sometime before moving to seattle, i met up with my dissertation chair john caughey for lunch. after we finished our meals and talked about this and that, i asked john if he had any advice for me getting tenure.
he thought for a while and then answered: "when you get to UW, get a box and set it aside. a good strong box. anytime you do anything - anything research, anything teaching, anything service - get some kind of physical evidence of the thing you do. then, put that physical evidence in the box. when you publish something, put a copy in the box. when you finish a new syllabus or get an award, put it in the box. when you get a letter of appreciation from a student or colleague or member of the community, put it in the box. then, when tenure time comes around, you'll have a box full of scholarship."
i thought for a while and said, "that's a great idea! thanks, john!"
in the center of the octagon there is an eight-sided pit. this morning i placed my tenure box in the pit and began taking out the box's contents. instead of me arranging the work into three categories (teaching, research, service), the work arranged itself: first as pods, then as clusters, then as blobs that suggest some kind of a continuum of scholarship. currently and curiously, the work seems to have settled into eight rough blobs.