Monthly Archives: May 2012

And merrily did he…

… wrap up the semester at Private University with an out of class-time scheduled final review for four sections.  Public University ends classes in two weeks. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.  Not looking forward to the five (total) sections of finals I will be grading here in a week or so. But, I am thrilled for the end of the month. Uninterrupted reading, research, maybe a jaunt out of Big, Overbearing City for a while.

Interesting new reading on my primary author that delivers the rare gift of unique, cogent and lucid observations.  Every time I really hunker down into a new piece of scholarship that fascinates me, I am disappointed that I can only ever read for so long before other responsibilities force me to set the book down.  Any time I really engage my research I want to crawl into my cozy research hole and disavow the rest of the world. Given my continued enthusiasm for reading, writing and learning (I scoff at you, burn out!), I think my project would move much, much faster if I could really give into it and clear my plate of  the teaching. I’d miss my students terribly, though. They have a way of keeping me closer to the ground, less cerebral in my daily life and of much better humor (not to mention keeping my social skills honed).

When it all gets to be too much, the teaching, the keeping up with the research, I usually develop a temporary obsession as a pressure bleed off in my down time.  The current obsession takes the form of documentaries (NOVA, things on physics, space) and I’m working through Hanks’s From the Earth to the Moon.  Current Public Transit travel reading: Brian Greene’s The Elegant Universe.  

What does everyone else do to bleed off the pressure when their minds just shut down?


Help! My students ate my doctorate

or.. it was my cat. Or… my printer jammed. Or.. gay mafia.

It is true. I am (yet another person) blogging to chronicle the slow churn to insanity that teaching full time and trying to finish a PhD has put into motion. I have convinced myself that holding a full time lecturer position is very good practice. (of course, the salary is convenient).

Yet, this wonderful exposure to department duties (re: I’ll do whatever you ask because I want my contract renewed!) leaves my “real work” (aren’t we all so pithy in the tower) on the table waiting to be read, waiting to be written… waiting to be attempted.

And so, almighty Gods of Research, I confess before you that I am indeed a Sinner. Absolution has been granted by my committee who finds this position to be “extremely important” to my professional development.  “You’re on schedule” one says.  Yet another joins: “You can slow down because you’ve never dallied”  Enablers!

In truth, I’m so very grateful for this job, enjoy my colleagues and I’m thrilled when my students achieve. Yet, there are four (forty?) books on my desk that are starting to accumulate their own dust – I”m not sure if they’re generating it or collecting it but I am positive life may sprout soon.

I want to engage them. I want to know their dry, methodical secrets. But the 90 chapter exams sit next to them saying: “You hate us, but we pay your rent. We win!”

And so, the good intentions of keeping the job, paying the rent and giving students (moderately paced?) feedback pave the way to Academic Sins.  Mea culpa.

Any one in the same boat with some wisdom on fighting the fatigue and meeting personal goals?