Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Message from Quarantine

Sorry all. I just haven't felt like I had anything to post except the same old same old. No breakthroughs with the Pulsing Blob. No contact from POP Me U. Nothing. A good discussion in the class I TA in and led tonight. But even with that coup, my frustration mounts in proportion with my feelings of powerlessness (no matter how misguided). The Blob seems to do what it wants. And POP Me U? Who knows? Actually, I've been thinking I should be put in quarantine, I'm so crabby.

A few days ago I was reading Nora L. Corrigan's Chronicle column about job hunt madness. There was something I couldn't put my finger on, something about why job seekers go so nuts in their "petty anxieties" about staples and the "ideal candidate" that troubled me. It was only when I was thinking about them in relation to Flavia and NegCap's recent posts on the infantilization of grad school and the extended adolescence of grad school life that it clicked. After years of grad school and the kinds of social mirrors that suggest -- at least to me -- that I'm not a person because I can't pay my bills or have a decent car or be considered a full professional despite the fact that up until this fellowship-ed semester, I taught as much as the tenured and tenure-track faculty at my school, I begin to believe that I have no agency or choices -- that I am, in fact, a beggar to the feast. So I go crazy. I look for every shred of advice about finding a job I can find, because the things that make sense to me no longer have any validity. Did I go into my interview with a pad and pen as I have with every other interview since I graduated high school? No. Because I no longer trusted my own sense of things. What do I know? Nothing. That's why I have to prove myself in an academic discourse that feels alien, where I have to say that though I connect my work with other scholars, they are wrong so I can clear away enough space to assert any real opinion of my own. I realize that I'm playing the victim here, but really that's what I want to counter. Many people say that grad school is this way, has to be this way. It's the way it is and always has been. I say hogwash. There must be better ways of helping people negotiate the identity shift from student who follows the guidelines to scholar/cultural worker/academic who invites others into intellectual work. This isn't the army. We don't tear people down so we can build them back up again, do we? There's got to be a better way.

Anyway, lately I've been thinking I've never done anything at all in my life. My SO suggests it might be Seasonal Affect Disorder. I say it's just PMDD, PhD Madness Dysphoric Dysfunction. Until there's medication or a cure, I'm going into quarantine!

1 comment:

Nik said...

Hi new blogger. Fine posts re: MLA. It made me feel as if I were there. Good luck!