Uncurling slightly, slowly

i-f875c0b07d9b3cb6229668554781b35a-alice.jpgOkay. As mentioned, I've been smacked down. I think I'm so deeply tired that it is going to take weeks to recover. I have to have some tough conversations with people over the next few days, not the least of which with my students, and I lack the energy to do so. But I also did a Good Thing: I went to my dad's retirement party.

On the drive there, I just drove. It's about 280 miles from West Lafayette to Madison, takes about 5 hours depending on the traffic in/around Chicago. While I was there, I just sat, mostly. And took some photos. After the party, I continued to sit. I sat outside in the sun, inside in the kitchen, at my favourite coffeeshop, and back outside in the sun again. I felt completely wiped out. Empty. A little ball of exhaustion.

Uncurling ferns

But slowly, yesterday, I caught myself starting to uncurl. I started to laugh a bit more frequently -- my sister was also visiting for my dad's retirement, and she makes (and made) my mom and me howl. I started having a couple of conversations about my research. I started planning ideas - how to do some projects, how to write up some thoughts..

So, while on the drive there, I just sat, on the drive back (this afternoon) I started thinking again. I am terribly behind on a lot of things, again including feedback to my students, but I can contemplate at least getting them feedback sometime soon - a feat in itself.

The best part is that I've been on Central Time for the last few days, so even though it is nearly 10 pm in the Eastern Time Zone, I might actually have an hour of solitary work that I can do ahead of me.

DSC_0158

My dad, accepting his way coolio ancient microscope, a retirement gift from his department. My dad is a microscopist most well known for editing the Handbook of Biological Confocal Microscopy.

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Love the fiddlehead analogy. I always wished I could bottle up those moments of family bliss and synergy and take them out when I needed them. Haven't figured that out yet, but I know those times do help me down the road.

One thing $DAUGHTER has found is that coming home to spend a week with me -- away from students, classes, colleagues, departmental issues, etc. -- more than pays for itself. Not that I'm any real help, but it gives her time when she's "off" instead of "on."

She doesn't even stop working -- but she's in a different emotional space. I highly endorse time away, especially with parents. No matter how "grown up" we tell others we are, it's healing and the ROI is huge.

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 21 May 2009 #permalink

CPP - he is indeed. :-) Can I pass on your comment to him? He would be chuffed.