Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Easing Back into My Academic Self, One Blogpost at a Time

I need to blog more. I'm getting to the point where I think I have to have something to say in order to blog. This has never stopped me before!

I'm stressed today. I went to work and had two stress-filled conversations and either because I'm hormone-addled or radically de-centered or both, I totally internalized them. I need to become more able to shrug things off, less susceptible to whatever crap people say. The fact is everyone's doing the best we can and that's the end of it.

The good news is I'm 21 weeks pregnant, blood tests have come back negative (I'm so brain-befogged that it took me a couple wide-eyed blinks to register that this was a good thing), and I can feel the baby kick. It's amazing how much being kicked at from the inside really does feel like there's a separate being in there. I had wondered if it would hurt or if I would seize up and make it an unpleasant experience or if it would be easy to confuse with the g-i tract pain I've wrestled with for most of my life. The answer is: no. It feels like my belly is the inside of a drum. Absurdist Fetus kicks at all sorts of times -- and when this happens at work I can't believe I'm supposed to pretend that it isn't happening and focus on all this crap going on outside of my body. All the cool stuff is going on inside my belly.

In the spirit of counting my blessings (before getting on with the inevitable kvetching, you understand), we also live in a lovely apartment, Mr. Tabby seems to be very content, and we're getting a bunch of interest in the trailer that we emphatically did NOT get last week, when we were praying that we'd sell it in time to not have to ask my folks for the rent. Well, I did ask them for the rent and they gave it, another blessing -- and this week, it looks like the trailer may well sell to any one of five or so different prospective buyers. Let's not count our chickens yet, but please cross your fingers. The trailer not selling has been a thorn in our sides, making it really hard for Absurdist Lover to focus on getting a job (which provokes family members to comment on their "expectations" of him, stressing me out, like today -- though of course I want him to get a job too, but really trying to explain that he really is no slouch but it's impossible to do everything at once -- GAH!!!! it just plain drives me crazy). You see how easily I've gone from the counting of blessings to the kvetching. Oy.

Fundamentally, I'm just not centered. When any little thing happens, I'm thrown. I get overwhelmed easily. Last week, I ended up crying in the bathroom at the office. Absurdist Lover and I had awoken that day thinking this was the day we were going to sell the trailer. There was this buyer who had offered $1,000 less than what we asked. Then the next day, he had offered $1,000 less than that. We didn't have a lot of buyers, and we needed the rent money like mad, so we agreed. Then the schmuck showed up at Lake Campground offering $1,500 less. Absurdist Lover sent him on his way. When AL called, I was already having a shitty stressful day. Hence, crying.

I've decided that I need wireless. I feel different when I can sit at my laptop and write or work, as I'm doing now (pirating off some wonderful generous neighbor's wireless). Since AL loves to play online games, we are sharing the one desktop. I think I'll just feel better if I can connect with academic conversations via unrestricted internet access (restricted by my asking to use his computer -- he doesn't say no or anything, but somehow it's easier not to ask, especially when I just want to putz around in cyberspace). So with Friday's paycheck, a wireless router.

