Saturday, September 29, 2007

So It's Still Not Done....

But I edge ever closer to being done. The problem today was that apparently I needed a day of rest, and so I didn't start working until like 6 PM. Not ideal. That said, I worked solidly and I addressed the most difficult part of the revisions that were suggested, so tomorrow is fairly smooth sailing with typing in changes, Doing the nit-picky once-over of the whole thing in which I also look at the bibliography and notes, and dealing with formatting stuff. I'll need to do one last close reading on Monday because I'm an idiot and I teach things that I research and so the book that I need is in my office. That said, I somehow managed a day that was both very productive and very relaxing.

Needless to say, my house is a STY. Which is the main reason why I've got to get this thing out of my hands, so that I can live like a human being again. You know, doing things like vacuuming and showering.

You know, it's times like these when I wish that my personal life were more... stable? figured out? That it existed in only one time zone? As much as I needed and wanted to be left alone all day today, right now I wish that I weren't alone. It's so easy for the work to be all-consuming, and if you don't have a person or people who take you out of that, well, I'm not sure that's entirely positive. I don't know. I don't know what I'm doing in my personal life.

I had thought, when I got this job, that my personal life would just be very different from what it is. I'd been living with a guy for three years and it was understood that when I was done with the PhD that we'd get married. That was how things were supposed to go. But when I got the job, he left. And so now here I am, with this life that I never thought I'd have. And I've done all of the things that you're supposed to do in order not to be a lonely person. I've done the online dating thing, I've done the going out thing, I've done the going to events that attract single people thing, and yet here I am, typing on a fucking blog at 11:40 on a Saturday night.

But what's weird, too, is that the blog has brought more new people into my life than any of the other shit I've done. Real people, with whom I have real relationships. The problem is, though, that as much as that's a good thing, it means that the real relationships I've developed are all elsewhere. And I don't want my life to be a long-distance life, ultimately.

Which, of course, is why with the final stages of the book I freaked out on FB yesterday, because the thing is, the last thing I've ever wanted is a long-distance relationship and yet I seem to find myself in one. One that is incredibly crazy and impractical and that is, in many respects, having trouble getting off the ground. And so now I'm at this breaking point with it, where it either needs to go further (terrifying) or just end (which isn't what I want). But it's all wrapped up in this job - the fact that I even know him, the fact that we're both so fucking retarded about it, the fact that I feel like he knows me better than most people I've dated in real life (including the guy that I lived with for three years) have ever known me. This profession makes it so fucking hard to just have a normal life. A lot of times I feel like my biggest problem is that I thought the personal life shit would just take care of itself once I had a job. But you know, getting a job only made that shit harder.

Because the thing is, the job is... rational. I know what I need to do both in the specific job I'm in so that I do well and in the wider field so that I gain in reputation. The steps are clear, concrete. It's all manageable. You just do a/b/c and then x/y/z happens. Or maybe y or z fall through, but still, you're on a path. And it's not unlike knowing the rules of how to do well in school. I've always been most comfortable in that area, and so it's the thing that I fall back on, the thing that makes sense even when nothing else makes any sense. Which then ultimately means that the job eats away at the personal life stuff, even though I want the personal life stuff to be a priority that actually comes before the job.

I think some people feel about relationships the way that I feel about the job - like it's the thing that makes sense to them even when nothing else does, like it's where they're most comfortable. Some people have spent their lives knowing how to "do" them. They don't have all of this fucked up static when it comes to them. My mom is like this. So is my friend A. But for me, that's always been the thing about which I've felt most clueless. And so when I've ended up in relationships, it's always felt like an accident. Kind of like a car accident - you are doing your best to avoid getting into one, but then suddenly, there you are exchanging insurance information. That's kind of how I feel about my personal life right now. Like ultimately I don't have any control over it and like I don't know what I need to do to get where I want to go, now that the wreck has happened.

