Friday, January 01, 2010

Countdown to sabbatical

Some people may have been counting down to the New Year, but my countdown is about my upcoming sabbatical.

I just received the paperwork approving the sabbatical for next year, and I am ecstatic. I am officially counting down... by months right now, but eventually I know I will move to weeks and then days. I am sure that a sabbatical may be a wonderful experience for regular faculty, but I am beginning to sense the pure joy of an administrator looking at a semester or two of no meetings, no student crises, no reports or university policy discussions...nothing but research, writing, and relaxation.

Honestly, I can hardly wrap my head around the upcoming sabbatical experience, though the holiday break seems like a miniature version of the sabbatical... or it would, if I didn't have letters of recommendations for students (done!), a syllabus to revise for spring (almost done), a report for a university committee to finish (not even started), and any other number of small service and administrative tasks to complete before classes resume. It makes me glad that I have a few weeks left before classes start.

Another task I have to begin during break is getting funding to support the sabbatical... as with most big schools, my university requires that I raise half of my salary if I would like a whole year away from campus. I am okay with that, though my research area can be difficult to get funded. I have several potential funders flagged, and I have some strong folks who will support the research proposal. That said, I am resigned to the idea that if the funding doesn't come through, I have to reduce my sabbatical to one semester. The project will still take a year to complete --perhaps longer if I am back at work.

The gf and I have discussed some of the practical implications of the sabbatical, including research travel (we plan to spend some of it together and some apart) and how we will negotiate me working at home for an entire semester/year when she also often works at home (not quite figured out yet--I may need to set up a better office at home, since I currently work in our living room or in my work office). More importantly, she has grown accustomed to the idea that I will take a sabbatical while she works her regular job, an idea which had been a source of tension when I first introduced the idea. Hopefully, we can travel together and have a little bit of shared vacation time thrown in for good behavior.

I am getting excited, but I am trying to remember that I still have my administrative tasks, grantwriting, service projects, teaching, etc. to finish before the sabbatical starts. But the lure of an open calendar and silent phone are beautiful, twinkling lights on the horizon, lighting up the darkness of the cold January winter.