December wish list

Every year, as December approaches, I start mentally compiling my wish list. Many other academics will sympathize with me here, I suspect, as my wish list details all the things I hope to finish over the Christmas break, when, for four or five weeks, I will have no assignments to mark or courses to teach.

In September and October 2009 (just like in September and October of previous years) I began this list optimistically, putting “start research for new localization paper” at the top of the list, followed by a entry about starting my new research on translator blogs. I spent some time thinking about how great it would be to have four or five weeks to sit down and sort through dozens of localized-for-Canada websites to draw some conclusions about the written narratives on the community involvement pages. Then I spent even more time thinking about how great it would be to have four or five weeks to sort through dozens of translation blogs, comparing their content, searching for common topics, and tracking down the sources of the most common postings. Since this was still late September/early October, I was able to convince myself that both these projects could conceivably be done over the holidays.

By late October, however, I had also added “finish book review” to the list, mentally chastising myself for not getting this done sooner. I mean, I’ve had the book in my hands since early September, and it’s less than 150 pages. I could get this done in a week, if I would just sit down and read it. That’s why at this point, I was still optimistic about my ability to complete my to-do list: one week for the review, two weeks each for the new research projects, and I’d be all set.

Three weeks later, I had agreed to teach the French section of the Theory of Translation class at Glendon, a course I’ve never taught before. I amended my list to include “create outline for new course”, “re-read theoretical articles that you haven’t spent much time on since the early days of your doctorate” and “draft a few lectures for new course so that when the winter term rolls around, you don’t have to panic.”

And then, a week ago, the comments came back on an article I submitted over the summer, which meant I had to squeeze “finish revising article by January 5th” onto the list. I did some reshuffling, and the two research projects are still managing to cling to the bottom of the list.

I’m not worried though. I’m still not convinced this can’t all be done by the time my first class begins on January 5th next year. And besides, I’ve also started mentally compiling my summer wish list, which somehow seems so much more achievable than my December list. After all, May is still six months away, which means I can spend the next little while thinking of how great it will be to preemptively check off a few of the more important items between now and then…