And so my response to that is to put it all on FB - to make it so he needs to make a move. In part, he *does* need to make a move, but the way that I'm insisting on it has as much to do with my insecurity and feeling of just not knowing what the hell I'm doing as it does with the fact that it's his turn, so to speak. And so I know I'm not really being fair, but I don't know how to be fair. I don't know how to apply the determination and focus that I have in my work life to my personal life. I don't know how to be competent.

So why am I writing all of this here? You know, I'm not really sure. I think it's because I do feel a connection between Major Work Events for me and Personal Life Freak-Outs. The two always seem to go hand in hand. And I also think that I'm writing about this here because I wonder whether this is just me being fucked up or whether this really is related to some of the idiosyncrasies of this profession. I wonder if I'd be the same if, for example, I'd gone to law school and settled down in my hometown instead of choosing a profession that would fling me into an unknown location. I wonder if I'd be the same if I did a job that didn't demand that I analyze the fuck out of everything, because, you know, it's hard to turn that shit off. I wonder if I'd be the same if I didn't specifically choose to work on stuff that focuses on fucking sex. I mean, the fact that I spend all of this time thinking about relationships in books has to have something to do with the fact that I can't seem to manage them in my own life. I wonder if I'd be the same if I hadn't internalized quite so perfectly academia's demand to achieve at all costs.

So yes, these are my thoughts on this lonesome Saturday night. Oh, and also that the movie Failure to Launch is both entertaining and totally enraging at the same time.


Flavia said...

And so when I've ended up in relationships, it's always felt like an accident. Kind of like a car accident - you are doing your best to avoid getting into one, but then suddenly, there you are exchanging insurance information.

If there were ever a question as to why I read your blog--and there isn't, but let's pretend just for the sake of argument--that passage right there would answer it.


Margaret said...

I agree with Flavia about that particular passage: absolutely effing brilliant.

That said, I think you're being much too hard on yourself esp in relation to FB (I read the stuff over at the lounge, too, though not in real time.)

It's perfectly ok for you to make demands of him, to ask that he make a move, to NOT be ok with it if he doesn't. I am not a big believer in ultimatums, but I DO firmly believe in knowing what you want and not being afraid to ask for that, and having the balls to hit the road if you're not getting it. If you're not getting what you need out of this particular LDR-- and if there is no sign on the horizon that your're GOING to get what you need-- then you need to think about moving on.

[All this, of course, is predicated on the assumption (and your statements) that you're NOT ok with ambiguity, not knowing what the thing is, etc. If you were comfortable with all of that, for now and for the long term, then it would be fine to carry on as is indefinitely.]

I dunno-- am I being too harsh? I tend to have very strong opinions on these matters :)

hypatia said...

This post really resonated with me. Like you, I had a long term relationship through my PhD program that died a horrid death when I got a job. And I have had limited success with dating since - some of which has to do with a weird need to have them step up and take the reins. Or at least convince me that they really ARE interested in me. And my work is alternately the bane of my existence and a quiet salvation amidst it all. Anyway, you did an excellent job articulating where I am.

Earnest English said...

I read this post before I went to work this morning -- and it really helped me put things in perspective, which has been hard lately. I just realized that there is no way that, now post-grad school, I'm willing to make my academic career a priority over my relationship, which alas in long-distance. Thanks, Dr. Crazy, as always, for making things clearer for me. I wish I had some brilliant idea for you to pay you back for that, but . . .I don't seem to have anything. Perhaps work less and make space for something else? But I don't really want to say that because then you'd probably blog less! Darn!

life_of_a_fool said...

I agree with others that this is a great post, and one which resonated with me as well.

I laughed at Maggie's last question of whether she was being too harsh, just because she makes clear that you need to do what's right for you -- if ambiguity is fine with you, then it's fine; if it's not, then it's not (so, I don't think she's being too harsh, and I don't think you're being unreasonable either).

New Kid on the Hallway said...

