What I did on my summer vacation.


This week marks the first week of Summer 2009 for me.

Why? Most of the summer projects–infrastructure projects, in the current lingo, are now finished.

With a book and Baby #2 due in November, as well as the all-important fifth year of tenure-track teaching coming up, the idea was to get as much done as possible this summer before the madness begins.

If it seems like I am braggin‘ on my self baby, as Lou Rawls says, maybe I am. Here’s a partial list of Summer tasks; you decide if I deserve a round of applause.

Teach summer class. It seems like eons ago, but back in May, I taught a three-week “immersion” graduate class in nonfiction. It went well. Perhaps it didn’t have the same novelty and fire as last summer’s, but we all came out of that class with drafts of three pieces/essays/memoir. This class, by the way, through a series of administrative twists and turns, was taught as an overload, as opposed to spreading my load. Ahem.

Baby #2 preparations. There might be some people out there that don’t even know we have another one on the way up here in Delmar. We do. The next daughter will be arriving on November 3 or thereabouts. So we just had to buy another crib, right? Hardly. Baby #2’s future bedroom needs to be emptied out of its current library-type status, as well as a guest bed needed to move out, transformed from its guest room/office state into a bona fide baby-friendly dwelling. So where did the bed and the countless books go?

The basement, that’s where. Here’s the sequence:

To prepare for the Great 2009 Book Migration, the basement walls and floors needed to stripped, prepped, painted, sealed. For about two weeks in late July, I would put on gym clothes and crawl down to the basement with garage paint and a roller. It was not pretty, and I was not pretty, while this happened.

The basement is nice, sure, but we can’t have any more dust. Side benefit: Potential Man Cave. Check out the video where I back-pat my way through a two-minute tour.

Books, all six or seven shelves’ worth, moved downstairs. That also includes CDs and records joining the guitar set-up, all on the dehumidified half of the basement.

Throw out the cheapo double bed in the attic office and move the queen-sized one upstairs. The metal box spring from the previous owner now sits on the floor of empty part of the attic. It looks like a part of some Ilya Kabakov installation. While moving all of this stuff by myself, Daddy fake-cursed and grunted a lot, leading Mitzi to imitate me by rolling her arms and going grrrrrrrr.

She’s a delight.

Move guest room computer down into dining room. Oh, and get a nice desk for it, too, we got a nice Heywood Wakefield desk, I think it’s called a secretary model, off of eBay, inspired by poet-editor Deborah Ager’s tour of her workspace here. We, too, collect Heywood Wakefield furniture, and to have a desk out in the open, it had to be pretty.

Actually prepare for classes in Fall, instead of the usual order books in Spring and play catch-up on Labor Day weekend. Now, I am of the mind that the best teaching is improvisational, something I heard a documentary teacher tell another teacher, and it always stuck with me. It served as partial justification for my day-by-day preparations, and I have always found that when I prepare months ahead of time goes by the wayside once I get into the classroom.

But this year I knew there would be distractions. I’m also teaching two new courses that I designed. There had to be prep work. The First-Person Journalism and Blogging course is just about finished, as well as the Interviews and Oral Histories.

Finish book manuscript, editing, additions. Did that. Done that. Bought the t-shirt.

OK, it’s off to watch the little one for the morning. Overandout.

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