I remember back in my retail days, when "part-time" usually meant working about five minutes less than full-time each week, I used to hate the irregular scheduling my co-workers and I would have to deal with. You know, working until closing time one night and opening up the store early the next morning or never having two days off in succession--which is what I really hated. Perhaps attending thirteen years of formal schooling on a Monday-through-Friday schedule conditions an individual to expect a weekend; I'm sure, for some people, at least, this is the case. It certainly is the case for me. At any rate, my new schedule, to which I have not been able to fully adjust myself, requires that I teach on Saturdays, thereby eliminating the two-day recess I looked towards to help give my life some semblance of order and to act as the carrot dangling on my proverbial string each week. Of course, weekends still feel like weekends. I still want to stay up late on Friday evenings, I still expect to hear church bells on Sunday, and I certainly expect the post office to be open on weekdays on which I do not work, but I miss the patterned schedule a weekend provides. That extra work day seems to have the same effect on my life as a scratch has on an LP: what once had an easily recognizable beginning, middle, and end now seems to go on and on, ceaselessly and monotonously stuck in a middle without a terminus.
I'm trying not to let the new schedule affect my dissertation work but, not surprisingly, it does have an effect on what I do outside of the classroom. I now have one less "open" day to stretch out in bed before facing the blank page, one more day of lingering fatigue, one more evening of having to go to bed earlier than what feels natural. Still, I managed to make my way through this past week, despite being busier than I have been in quite some time.
I have continued reading Disgrace, and should finish the novel tomorrow. I have also continued writing the chapter on The Master of Petersburg though, oddly, I did not do any writing on my "off" days, having found it easier to cram some typing into the after school hours. As always, I love reading Disgrace, Coetzee's tremendously powerful 1999 novel of the "New South Africa." I think this is the fourth or fifth time I've read the book, in fact, and I still love it. My copy, purchased only a couple of years ago, is so creased, so heavily-underlined, and so yellowed that I may have to buy a replacement soon.
Reading the seemingly endless pile of criticism associated with the book, however, makes the normally satisfying feeling of finishing the book a bit less pleasant. Fortunately, having written about Disgrace in the past and having published a bit of criticism on the novel myself, I am already familiar with the bulk of what has been written about the book, but I still feel the need to re-read the articles I have read and dig up the ones I've not yet seen--and that promises to take quite a bit of time. Disgrace is, after all, one of the most frequently taught and discussed contemporary novels.
As for me, I hope to have more days like Friday, when I somehow managed to get a good chunk of reading completed between a full day spent teaching, grading and writing the Petersburg chapter. For a moment, I felt as productive as I used to feel as an undergraduate...Still, my big accomplishment this weekend may have been getting the Southern Tier's most famous blogger to watch Kiss of Death, the 1947 film noir classic featuring the late, great Richard Widmark as the psychopathic Tommy Udo, which Mr. Parker briefly mentions in today's post. Seriously, the movie--especially Widmark's performance--is fantastic.
For tomorrow: Finish reading Disgrace.