Even though I haven't done the dating thing since 1999 (thank God! I sucked at it!), I love this post. Because if you include friendships as potential relationships, I've experienced the same thing, and I too have met way more real people and real friends through blogging (and yes, it sucks that none of them are anywhere near me).

And yes, I think a LOT of this is related to the idiosyncrasies of the profession. Everything you said in that last paragraph. Yes. (One of the reasons I may not stay in it...)

litprof said...

This post resonated with me as well, though for different reasons than what others have posted here. I think I'll post on my own blog about it, so as not to litter your comments. But want thing I definitely want to say is that although the points you raised about how you function in relationships are so well thought out and clearly articulated here, there are things you've learned in the profession that will likely translate, in amazing ways, into a kind of relationship maturity that you don't really expect or anticipate when you're on the brink of entering a committed relationship. I say this especially because of what I've learned about your feminist work and your way of thinking critically about gendered expectations. Those kinds of things make our relationships so much richer and deeper, I think, and we don't realize it until something comes up that makes us think, "Thank God I've thought this through so much." That part of you is so valuable, and not just professionally.

Dr. Crazy said...

Hey everybody! Well, thanks for all of the comments, and I'm glad that the post seems to have spoken to so many of you. A few brief responses:

Maggiemay, You're not being too harsh at all, and in fact, he and I had a good long talk on Friday about everything. When I say I'm being unfair, I don't mean that I think it's unfair to push him. I mean, rather, that it is unfair to use work as a catalyst that justifies craziness on my part. It's a think I do, and it's not terribly mature. I actually think I'm doing that less in this case than I have in the past, but I'm sensitive to the fact that the two are often linked for me.

NK: You know, I was actually thinking about friendships, too, not just romantic relationships.

EE: The blogging doesn't count as working. It counts as a hobby in which I think. And so even if I were to "work less" it wouldn't really mean blogging less. I've always got something to blather on about :)

And a final note: it's rare that I ever really fall in love with a particular sentence or two that I write, but I really loved the car wreck thing, too :)

Jenny Davidson said...

I hear you on all this! It is one of the great mysteries of life why I find work easy (relatively speaking--or not easy, but something entirely within my control that I can work hard on in straightforward ways) and relationships of the romantic/sexual kind completely elusive and mysterious! Hmmm... good luck with this trying book-finishing stage, though, it really is mentally draining...

Anonymous said...

i'm the opposite. relationships I think I get. work, meh. well, intimate relationships I get. and getting better at friendship. but I did really appreciate this post. I do keep thinking oh, my life will be all different once I get a job (ahem if I get a job) and this kind of post reminds me that isn't real.

~profgrrrrl~ said...

This post resonated with me, as well. It's not the space that I'm in right now, but it's a space I have known quite well and I'm well aware how easily it I could be returned to it.

The unexpected breakup of something long-term at a point of major personal/professional life transition? Yup. Not successful at finding a worthwhile local dating scene? Uh huh. And it sucks.

I went through my share of frustrating long distance things in which I wasn't quite getting what I needed or the relationships weren't progressing to the next step in a way that was satisfying to me. I definitely need to be on some sort of a path, and not in a limbo state. I, however, was not as brave as you to raise the issue of what I needed out of any of my earlier LD relationships. Instead, I just let them fizzle or I walked away. So -- good for your, being able to articulate your needs and initiate such conversations!

And ugh, the job ... it will take every bit we let it, and more.

Dr. Crazy said...

You know, in this particular case with me, I don't feel like it's really bravery on my part. I think it's really (as cheesy as this sounds to say) trust. Because I'm so certain of the person, I figure that whatever I'll say will work out in some fashion that won't be horrible. This is bizarre, as I'm not one for the whole trusting thing in most cases. And then there's also the "what do I have to lose?" part of it. I mean, I'm really not much worse off than I am right now if things don't go my way, so I may as well just be forthright.

and yes, the job will take every bit we let it. And that is just totally bogus :)