How it falls away

I am lucky and some plans panned out. 

Last year this time, I believe I had just learned that I had received approval for my year long sabbatical.  I was also just about to enter my second trimester.  I had no idea what that would mean and thought that I would have to take maternity leave as part of the same time as my sabbatical year.  I later learned that I could take maternity leave and then go on sabbatical or I could take maternity leave (paid after using all of my sick time and taking a reduction in pay for one class) and take my sabbatical year at half pay.  Though this would financially impact me in the 2019-2020 academic year significantly, there is nothing so precious as time.  I would be able to work on my sabbatical projects and also spend nearly 18 months of my son’s life seeing him grow up more of the time. 

To be approved for the sabbatical, I had to prove to the new provost that my plan was worthy.  This is what I wrote (italics for what is still viable and strikethrough for those things that are most likely not able to be completed). 

  • If granted a Fulbright, conduct two classes on ecopoetics at the University of Milan (master and doctoral levels) from February 2019 to May 2019.
  • December 2018 through late March 2019 complete the anthology for The Acentos Review.  Do a book release event at the Associated Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference in March 27-30, 2019, Portland, Oregon. 
  • Late February to June 2019, meet with DoDEA representatives at schools in Germany and Italy and develop a course track for review by the GPSEPC that would allow for an overseas placement and some intensive, hybrid, and online classes.  Target populations are military spouses and retiring military personnel who wish to become teachers.
  • June 2019 through August 2019, complete two artist residencies for only my eye did not grow back book completion project.  Submit to Salmon Poetry in Ireland for review.
  •  January to December 2019 for The Acentos Review anthology
  • plan book tour for The Acentos Review 10-year anthology in the United States, Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic (March 2019 to March 2020) (Cities will include:  New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Atlanta, DC, Tampa, Miami, New Orleans, Chicago, Austin, Houston, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco, Oakland; San Juan, Loiza, Rincón; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico City; Havana, Santiago de Cuba; Puerto Plata) and partner with organizations Macondo, Letras Latinas, CantoMundo, Tinteros Project, VONA, and Nomadic Press to offer a scholarship for an artist residency and chapbook publication for an author published in The Acentos Review to attend a residency over the summer and submit a chapbook for publication by Nomadic Press. (let’s be ambitious!)
  •  initiate a board to host at different sites for The Acentos Review reading schedule
  • Fall 2019.  Correspond with SSTE faculty to start review process for additional track for placements and required coursework.  Redevelop program courses as two week-intensives, hybrid, and online courses and submit to GPSEPC.  November to December 2019 meet with DoDEA representatives at schools in Germany and Italy to identify ideal teachers for placements, review course plans, and start recruiting for first cohort. (will most likely pilot this as a Jan Term class)
  • Conduct study of DoDEA teachers (analyze data in January 2020 – may be unlikely to complete)
  • MOU with DoDEA for Fall 2020 start of program
  • January –December 2019 weekly essays for #52essaysproject

Sometimes I say that it was all luck, that I was able to have both maternity leave and sabbatical, but I planned this as possibility.  Luck and planning.  When my partner and I were starting our IVF process, I figured out, based on the transfer date when baby might be born, what that might mean for maternity leave (after reading an exhaustive report done by colleagues, which included a calendar marked for the best times to have your baby if you wanted to have a semester of leave.  Seriously, there were week by week color charts), and, if I was allowed to take maternity leave and sabbatical consecutively, what that would mean for my return to campus.  I considered the risks of miscarriage and possibly trying again, the risk of being put on medical leave for a high risk pregnancy (I was high risk but well-managed) and so many other possibilities – imagine something like holding a multiverse in your head in which you see some of your possible lives and get to choose the ideal scenario, at least professionally – and it all worked out. 

But throughout these last nearly 6 months, I have been juggling scenarios, anxieties, fears, backup plans for backup plans.  I don’t have to now, at least not for a while. 

A week ago I arrived in Como, Italy, my partner’s home town.  My sabbatical begins here with about two months of unscheduled writing time.  I have tasks to complete, but not the pressure of specific (and overly ambitious) deadlines.  I’ve been here for a week already and so much has fallen away (more on that in a later update), but I’m energized about the projects to come. 

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