Thursday, March 30, 2006

Throwing Things at the Wall And Seeing What Sticks

A Professional Development Post

Ok, so I'm supposed to be translating my article into Chicago Style. I have procrastinated about doing this all week long. I need to send it off tomorrow, so there is no time like the present. Also, I generally do not allow myself to internet (and yes, I'm using that as a verb) in the evenings, as I don't want to become the sort of person whose life is dependent upon the computer all the time. But I thought to myself, after I a) spent 2 hours going to Target and to Pet Smart, b) had some lunch, c) took a nap, d) went for a power-walk (incidentally: work-outs for me are so much better at the gym, but with the nice weather I tried to do the outside thing; the problem is that I'm l-a-z-y and I don't push myself without seeing numbers on a screen), and e) talked to my mom on the phone, that I should break my rule about interneting by night and check my school email. I especially don't do this under normal circumstances because I do not want to fall into being available to my students 24/7. But so I checked my email, and what did I find?

Ok, so remember at the beginning of the week, how I should have been editing my article and turning it into Chicago Style? Well, I didn't feel like doing that. And so, I thought I'd procrastinate by sending off a proposal for an MLA Special Session. Now, why did this seem like something I should do? Well, it was my whole "Throwing Things At the Wall" theory of Professional Development at work. I thought to myself that if I wasn't doing one kind of work (grading or editing or changing into Chicago Style) that I should do another, on the off chance that it might become something. But we all have submitted abstracts to proposed MLA Special Sessions before. (Well, all of us lit types. If you're not one of those, just replace MLA with your acronym of choice.) We all know that the likelihood of having one's proposal accepted is like... zero. Especially when one sends in the proposal to a person whom one does not know, and the proposal is about a topic of which one only has experiential knowledge and on which one has done only minimal scholarly work. I mean, what is the chance of something sticking to the wall under those conditions? I was just procrastinating, right? Nothing would come of this, surely!

Apparently, the chances of something like this sticking to the wall are quite good. I just heard back from the organizer. He said he's very interested, and he asked me to send along my CV. Of course, this may not mean a thing. He could see my CV and say, "yes, you're not really worthy of inclusion on my panel," or he may include me and the MLA may reject the panel as a whole. Who knows. But, let's say that things actually turn out nicely and that none of those problems happen. Let's say I'm accepted and it's accepted. You know what that means? That means I have to go to fucking MLA for the third fucking year in a row. Even though it's totally inconvenient and even though I always regret how tired it makes me and losing that time off of my far-too-short break. WHY? WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?

Well, it's partly that I really love the MLA convention. Truly. I think it's fun. I know that's insane, but hey, others must like it, too, because I'm not the only person who goes all the time. And yes, of course, I'm actually pleased as can be to have gotten this positive response to my ideas, and I'm even more pleased because the organizer is also trying to put together a collection on the panel topic, and so if all goes well this may end up meaning another publication opportunity, too. All very exciting.

One last thing, though: I'm stupidly over-committed already and I've no idea how I'm going to fit in even just one more thing. Please, should I mention trying to throw anything else at the wall, tell me that I am an idiot.


Dena Marie said...

Dr. C --

Your wish is my command---"You are an idiot!" (Hey, you asked us to say it!)

Seriously though, it does sound like you're over-commitment is bordering on red-zone here. You may want to cool it. I over-commit myself as a rule, and I'm sure we're both doing it for the same basic reason -- a fierce competitive streak (an especially good thing to have in our field, eh?).

I'm certainly not against "over-commitment"; it's a relative term anyway, right? However, if you get *too* over-committed, you'll burn out! Not good!!

Good luck sticking things to walls, and congrats on the MLA interest... an exciting boost for your ego and CV. :-)

Oh, and I'm really sorry to hear about the chemist. I've learned to expect this sort of thing with online dating though: "Well, I liked him *before* being turned off by his overall physical appearance/demeanor. Does that make me shallow?"


Maria said...

Seems like you're a little overbooked, but if you're like me you always "bite off more than you can chew" but manage somehow to swallow it down. Even if it somewhat painful.

I'm a little jealous -- I want to be going to MLA.

I'll take your place :).

Cats & Dogma said...

Well, I too enjoy MLA, and am looking forward to enjoying it more without a job search in the background.

If the panel "sticks" we'll get drinks in Philadelphia. And won't that be fun?

gingajoy said...

yeah, but it's one thing to go to MLA as a job whore, and another just to be going along and present and be a really academic and all that. good luck!