And we are in the middle of a job search at the Zenith History Department, which means next week is scheduled more closely than I have had a week scheduled in two years. I remember the day — shortly after I was hired at Zenith (and was instantly put on a search committee — harbinger of Things To Come) that I discovered I could lecture right off the top of my head. I had been working so hard on the search I just had had no time to write a lecture. So I scribbled five things I knew about state centralization in the progressive era United States down on a piece of paper during the department meeting at noon, added a few more pieces of blank paper for good measure (this was a dodge so the students would not notice I had no lecture: clever me!), and ran in and started to teach.
And by gum, it worked. In fact, I thought at the time it was one of the best lectures I had ever given, including my class on Andrew Jackson’s tax policy (otherwise known as the Tax of Abominations, which I really do just love, particularly because I can never get enough of that badass secesh John C. Calhoun.)
OK — you can’t always do it this way and secede — er, I mean succeed. And I don’t want to do it this week because the other thing I have learned over the years is that being unprepared is just as stressful as squeezing out time you don’t have to prepare. But it’s a good thing to know you can do it if you have to, isn’t it?