Sunday, November 20, 2005

The temporal anomaly known as November

The weeks since returning home from NYC have been strangely unproductive, considering the amount of busy I recall experiencing. How does that work, exactly? My little burgundy University of Toronto datebook, which neatly distills my days into hour-long chunks, doesn't provide too many answers. Honestly, where have the weeks gone?

The band concert two weeks ago was, as usual, a rousing good time, unless you include the speeding ticket I received on my way there, just up the road from my house. We had a guest band from Rochester which is, without a doubt, far better than we are. They were fun to listen to, which I did from the quiet confines of the dressing room while everyone else went out and sat in the house to watch... I was close to an asthma attack and needed some down time after nearly being late (see speeding ticket) and running (me, running = a scary thought) from car to stage. I chatted a bit with the other horn section during the morning rehearsal, but had to bail on the after-concert dinner with our guests because of things due the following day. My immediate band obligations fulfilled, I've skipped rehearsal for the last two weeks. Whether or not I go this week, I can't say. I feel that I need a break from band, but the guilt is tremendous. I love playing the horn, but I resent the 3 hours every week that it takes from my life to go to rehearsal. I've been a member of the group since 1995, taking 18 months off from September 2002 - May 2004 and two more from June - August 2005 (school obligatons), but yet I keep coming back. I realize, at some level, that I have long since lost any image of reliability in the eyes of my section and the rest of the band, and yet they welcome me when I'm there, ask me for no excuses, hand me second and first horn parts and treat me as they always have, like a friend and colleague. And I enjoy myself when I'm there. So I'm still torn. Truthfully, I'll probably go this week, even though I've said I don't want to. The Christmas music was probably brought out last week, and I love that arrangement of Westminister Carol. Familiarity, tradition and guilt trumps, I guess.

A second round of grading, much worse than the first, hit a couple weeks ago, and caused me to lose no small amount of sleep until this past Thursday, when I handed the tests back. This probably accounts for the feeling that I've been very busy, yet the appearance that I've gotten very little done. This Wednesday brings round three, when they hand in projects. The sense of dread is already building. My own work has languished beneath the piles of grading and teaching preparation, and I'm starting to panic a little bit about that.

This weekend I managed to attend the retirement dinner for a professor in the department - a dear man who I admire a great deal. True to departmental tradition, since he has now officially retired he will most assuredly be in his office on Monday, working diligently. You see, the university has, until next year, a policy of mandatory retirement at age 65, and many people don't want to. As an emeratus professor, they are entitled to teach X number of classes for a few more years and maintain an office. So they do - the last three "retired" professors are still permanent fixtures in the department, one will be serving as interim chair for a few months next year. I'm glad this one won't be any different, because I would really miss him. It was a lovely dinner (preceded by a two-day workshop that I didn't get to attend much), with the requisite sappy speeches and multiple toasts. And the wheels keep turning.

So now I'll spend a couple hours paying bills followed by staring at the work I didn't do this weekend, and try to think of a way to explain my lack of productivity tomorrow, other than by temporal anomaly. I don't think that one will fly.

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