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Note #124: The October gauntlet (2018.10.31)

October has been a long month, and it is only now that I am finally getting a chance to take a breath. In the first week of the month, students submitted drafts for their MA theses and PhD dissertations, as happens around this time every semester, but this semester we had eight students do so, which was far more than usual in a single semester. So I had a few days to read through five MA theses and three PhD dissertations before a meeting at the beginning of the following week to decide on which students which be presenting at the end of that week. (Our system is a bit different from the US and elsewhere; we have a public presentation of research first before it is decided who warrants the formation of a committee. The final “defense” is a closed-doors affair, with only the candidate and the committee in attendance.)

That took up the first two weeks of the month, along with work on a paper I wanted to submit to a journal (which I have not in fact yet finished) and preparations for the annual American Folklore Society meeting, held this year in Buffalo. This time around I took four of our grad students along for the ride, and I organized and chaired a panel for them to present their research. The day before we were to leave for Buffalo, though, I got an unexpected and unwelcome email. I don’t want to go into great detail, but in brief it was about a paper I will be presenting at a conference next month. Despite not having heard anything from the conference organizers about a deadline for the paper up to that point, I was suddenly being asked to submit the paper in five days—before I even got back from Buffalo. It is fairly standard practice here to submit papers around a week to a week and a half prior to conferences so that they can be sent out to discussants and included in the program books, but this deadline was three weeks in advance. I don’t think it was unreasonable of me to expect a little more advance warning than five days for such a ridiculously early deadline.

Anyway, without going on about it too much more, the upshot is that I had to get back to the grindstone as soon as I got back from Buffalo last Monday to finish the paper in a reasonable amount of time. It’s done now, and was sent in over the weekend, finishing the last bit of business I had to take care of this month.

And, in case you’re wondering, the AFS meeting went well. My students’ panel went as well as I could have possibly hoped, and I was very proud of all of them. And even though Buffalo was cold and insanely windy, I think everyone had a good time. It was not the most pleasant thing in the world to come back knowing that I would have to immediately dive into another paper, but such is life. One consolation is that November shouldn’t be nearly as stressful as October, although I will still of course have plenty to do. I know I say (or at least think) this a lot, but it will be nice when the semester is over. I don’t feel like writing more at the moment, as just dredging up the whole paper thing has gotten me annoyed again, so I’ll leave it here and hopefully be in a better mood next time.

Send me your thoughts.

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