Thursday, April 12, 2007

These are the days of our lives....

I'm not dead, I just haven't had any motivation, whatsoever, to blog. I've been running here and there, writing papers, reading theory, talking on the phone, etc. But, amidst all the daily crap, I found the inspiration for this-here post.


We're probably all a slave to routine in some way, even if we strive to maintain a more or less routine-free life. I know I do. In some ways. One thing that used to drive me crazy was the mundane nature of my corporate job. I was an intern in a large e-business department for a Fortune 500 company in Dallas, and they hired me part-time to continue my web design work after my internship was up and I was working on my B.A. in New Media (which, neatly enough, became my minor and I changed to English halfway through my Junior year). What drove me from my creative computery stuff? Routine. Simply.

My day then consisted of getting up at 5:30am, hitting the road by 6:15 in a vague (and usually unsuccessful) attempt to avoid Dallas traffic, beginning work at 7:30 and cutting out at 4:30 in another attempt to miss the traffic on the way home. In between there was routine after routine: get to office, put things away, get big thermos of ice water ready for the day, eat muffin for breakfast, surf Amazon until fully awake, clear as much work off the desk as possible by noon so Amazon surfing invokes less guilt, take a smoke-free smoke break with my mom and her work friends (we worked down the hall from one another), more work, lunch with mom and friends, more surfing. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I thought teaching would be a good way to break up the monotony. I just didn't realize at the time that high school teaching was NOT the way for me to do that. I know many people (some of whom read this blog) who are amazing elementary, middle and high school teachers, and they love it. However, I did not. More routine. Kids need routine. Teachers need routine to stay sane. And the whole bloomin' scenario made me want to disembowel myself with a yardstick.

So I switched over to community college teaching, and VOILA! I was happy. That's not to say that there's a lack of routine, but it's certainly very different. This is fancy routine. Routine with raisins in it (stolen haphazardly from Lulu's blog). OK, not really. It's just short, more spread out routines, which allow me to trick myself into thinking that the routine is gone. And it changes every semester. And they're my routines.

For instance, this semester I teach at both the university and the junior college. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I'm at the university teaching from 10-12 and having office hours from noon to 1:30. On Tuesday and Thursday I'm at the junior college from 2:25-4:30 on Tuesday and 2:25-3:40 on Thursdays. Thursday nights I take my one course for the semester (4:30-7:10) and the rest of the time is spent doing other things: grading papers, doing my own work, working on Estella, and attempting a social life (although, I've been unusually hermitty this semester). I often get to change things up--have my students do work online instead of meeting in person, spending office hours in the Writing Center instead of hole up alone, doing whatever I want in the times in between. That's why I chose my profession: freedom.

But, amidst all the routinelessness, I still cleave to routine. The tiny routines, the ones that hang on day after day, year after year. The little anal retentive Andinesses that can't be gotten rid of. For example, I have a computer routine. When I sit down at my computer (home or work) I begin with a routine of e-mail checking that I've had for years and that I just seem to keep adding to as I stack up more e-mail addresses. It goes something like this:

Hotmail e-mail used for people I know in real life and my school/work listservs
Yahoo #1 for online book group participants and other bookish peeps and blog comments
Yahoo #2 for various services like BookMooch and such
Gmail #1 for university students and my own writing projects (PopMatters, Bust)
Gmail #2, the Estella's Revenge account where we receive submissions and communicate with the writers, authors, publicists, etc.

Every day. Several times a day, I engage in this routine, and to deviate from it gets me all befuddled and makes me forget things.

So, to make this an interactive post, what are the routines you would love to get rid of and what are those that you can't dispense with?

And in the news: I found out today that I will receive the Distinguished Master's Student Award on April 20th. It's awarded to one M.A. student out of all the Master's programs in the College of Arts and Sciences and it comes with $1000!!!! Woot! I like money. Have I mentioned that?


  1. Andi,

    How did you find out you were getting the award? Congrats.

    I'm posting a list of interesting small presses this afternoon.

  2. Congrats on your award! My uni does 'do' awards sadly...makes me miss high school!

    As for routines, you seem to have a pretty sweet one. Although I'm not too keen on them myself I find that I'm completely unproductive without them. But the whole corporate 9-5 drill is awful. I had a year of it before I went to uni, and then last summer. It makes you a shell of a person methinks.


  3. Oops, meant to say 'doesn't do awards'

  4. C, word filtered down from the higher-ups. Ask around and I'm sure you could find out about yours as well.

    Thanks for the list of presses. I'll be sending out Estella goodies in the near future.

    Purl, thanks!

