Saturday, October 10, 2015

The moving sidewalk ends here . . . for now

Taking a sabbatical isn't the same as taking a vacation.  I just have to say that.  There are ways I do humongous amounts of work; it's just not committee/classroom work.  

But it's also true that having a sabbatical is a luxury.  It's a luxury of space and structure.  I spent the end of August trying to clear out the cobwebs and rug dust of my life, making room so that I could have an open path toward my math research.  Just about the time that I despaired of ever making headway in getting started on my paper, the locomotive of logical thinking barreled down upon my brain, and I got to spend all my waking hours obsessing over geometry.  Food and dinner was a mere distraction; my marriage was a mosquito buzzing around my head; my children were just a speed-bump on the beautiful paved highway toward my mathematical work.  There was nary a committee meeting or a student to get in my way or turn me aside from the thoughts racing around in my head and spinning themselves into theorems on my laptop.  This week, after a month of obsessing over theorems, lemmas, corollaries, axioms -- after a month of intense intimacy with geometry -- I submitted my paper to a kick-butt journal, and I was sort of sad to see it go.  I had loved spending time in the arms of my research, and now my research has packed its bags and boarded the airplane.  Cross fingers that it'll get accepted.

What I do when I'm doing math

And so what have I been doing with myself since I submitted the paper?  Well, aside from recovering from a fatal disease that I don't actually have, I've been giving my brain a bit of "margin".  Working hard, but not on math, so I can get ready for the next big math push.

I've done some sewing, making myself a new planner bag:
(I'm sure I'll write more about this bag in another post).   And I've been moving the sidewalk behind our house.

Doesn't everyone move sidewalks? Well, maybe not.  But it seemed like a good brawn-vs-brain task for celebrating the completion of a paper.  Here's the current extent of our new section of sidewalk . . .
 . . . ending right at a grove of giant okra.  The okra plants have grown taller than I am; in fact, they're up to the roof of the garage now.  It feels heartless to pull them out to make way for my new road, right?
I've been moving the sidewalk one paving stone at a time; this week I've been moving more and more of them.  For about two or three years, I've had my garden sandwiched between the sidewalk and the garage.  I've been thinking that next summer, it would make more sense to switch these: to have the sidewalk sandwiched between the garden and the garage.   Moving the garden out would give the plants more sun; moving the sidewalk in would give walkers more shelter from the elements; plus the new arrangement would make it easier to reach all the plants.  In theory.  We'll see how this goes.

For now, I'm happy and very dirty, with a sidewalk that leads visitors right up to a grove of stately okra, and then stops.  And then jumps out three feet to another, older sidewalk, that continues on.

But the okra, it's going to go. Soon.  And the sidewalk will plow through.  And once the sidewalk is all in the right place (and my muscles are all sore, and the dirt has coated my clothing and then gotten washed away), I'll be ready to go back to my next big math project.

Sabbatical Yay.

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