Wednesday, February 22, 2006

What This Whole Boy-Crazy Thing Is REALLY About (an Actual Academic Post)

This blog has devolved into a mere chronicling of my adventures in online dating, and I'm stopping that right now. Well, that's not to say I won't update you all on them, but I don't want that to be all that this blog is about. And it strikes me that by writing about all of that it's allowed me not to write about some things that are really driving this foray into the online singles scene.

I am in my third year of a tenure-track job. I am about halfway to going up for tenure. It's time for me to figure out what I'm doing with my life, and that's what's really going on here. It's what's going on with the eating better; it's what's going on with the quitting smoking; it's what's going on with the working out; it's what's going on with the foray into online dating. All of these seemingly "personal" things are really about the realization that if my professional life is going to be here than I'd sure as hell better have a personal life here, too. And if I can't have a personal life here, then I'd better figure that out pretty quickly so that I can blow this popsicle stand.

The truth of the matter is that I'm deeply ambivalent about both the prospect of leaving here and the prospect of staying. On the one hand, I'm "lucky." I'm in a tenure-track job. I like my colleagues. I basically like my university. I like my students. And I like that I'm not in a rural backwater someplace but rather in a metropolitan (well, small metropolitan) area, and that I'm near to my family (well, within easy driving distance of them). On the other, though, I suppose I do have reservations about signing on here for the long haul. As much as I think I've thrived under the 4/4 load, teaching but three courses this semester has really shown me how taxing this load is. As much as I like the area of the country in which I live, I really don't have much of a life outside of work. I've got a couple of close friends here, but that's really about it. And that's not ok with me. I want really to live where I live, you know?

So what's a girl to do? Do I fish or cut bait? I've had colleagues ask me whether I'm trying "to write my way out of here," and the truth is that I'm not. Yes, I've been productive research-wise, but not climbing-the-academic-institution-ladder productive. I'm productive for a place like this one. So, I could make a lateral move. Ok, but why? If I'm going to have the same kind of job, then why not just stay? The only reason I can think of to move is location. If I can't make a life for myself in this location, then I should try to find another location, right? So, that means I've got to try, and so that means that I've got to go online and try to find a boyfriend. And that sucks, you know? That's no way to run a life. But the truth of it is that I do want that in my life, so why should I feel badly about looking for it? Why is it wrong to want that?

And then I wonder whether the reason I'm thinking about pulling out of here is that I'm so indoctrinated by moving from place to place throughout my education that I just can't imagine being here beyond 4 or 5 years. It's like I've got senioritis or something. I keep thinking that maybe if I were more settled personally I wouldn't have that feeling about the job, which I actually really love.

So yes. This is what's really going on with Crazy. What's really going on, is that I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life. The boy-craziness? That's just a way to make it all not seem so fucking serious.


seadragon said...

I understand this quite well. And we all know you are going to find your way through it, and whatever you decide, you will be brilliant. In my current search for a tenure-track gig, I have been asking myself many of the same questions-- do I really want to live there? How about there? What will my quality of life be like? etc. Rather than worrying about such things like salary, research time, and the like. Then after all of this soul-searching, and after pretty much deciding on one offer, the world gets turned upside-down (sort of) by the simple fact that there's really only one place that my husband can go. And so... my decision changes, and I am resentful for one full week, and then I remember that this is what I signed up for.

The grass is always greener and all other assorted cliches. I found myself missing my lonliness/ extreme independence (they came together). But now I'm done. You mentioned the key: it's not so serious. You never HAVE to do anything. There are always choices. And so on. And these changes you're making: all good.

Yikes. I need to stop prattling on and do some work.

In conclusion (my favorite student-written conclusion-starter), you are good.

ejnw06 said...

You just blogged my life story in this posting. I guess it is the prospect of the long haul that can be so unsettling!