I have two weeks before a SAT course I've been signed up for may begin. (It may not run at all, though usually people sign up at the last minute, so we're not sure they'll run until then.) I have to be prepared that my free time will radically diminish at that point -- especially, the time in which I have to revise this article I've been putting off. The official turn-in date for the revised article is a mere 10 days after that anyway. Have I started? Why no. Of course not. Is it likely that getting back into my own work will help me center myself? Why, of course. But do I want to look at their feedback? Why no. So because of the various reasons I need to get myself back in the academic mindset (this article, the fact that I really should have three articles on my CV by the dreaded Fall Job Market, the dreaded Fall Job Market that I need to prepare materials for), I have decided to make more of a commitment to blogging. Blogging makes me feel more connected. And I don't feel at all connected to the academy right now. No one in my daily life sees me as this professorial academic person. I'm a bookkeeper, a pregnant girlfriend, a family member. But not an academic and writer. (Okay, Absurdist Lover sees me as a writer and is always pleased when he sees that I'm writing. But it's hard to write when there's someone else at home. Moreover, it's hard to write when you don't have a self you can write from, a voice that feels like your own because everything, even your body, is in a state of dynamic transition. This is probably stupid and untrue, but it really feels this way, that my life is too changeable for me to. . .I don't know. . .know my own mind, to do much else but try to get through it.) I'm amazed at how much I depend on other people to remind me of important parts of myself, like being a writer and academic. I wish I were a stronger person, more grounded, less shaky. Instead, I'm very flexible. This makes it easier to cope with different situations, but makes it much less likely that I'll get academic or writerly work done when not in the kind of environment that values such work. (When I was working on the diss -- a mere year ago -- I didn't have so many other demands on my time, so I could focus on it even when I wasn't teaching. Not that I didn't have terrible days, but I also had amazing days, and I was surrounded by people who were also academics, also hating life for the same reasons I did.) In countless personality profiles (some astrological and numerological, some more grounded in real things, like Myers-Briggs), it says that I'm the kind of person who really needs to remember that she's more than the faces she wears. Why is this so hard to remember? In any case, it is. I have to make time for academic work and writing, for feeding myself in those ways through reading, participating in those conversations that have consumed me for the last five years and then somehow flown out the window. (Have I mentioned that I have only a fraction of my books, still very little of my stuff, that despite that I own gorgeous furniture and a bed and all sorts of things, we sleep on a fold-out loaned to us by my parents? I'm grateful, but. . .) All of my memberships have lapsed. People are doing wonderful things in my field. People a year behind me have gotten tenure-track jobs. I'm happy for them, but I feel like an academic loser. I think this makes me want to focus even more on being pregnant and gardening and being with Absurdist Lover. And then it's a bad cycle that feeds on itself as I focus less and less on the academy and feel worse and worse about it. I feel the same way about writing, which has not been the focus of my life for quite a while now. Somehow I feel like wireless is a step in the right direction for all this. Maybe I'm nuts, but we'll see.

I think right now I'm going to look quickly at the comments that the editors sent me. I know that they are not going to say, it's wonderful, dahling, don't change a thing. So I'm just going to buck up and hope that they also don't say: you're a hack and just forget about ever getting a job in this field. I know I'm going to be sad after I read them. Just knowing this makes me feel better about looking at them. I better do this now, or I'll lose my nerve.


I'm an idiot. Any worries about the fact that the article isn't fabulous are completely outweighed by how wonderful it is to get back into my work, work that still feels to me to be important and vital and alive. I want to wake up one morning and get to be an academic all day long, none of this going into the office and then hoping that I have a smidgeon of energy left over for it. I need to build that job into a three-day per week gig, which will also allow me more mental disconnection from the bullshit when I'm actually there. I'm a professor, damn it. I just happen to be currently at large, rather than connected to a specific university. So there. Yay! The answer, my friends, even when I was at Adventure U and felt pretty disconnected from the conversations that really jazz me, is the work itself. I love teaching, but I also really love the intellectual and exploratory work of scholarship. I need to remember this when I start applying for those 4/4 teaching loads out of desperation in the fall. (Of course, not all 4/4s or academics are alike: look at Dr. Crazy!) I guess it's good that I decided against going out for those 5/5 community college jobs.


Sisyphus said...

Hooray for sticking the toe back in the water and feeling good about it! You can do it!

PS where is all your stuff --- it isn't in Far Away Adventure Land, is it? How will you get it back?

And hooray for Absurdist Fetus, doing backflips and swimming in the belly.

I like the professor-at-large stuff; I'm going to have to steal that for when I finally file.nq

Earnest English said...

Sis, all my stuff is still in a storage unit in Grad City, where I put everything before I ventured off to Adventure U! I could certainly get it -- but with work and being pregnant, it seems ridiculous to travel 1800 miles to get it, drag it back here, and then put a good deal of it in storage in the much higher-priced Urban City! On the other hand, I want my stuff! Waaaa. Okay, the whine has ended.