    Thanks, Oceans! I do actually have a very sweet routine. I always assure people that I carefully engineered it that way. I enjoy careers with minimal work and maximum free time. lol

  5. The routines I don't like involve a lot of running around frantically looking for tights that don't have holes in the crotch, and trying to find my keys. I'm like an episode of I Love Lucy every morning.

    I don't teach a class first period, so my school routine consists of walking in the door with a venti cup from Starbucks and sitting down at my desk to check my
    1 gmail account for the real world account for blog and other web stuff
    3. hotmail account for students and their parents
    4. hotmail account for things Y sign up for that I don't want cluttering my real accounts
    5. official school email for offcial school stuff.
    Then I go look for a working copy maker.

    I don't find teaching high school to be routine at all, frustrating, thanklessm etc, but never routine.

  6. Congratulations on your award! Yay!

  7. Routine - how that word makes me want to run and hide and yet, I know I fall completely into a routine about certain things - like how I get ready every morning for work. How work is pretty routine itself.

    My main offense in the world of routine is when my creative projects and loves start to feel routine..."have to" rather than "want to"...

    Congrats on your award!!!

  8. You can be my distinguished mistress anytimes, andi.

    I mean Mistress Estella.


  9. Yay! Congrats on the award.

  10. Congratulations!!! You deserve this.

    As for my routine I don't really want to talk about it as my whole goal in life any more is to free lance and teach so I don't have to have such a 9-5 kind of life. My routine looks quite a bit like yours as an intern,albeit with better traffic.

  11. Lu, I think part of the routine for me, as a high school teacher, was in the fact that I went in without certification and had to do all sorts of extra meetings and paperwork and crap like that. The interaction with my students was NEVER mundane! They cracked me up.

    Thanks, Iliana!

    LOL, Christine. I'm right there with ya re: running and hiding from routine. I hate it when creativity begins to feel like work. As I'm finishing up this degree reading has begun to feel mundane and routine and I CANNOT handle that.

    Johnny, you crazy foo'.

    Thanks, Heather!!

    Courtney, the traffic was probably the suckiest part of being an intern. I'm the MOST impatient person I know, so it was horrid being in a car with me in traffic. Good luck with your goal! I'm right there with ya...especially the freelance part.

  12. Congrats on the award! Much deserved!
    Having a strict work routine burns me out super fast. I swore I'd never teach again-sooo burnt out last time around. But that's why I'm doing better this time by teaching private students as there's more flexibility and the schedule isn't always the same as when I was doing corporate Business English classes.

  13. ugh... routines....Hope loves routines.... anything goes differently and she FREAKS.

    Congrats on the award

  14. Yay money!!!! Congratulations!

    I think I used to have routines. But they kind of all went out the window after Ellie got here. Now I just kind of do things as they come up. It's been liberating and exasperating at the same time.

  15. Nat, I bet private students are much better on the ole burn out. Glad you're enjoying it!

    LOL, yep, Amanda. Kids seem to love 'em for whatever reason. Stability and all that I suppose.

    LOL, Heather! And the Bun will probably shake up whatever routines are left!

  16. Glad I'm not the only one who hasn't been blogging lately!

    I can definitely relate to your leaving that corporate job because of routine. I quit my position over a year ago partly for the same reason. Now I'm just hoping I don't need to go back.

    I can't really think of any strict routines I have at the moment and perhaps that's part of the problem. A little structure can be a good thing.

    Congratulations on the award! Very impressive - and money to boot!

  17. I know what you mean about routine. Monotony is a killer. But sometimes, it just happens.

    Congrats on the award though!! Especially cool that it comes with $$$!

  18. Congrats again on the award! But I'm writing to make sure you surived the nasty weather down there. Amy said the wind was unbelievable. Thankfully, she wasn't affected by the tornado (she works in Arlington, lives in Fort Worth - well, Dallas, now). Phew.

  19. Congrats!!

    I know what you mean about the email thing, I've got a zillion too.

  20. Congratulations on the award! Woohoo!! That is beyond awesome. :)

    Ari (Baking and Books)

  21. Lesley, good luck to you. I hope you don't have to go back to the old corporate routine!

    Thanks, BF!

    Thanks, Steph! And it certainly does "just happen" doesn't it? Oy!

    Les, fortunately everything is in one piece here. We had some VERY nasty weather. A tornado touched down in Rockwall and Royse City got some damage (right down the road from me), and apparently a tornado passed over my hometown but didn't touch down. The whole business made me a nervous wreck!

    LOL, Soj, it's sort of like a cell phone. E-mail takes over.

    Thank you, Ari!


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