Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy. Last Sunday night, the babies in the house kept the grown-ups running. It had rained all day, unusual for Nevada, and this meant that the fur baby didn’t get her walks. Instead, she got a bunch of treats because we felt guilty. In retrospect: not a great idea. Meanwhile, the skin baby is getting her top teeth and is uncharacteristically fussy.
Over the course of the evening one or the other of them cried every hour on the hour. Fur baby needed to be let out again and again and again to hunch miserably in the yard and shake her bottom two and fro; and skin baby was just flippin’ pissed, wanting to be held, jamming her little fists in her mouth, and wailing at the top of her lungs.
Mom and dad did not meet the morning with a smile.
Mondays are my heavy teaching days, difficult days to squeeze in writing and yoga even when I am in top form.
Additionally, because every member of the household was feeling junky and logy, we were slow to get out the door, which only added to my grumpiness. I write in the morning, so if we are late to drop me at the coffee shop on the way to daycare, that little sliver of writing time is ever more diminished. As I dragged the poor loos-stooled fur baby around the block and watched my husband fill and label the skin baby’s bottles for daycare sooo slowly (has any man ever mixed formula and wielded a sharpie with less sense of hustle!), I could feel my jaw clenching, that tight feeling rising in my chest.
Finally, after what seemed like eons of finding clean baby socks, figuring out where wallets were hidden overnight, and so on, my computer and I reunited at the coffee shop for what was now twenty-five minutes of writing time, 30 if I decided I didn’t need to pee before teaching.
I could feel myself starting to make the excuses, feel the pull of Facebook, of twitter, those siren calls. But I also remembered the wise and very moderate advice of a woman with whom I once shared a writing group. In our message board about writing goals, successes, and failures, she offered that on truly hellacious days her goal for her writing project was “just touch it.”
I like the modesty of this goal. It’s sneaky modest. Even if Nike’s slogan is too bold and brash for a total crap day when fumes and third cup of coffee are all that keep you from sobbing in a little heap under the desk, surely, no writer worth her salt can claim that she doesn’t have time to just touch her document. Like I said, the “just touch it” slogan is sneaky modest.
For me on the tired day, I was able to check a fact, and the answer to my research question caused me to slightly revise my argument. I wrote about 500 words based on this new information using the trusty and terrifying WriteorDie app. I also made a list of tasks to discuss with my undergraduate research assistant. Not earthshaking stuff, to be sure. But also better than nothing.
Also, whereas logging in to social media would likely have perpetuated my grump cycle (X politician said WHAT!!!!), I had the minor victory of doing a little work to carry me into my teaching day. I didn’t need to accomplish everything when I was exhausted. Just a touch.
Get a Life, PhD
The Professor is In
The Thesis Whisperer
Tenure, She Wrote