My life up here in Vermont is still pretty isolated. Only slightly more so than it was in Salt Lake or at the Grand Canyon, but that slightly seems to make a big difference.
Part of the problem is that both Jay and everyone else we know seems to be extremely busy. Look at a college instructor's schedule, and you might see the 10-15 hours a week of class time, which seems like a light work load. But then you factor in prep time, and especially grading time, and the weekly hours jump up to 30-60. Add in the apparent faculty/staff shortages this term, which mean that many people are teaching "overload", or more than the usual 12 credits/term, and you end up with a definite lack of time for socializing.
Most of my recent conversations have been more snippets and sound bites, tossed out while running down the hall or past another faculty member's office. I can't remember the last time I had a sit down conversation with another adult with actual listening involved. (Though I did get a little fix of that while visiting K2 down in NYC.) So much for the slower pace of life in rural Vermont.
I've been so bogged down with grading my backlog of assignments for the midterm progress report deadline this week that I haven't had time for the outlets that keep me sane: this blog, my writing, my critique circle, good pleasure reading, and all the other little creative things that stretch my brain. The only thing I have kept up with (mostly) is my exercise schedule. The plan this term was to get a minimum of 6 1/2 hours of exercise each week. I've pretty much stuck to that - with nice results in terms of physical health and fitness - but that, too, takes away from my creative time. And for my mental health, that creative time is essential.
So what I've decided to do is this: I will schedule a certain number of hours on specific days to grade student work. I will not skip those times (procrastination is part of the problem) nor will I grade outside those times (must set boundaries). As for the balance of mental and physical exercise... I'm still trying to figure out how to strike a balance.
I've started mentoring at one of the local middle schools - I meet with a seventh grade girl once a week at lunch - and have volunteered to advise the second attempt at a Women at OurCollege group. (Last year, the advisor was a bit too... aggressive and scared away most of the interested women before the group could get off the ground. We're starting with a more social gathering type group, to branch out into specific discussion and action meetings as everyone gets more comfortable with the idea.) I'm hoping both of these actvities will help me feel more connected and not just stretched further.
(Oh - and it looks like I missed my 4 year blogoversary last week. Four years...)