A Strange Sadness

I just found out that in transferring from lowly graduate student to Assistant Professor at nearby small college, I will lose my ability to have vast numbers of books checked out from Important Research University where I am a student. While I can acquire a faculty library card for the Research University library through my new college, I can only have books out for 4 weeks (as opposed to 6 months), can't recall or hold, and can only have 20 books checked out at a time.

There are probably at least 50 of the 82 books on my current account that I have had checked out for 10 years. (renewing every six months, occasionally forgetting, getting fined hundreds of dollars, petitioning the scary librarian to waive the fine, renewing.) And I certainly get resentful and annoyed when someone else has the audacity to recall them from me. I mean, isn't there a law or something that after 10 years the things you haven't returned, even if they belonged to someone else originally, now actually belong to you? These books are Mine. MINE!! -- screams my inner toddler.

But worse, it feels like I am losing something precious, some old friends.

I have read in many places that finishing the degree also carries a profound sense of loss. That had always seemed silly to me, I mean, who would miss this horrible self doubt, grinding pressure, lowly status, and minimal pay? But at the same time I found myself year after year still in grad school...

So in a way, this sadness over losing "my books" is probably a good thing, right? I'm getting to identify specifically one thing, at least, that I am sad about. That way I can own that sadness and the move on.

And besides, maybe this means I'll just have to buy them with the shiny new professor salary!! (I can hear Spousal Unit sighing...)


At 5:17 AM Helen said...

Hi there! I came across your blog via a link from Sappho's Breathing. I'm about to start my PhD - can't wait to give up my job and be a full-time student again. Just wanted to wish you good luck with your writng and I'll follow your progress with interest!

At 9:10 AM Stewgad said...

Thanks and welcome! Huge luck to you as you make this new transition in your life!

Here's some unsolicited (and perhaps unwelcome) advice that I wish I had had when I started graduate school: Get a bibliographic software program (Endnote, Bookend, etc.) and start using it immediately -- enter anything you read into it and jot a few notes about what it is about. That way when it comes time for your dissertation, you've got 3-4 years with of source material already logged in. I really really wish I had been doing it all along at the point I started a few years ago.

And, hey, thanks for being the first person not related to me to comment on my blog!! :)



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