Year-End Review

One of the things I love about an academic life is how many chances for reflection, renewal, and rebirth there are. Each term is a chance for rebirth, and we also get the rhythms of the calendar year. It is following the beat of the latter that I am now looking back at 2015.

The most important events of my 2015 were things that I chose. Two of them I worked for. Palgrave Macmillan accepted my book proposal based on my doctoral thesis, which is forthcoming next year as James Joyce’s Teaching Life and Methods. I finished my first marathon in Honolulu. Other important events I did not set as goals but still chose: I was elected president of the faculty senate at CMI. I adopted two more feral kittens—Jimmy I found on campus and Thunder I found under a car outside the building where I live. My older cats accepted both quickly; Thunder was so dirty I had to cut matted clumps out of his fur.

Jimmy and Thunder

A photo posted by Dr Elizabeth Switaj (@ekswitaj) on

These major events dictated how I spent much of my time during 2015. Having my book accepted still left revisions to complete, proofs to check, and finally an index to compile. The Honolulu Marathon was the Sunday after I finished the fall semester and had me waking up at 4 a.m. to train so I could avoid the worst of the tropical heat; I plan to continue running in 2016, though with more of a focus on middle distances and intervals at least until I’m ready to build up for another long race.

I’ll also be continuing in the role of faculty senate president for one more semester. Some of what that job entails is predictable: facilitating meetings (an area in which I have improved a lot), representing faculty on various committees. Other parts of the role arise as needed. It’s not a role in which you can be effective if you shy from conflict, but you also can’t feed too much on it. I was fortunate to have been secretary for two academic years before stepping into the role and thus having seen firsthand how two women with very different leadership styles served. I like to think that I have borrowed from both of them, and I continue to draw on my Leadership in Action training, but it is still very much a learning experience.

Between the research and service work I’ve been doing, my ongoing efforts to develop as a teacher (including completing a Postgraduate Certificate in Online Education), my running, and my increased involvement in Jambo Arts (a Majuro-based NGO), I have had to start guarding my time more carefully. I have received some surprisingly nasty pushback on that—but never from anyone I respect. I will need to continue guarding my time in 2016 because in 2015 I was neglecting my creative writing. I still drafted, but I didn’t submit as much as I should have, and I’ve had enough near misses with book-length manuscripts to know that pushing harder here is likely to be worthwhile.

In conclusion:

i regret nothing chicken