For the last number of years, I have had a strange relationship with summers. When I was an undergrad/MA student, I generally took classes...so there was no real distinction between summer and anytime else. This continued when I took a class after my first year as a Ph.D. student. The summer after that was a full-out cram for the standard pre-dissertation exams, so again, it really wasn't a break.
After that, I've mostly spent summers either working on my writing or procrastinating by drinking and watching too much television. I can never seem to do them both, and I know that I desperately need to balance teh two.
The thing is, I tend to need deadlines to work, and I find it hard to take my self-imposed deadlines seriously. I finished my dissertation because I made my glorious dissertation advisor give me absolute deadlines (which I needed, as I was starting part-time work the next year). The summer after I finished my diss, I took off in an attempt to write a lot...but without deadlines, this just turned into a decompression summer. The summer after that, I did the zoo thing (previously chronicled here) rather than write. Last summer was supposed to be writing but became decompression instead.
So this summer is weird in that I have to work. I have a full agenda. I just have to get to it. If I want any success on the job market, I have to dramatically up the number of publications I have, and summer is the only time I can do that (a 5/4 load doesn't lend itself to research). I'm beginning to get afraid that if I do not find a tenure-track job soon, I'm gonna be typecast as a writing instructor rather than as a media scholar, which is what I want. So, I have to find discipline.
In summertime, there are (as always) distractions, both good and bad...especially when one is tied to the college life. Already, I have a few friends who will be leaving for jobs elsewhere. Cookouts and drinking bouts tend to happen with a much greater frequency. As is the case with many friends, the spousal unit and I will be doing an inevitable family visit to the sunshine state. After that, we get to concentrate on finding her a new job (especially as she will be, shortly after the summer's up, laid off thanks to a bank merger).
But I think I can balance the work and fun sides this time around. After all, I have a job waiting for me in the fall. I can largely recycle teaching material for my Fall classes. Everyone around me is fairly healthy for a change. So I think I can still write and have fun.
I just need to get all taoist on this. Harmony. Balance.
Maybe I can achieve this by an intense combination of chanting and destroying my TiVo.