Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Crash (A Rambling and Unstructured Sort of "I'm Crashing" Post)

So I turned my grades in Monday. I don't entirely know what happened to my day after that.

Yesterday, well, I slept a lot. A LOT. Like enough for three full-night's sleeps during the semester.

Today, I went to a "training" for a thing that I didn't really *need* to attend, but as the one junior faculty member from my dept. who went, I think it was good I went. Even if I did arrive late and leave early. Was seen by and saw VIPs so my presence was noted. I hate that I've become this sort of person. While at the "training," I made a big fat to-do list and I made some plans for a feminist theory course I'm slated to teach in the spring. Nothing like a long and winding meeting to inspire one to think about new courses one is developing.

Then I slept some more.

Then I chatted with a friend on the phone.

Then I checked my email, and for the first time ever a journal has contacted me to ask me to be a reviewer for a manuscript that they are considering! Hurrah! But is it really hurrah? I've not yet responded - I'm a little freaked out. On the one hand, this is part of the profession, and I'm now clearly somebody who's got a little bit of respect as a member of it. On the other, this is work. And I'm not terribly (read: at all) familiar with the primary texts with which the article deals, which makes me think on the one hand that I should say no, but then I think I should say yes because from the title I suspect they thought of me because I can respond to what the essay is doing theoretically. Might I mention also that this is a very good journal and one to which I've considered submitting my own work? As you might imagine, I'm probably going to say yes, even though this means that over the next month I will have to....

1) read that article (and the primary texts) as well as to write a reader's report (which I've never done before and so feel clueless about doing even though, really, I've seen them and so I shouldn't freak out about not knowing how to write one).
2) read a novel because I claim that I will speak about it at one of my two conferences.
3) do some research.
4) write two conference papers (well, I've got more like 6 weeks for one of them, but you see).

And that's just the scholar-work of the next month. In non-scholar work, I will need to:

1) pack up my office and dismantle my computer so that my office can be recarpeted.
2) spring-clean the Home of Crazy.
3) make travel plans for summer conferences, including arrangements for Man-Kitty for one of the conferences (for the other he'll be staying with his grandparents).
4) have some semblance of a social life.

But for now, I'm crashing. I think the most I can hope for out of the rest of today/tonight is to sleep some more, to make some more lists (and check them twice), to spend some quality time with my M-K (who is truly the most darling kitty-cat in the world), and to talk some more on the phone. Oh, and I've been rereading The Golden Compass, too, so I suspect I'll do some more of that.

But so all of this is a long way of saying that I feel like I'm heading into a blogging slump. I'm not sure if this slump will really materialize, but just look at what happened last year at this time. No posts from May 17 to June 1, and then no posts from June 2 to June 11, and then another gap from the 11th to June 19. Only this year's blogging slump promises (if it happens) to be even worse, as I've already got a scheduled slump planned for when I'm in the UK the first couple of weeks of July. You'll all still be there when I return from the slump, right, if indeed the slump does happen? You realize that I'm not quitting blogging or something equally as horrifying? It's just, well, when you work at a place with a heavy teaching load, the summer ends up needing to be a time of increased productivity in a lot of areas. (I'm not even allowing myself to think about the fact that when I get back from England I'll have to deal with the book manuscript again. Let's just ignore that for now.)

But so yes, I've got a very full next few months ahead of me. So I suppose it makes sense that I've powered down to neutral for the past few days. A girl can't live her entire life in high gear. She just can't.

You know, though, apparently I live my life (my work-life, that is) in a much higher gear than many people do. I've had many people in my life (colleagues, friends) note with incredulity how much I produce, given my circumstances in this particular job. The fact of the matter is, I usually don't feel like I'm doing all that much. I really believe that a lot of this has to do with the fact that this job has taught me that some things on which I think many in "better" job situations spend huge amounts of time really don't (and shouldn't) require so much time. I'm mercenary for example about the amount of time I will allow for grading. I'm... not mercenary exactly, but very... regimented... about the time that I devote to things like conference papers. As much as I complain about teaching writing, I think it's taught me to "scaffold" the research assignments I set for myself much as I "scaffold" assignments for students in my writing classes, i.e., 3 conference papers build up to one article (or at least that's the theory - I really need to get another article-project underway, if that's really true) - everything leads to a bigger picture thing, and I'm good at setting small goals that lead to bigger picture things and achieving those smaller goals.

Now, of course, a lot of this is possible because I'm not in a relationship and I don't have kids. I get to let things slide that others can't let slide. This can't be the way of me forever. But can it be the way of me until something worth rearranging my life comes along to force me to rearrange it? Perhaps. I can't keep the personal stuff permanently on the back-burner - otherwise that worthwhile thing won't come along - but actually, things on the personal side are feeling more settled lately. This has absolutely nothing to do with dating. It has more to do with the fact that I feel like somehow I'm making more friends who are girls here, which for me is always the mark of a place being a good place for me. Without a posse, I'm not a happy Crazy, and somehow I seem to be slowly but surely developing a posse of friends here. Now, is it the posse of my grad school years, where Crazy had a core of partners in crime? Well, no. It's not like that. But I am feeling like I have peeps, even if all the peeps aren't connected in one big pack of going-out-ness.

