I'm learning that sabbatical brings with it a number of frequently asked questions, and I'm listing some of them here, with my frequently given answers.
Q: Are you doing anything fun on your sabbatical?
A: Yes, I'm going to Ireland and Portugal in April. And I got a nice long visit with my family in Tennessee. And I have some talk engagements that I'm planning to combine with fun stuff like baby visits and bike rides and hikes. And I'm cooking a lot and hanging around the house a lot. And I'm doing a lot of leisure reading and have started watching shows like Desperate Housewives. These I consider fun things. This afternoon I'm taking the dogs for a snow hike. Maybe I'll post some pictures.
Q: (This one comes with a suspicious 'but I know you' look): Are you really managing to stay away?
A: Weeeellllll, I could do better on this front, I'll admit. I am very strict about not going into the office during normal business hours, and I'm ever-grateful for K, who is managing my mail and keeping me out of my office. That said, I have had two days of "unsabbatical" so far, one involving an important review, and another an important interview. And then last week in an attempt to avoid grad recruiting, I called a prospective grad student from one of my departments. That backfired, though, because I liked him so much and wanted him to come so badly that I immediately signed up for the recruitment lunch. And then today I heard from a prospective in my other department and couldn't resist meeting with her either. But one for each department: that's my limit. For others I'll happily call--my days being recruited in high school taught me a thing or two about phone recruiting--but my travel schedule is picking up, so there won't be any more meetings.
Q: What do you do about your current graduate students?
A: They're being patient. And they're doing a great job giving advance notice for fellowship letters and whatnot, just like I asked them to. And the calendar idea that Caraf gave me was genius. I may not be meeting them face to face, but I'm reading things they send, and they're getting a lot of good writing done. Hooray! Rumor has it that they think I'm being too quick to reply on email, so I think I need to work on that. But if I let things slide up the inbox, I would definitely forget.
Q: What are you saying when journal editors ask you to do reviews?
A: I'm saying yes. I'd rather reserve the right to say no when I'm so busy that I can't possibly do it.
Q: What's the one thing that is impossible to avoid?
A: Why, email of course. Lots of people do those auto-replies, but after having gotten like 15 of those from one person this year, I couldn't bring myself to do it. I'll put one up when I'm traveling, though. And I would try checking email once every other day or something, but things would just pile up and make me crazy. So I don't know what is to be done about that. It's a rather intractable situation.
Q: Are you getting a lot of writing done?
A: Ahhh. The time to write and develop projects is quite lovely. The best thing about sabbatical.
Q: Do you ever take a break?
A: Believe me, this is a break. Now, the sun is out so I'm going hiking.