The fact of the matter is, I think that kind of posse is unreplicatable given the demands on me professionally now. For you grad student readers, I'm going to say something horribly condescending: have fun now because you will never have this kind of time again! I know, I know, you have no time. I thought I had no time. But let me tell you, when I had no time in grad school, I went out like five nights a week, and I ran around like a Crazy on fire. This is impossible now. It's also not what I want now, but if it were what I wanted now, I'd have been fired or I'd have had to quit my job. Also, I had room to Think Deep Thoughts in grad school in a way I just don't now. Everything has to "count" for something now, and everything has to fit into an elaborate Grand Plan. There's no room for thinking about stuff that won't get me someplace. I look forward to a time beyond tenure as perhaps offering me that kind of space again, but I'm not entirely hopeful about that. It's not that I don't think about cool stuff now, but it's all connected to very concrete and specific stuff that is required of me (teaching, research in my field, etc.) and it isn't as wide-ranging. That's not necessarily bad, this focus to my Thinking - in many ways it's probably really good - but it is less free. Sometimes, like now when I'm crashing, I miss that.

Actually, I think what got me thinking about that today was brainstorming about the feminist theory class. I realized that I haven't read any theory that's unconnected to my research in like a zillion years. And I probably never will again. I'm a worker-bee now. Again, that's not bad - just how it is. I'm ok with it, but I do miss the freedom of just deciding to read Lacan's Four Fundamental Concepts and to use it for a paper because I thought it would be interesting. Those days are long gone.

Hmmmm.... what else in this unwieldy and unstructured post? Ooh! I got some good news today: MORE REASSIGNED TIME NEXT SEMESTER! I feel as if this blog has in some ways been my talisman - since I started it, I've not taught four courses in a semester. Thank god, as if I were teaching four courses and doing all this research and service I might have died at some point in the past six months. There's actually a lot of talk about going to a 3/3 load going on at my university (with various names for it that make it seem like it will not be "reducing" the importance of teaching but rather about "recognizing" all of the kinds of work that faculty do that contribute to good teaching). At any rate, this makes my prospects here, should I remain, infinitely more humane. And it makes me actually pretty glad that I didn't get the job that I campus visited for this year. Because had I got that job and then found out that my current job went to a 3/3 (or some configuration of that), I think I would have regretted the move. If that's all it would have taken for me to regret the move, clearly that place wasn't for me. So it will be interesting to see what the job list holds in the fall, because I'm fairly committed to going back out again should there be something that really catches my interest, but I suspect that what would really catch my interest now will be quite different than what caught my interest last year. I'm also much clearer about the fact that I will likely end up here even if I do try again, and I think I'm more ok with that now than I was at this time last year. At any rate, it will be interesting to see what I do. It will be interesting to see what my criteria for trying again are.

Ok, this is the never-ending post. But since it is, is there anything else? I feel like I may as well just throw every single thing in at the rate I'm going. Is there anything I'm missing? Oh! I know! Remember my infatuation? I bet you thought you'd never hear about him again, didn't you? But no, Crazy's infatuations never totally disappear - oh no, not even if they think they want to! I got a series of postcards from him this weekend! A. How fun is it to get mail that's not bills and B. How fun is it that my infatuation has not forgotten me! Of course, it would be impossible to replicate the craziness of that period over spring break when I became infatuated, and I do think that we are now going to be "message-in-a-bottle" type people in each other's lives - sending the odd missive via actual post - but yay! How fun and old-fashioned is that! I need all of the correspondence I can get, as does everyone, as far as I'm concerned.

In news of infatuations past, FL broke up with his girlfriend and is ever more motivated to plan a visit this summer. He wants me to come to North Carolina, but I've explained to him time and again that NC is my Bermuda Triangle and I really can't go there - you know the song, "All My Exes Live in Texas"? Yeah, well all of mine live in North Carolina. I think it's best if I just avoid the place, even if I submit to seeing one of those Exes. Also, on my trip to the UK I will have, as I think I mentioned before (can't be bothered to find the post), a full 10 days of touring around not with an Ex but with my dear and awesome friend G., with whom I did engage in a fleeting 3-month-long transatlantic infatuation once upon a time in the late-90s. Now HE was a great infatuation. Very attentive, and sent the absolute best REAL letters ever (which I've actually saved, and I'm not generally a very sentimental saver of mementos sort of person). He's much less attentive now that there is no more infatuation, but I suppose it's impossible to keep up that level of attention when nearly ten years have gone by. Also difficult to keep up that level of attention when one's object of infatuation insists on replacing you with new infatuations as well as real-life boyfriends of various stripes.

Coffee Guy? You wonder whether he's still in the picture? Meh. Kind of. Not in a dating way (to my mind). He keeps saying I should call him when I have time. The issue is, I will never have time if you leave it up to me. I need more enthusiasm from the other person. I'm sure he thinks he's being "nice," but I think he's just being lukewarm. Which, of course, is a death knell. That's just the way of me. But so anyway, I'm going to attempt to friend him, for he is fun, but I'm not interested in anything beyond that with him.

So yeah, that's all the dude news, most of which is imaginary (natch), and that which is not imaginary, well, what's the fun in writing at length about that?

I believe, for the moment, that this is everything. Congratulations if you actually made it to the end of this post - I suspect I'd have stopped reading at about the point where I say a girl can't live her entire life in high gear, which is really where this post should have ended :)


luolin said...

Congrats on finishing grades, and on the continued reassigned time.

The first ms I was asked to review was on a topic I work on but was written by someone from another field. I assumed they understood I knew the topic from the lit angle, not the (ie. I wasn't the best person to critique the methodology) and reviewed accordingly. They should give you some guidance on what they want in the report, since they all seem to want something different.

I'm glad I'm not the only one who feels like I'm not thinking the same kind of Deep Thoughts or reading as widely as in grad. school. I like how you describe it in terms of the need to plan and focus, since I have been tending to assume it is my own character flaw.

Sisyphus said...

Of _course_we shall return to read you whenever you emerge from blogging slumps! Where else do we get manic energy, professional advice and long-distance infatuations?

Other things:

- not pleased about the idea that I will never have as much time again as grad school, or read deeply as much theory, but I have heard this before.

- I'm also totally interested in hearing everything about your planned feminist theory class.

- and a random point: I just realized the stuff I studied at the beginning of grad school is now out of date, as it's been 7 years and the articles weren't brand-new even then. Whoah!

Dr. Crazy said...

Luolin: It's soooo not a failing on your part. It's the system. Or maybe I'm just overly optimistic about myself, but I think my way of thinking about it is much less debilitating :)

Sis: I'll definitely write more about the theory class as we get closer to it. Also, yes, it is horrifying to hear that one has more time in grad school than after, but take this as license to have a rocking good time right now :)

helenesch said...

I'm not sure if it's that I had more *time* in grad school, but I certainly had more of a social life! More friends to do stuff with, and making plans and socializng just took less effort. For the first 4-5 years in my job, I mostly just knew other faculty members, who were either older, married, or had kids (or all three!). So, yeah, enjoy the social life of grad school while it lasts, for those of you in the midst of it.

There's also a kind of bonding that goes on in grad school that just doesn't happen again. I still feel connected to many of my grad school friends, even when we don't talk much, in part b/c we shared this really intense experience together. I don't think I realized at the time that this would be how I'd look back on it..

Hilaire said...

I made it to the end...and enjoyed myself very much indeed!

I so know what you mean about feeling as if you can't really take time to ruminate on the work you're doing. I've been feeling this very keenly of late - I am wokring with some stuff that feels so big! And yet I absolutely don't have the time to burrow into my sources, and meander along with new leads that I find. Conference paper deadlines and all. The tenure clock ticking and all, too, even though I don't even start my new job until July 1. I too have found myself imagining the post-tenure days, ludicrous as that is considering that I'm just starting the TT job.

Congrats on being done with it all and having the (illusion) of time/space to crash in.

MommyProf said...

Totally with you on the lack of time to think deep thoughts. At the end of a semester of teaching, I am TIRED of breaking my discipline down into delectable, undergraduate digestible bits. Sometimes I feel like I simplify so much that I am lying.

Fifi Bluestocking said...

Hello Dr C.
Long-time reader delurking here.
Re. the journal reader's review: I'm in my first year on the job and was recently asked to review a book for a university press. My first response was "hurrah!", followed by "eek!". I decided to do it, although of course it created extra work that I didn't have time for, and I'm glad I did, despite the slightly uneasy poacher-turned-gamekeeper feeling, as I learned a lot. Having said that, I only just submitted it and I haven't heard back from the Press yet and maybe I have actually committed career suicide? So FWIW I'd say go for it, although remember, with great power comes great responsibility (LOL).
From one who will definitely still be here to read after any blogging slump.

Earnest English said...

Crazy, of course we will still love you even if you leave us to fend for ourselves for a long time. Whose blog will I check first, I wonder, when I know you're not checking in. I.just.don't.know.

I also didn't like hearing that I will have less time to go out and socialize later, but when you say grad school, I'm figuring you don't mean less than a week before deadlines of one's dissertation. And actually I do see people, if only to enjoy company while in the same circle of dissertating hell. Sad to think that people won't want to just sit in an office with me and complain in the future. (I'll just be happy if in the future I can manage to not get sick every three weeks.)

Your organized little-goals-lead-to-big-goals drive is inspiring. I'd love to hear more about that, since I'm going off to my first appt (not t-t) in the fall. Ohmigod. Just saying that makes me want to lie down.