The Weight of Stuff

Lately, it seems like blogging is the last straw that just might break this camel's increasingly overburdened back. I'm finding it sad, and am mourning the loss of this regular part of my life. It seems to have gone the way of many me-related things this semester: exercise, vegetables, mowing/pruning (man, does my lawn need mowing!), household care, personal hygiene (man, do I need a haircut!), sleep. The only reason I am wearing clean underwear and can eat off of clean dishes is because Spousal Unit is the best partner in the whole wide world.

I had a 4 day break starting last Saturday and I did NONE of the things I had planned to do -- like cut the lawn and get a haircut. Let alone, work on my dissertation. I did briefly clean the bathroom, but that was purely motivated by fear that the flora multiplying at a phenomenal rate in our toilet was going to mutate and become sentient. Other than cleaning the toilet, the only thing I did was sleep. I took a 3 hour nap each day Saturday and Sunday and then went to bed at 9 or 10 and slept until 8 or 9 the next day. I was so beyond exhausted. I was bone-tired: so tired my bones ached. Yesterday, I managed to stay awake all day by reading fiction and watching Buffy. {Sidebar: Stewgad's top 5 favorite Buffy Episodes*: 1. Tabula Rasa - s. 6; 2. Fool for Love - s. 5; 3. The Zeppo - s. 3; 4. Something Blue - s. 4; 5. The I in Team - s. 4.} So, as a consequence I'm at work today on a deserted campus and I'm having trouble making myself actually work. I have 200 papers to grade and a lecture to write, a unit to plan, stuff to scan, and I can't seem to make myself do it.

I had a horrible thought yesterday, as I realized that my sleep/fiction/tv time was coming to an end. Is my life going to look like this for the next 7 years, until I get tenure? Is this all there is? Will I be so exhausted that I sleep for two days every time I get a break? Will I be behind forever? And then, sneaking into that line of thought are questions like -- How on earth can we get a dog/and/or other dependent if I don't even have time to pick my clothes up off of the bathroom/bedroom/living room floor? Or, how on earth will I have time to do the other things I want to do like write a novel, learn to play the banjo, garden, blog, read other blogs (159 unread in my bloglines), or paint?

All of these things are distant fantasies, really, but I guess what I'm struggling to come to grips with is the shift from a horizon of endless possibility to a more constrained and limited future. Yes, it is a future I am choosing, and yes, I am pretty sure I don't want a different one, but in Graduate School the only thing before you was possibility -- which is often as oppressive as constraints -- like when you're in the desert or a Midwestern field and you feel the weight of the sky pressing down upon you because of the vast emptiness. Now, I don't have endless possibilities. I have probabilities and responsibilities. These feel far heavier than that emptiness ever did. More secure, safer, and noble somehow, but still, heavy. Perhaps heavier than I can carry. I guess I'll find out.

*Disclaimer -- I'm sure I'm leaving out my real favorites -- like Once More with Feeling, Hush, Becoming1/2, The Gift, The Wish, etc. but these are the obvious choices and I'm going for a little originality in my unoriginal geekdom.)


At 3:30 PM Dr. Mon said...

I've missed your postings--sorry to hear things are so heavy right now. Hopefully, its the midterm blues--hang in there!!

At 7:18 PM What Now? said...

Don't worry; the rest of your academic career won't be like your first semester. My first term, I had a full week of Fall Break, and all I did the entire week was to sleep. You've got more on your plate, just keeping your head above water, than you'll have again. (And yes, that was a terrible mixed metaphor; sorry!)

Hang in there.

At 7:28 PM What Now? said...

Oh, and D. and I also have to vote for "Doppelgangland," the finale to season 6, "Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered," the one where Buffy goes to work for the Double Meat Palace and can't tell the difference between evil and the sheer drudgery of work, "Him," ... oh gosh, the list goes on and on.

And D. wants to vote for The Body, although it's too painful for us to watch again. She says "The Zeppo" is her favorite episode of all time; she loves it in part because it's a sendup of the whole show. I just can't come up with a single favorite; too hard!

So have you gotten hooked on Angel? I appreciate this more and more for its complex handling of evil.

At 1:49 PM Pilgrim/Heretic said...

Not to scare you or anything, but I've got tenure, my lawn and hair and house are just as unkempt as they've always been, and I still spent all of fall break catching up with grading. :)

At 10:23 PM La Lecturess said...

Damn, I hear you--and I can't offer anything but commiseration! And the worst of it is that non-academics somehow think that everything we do is all so playful and fun and rewarding.

(The best response to THAT, of course, is to whip out a two-inch stack of ungraded essays.)

At 8:29 AM Scrivener said...

I hear you too. I think it does get better--"it" being the demands of teaching. But then I guess there's always committee work and mentoring of students and research for the real professors. As a glorified adjunct, the demands of the job itself are not so totally overwhelming for me anymore these days. At least, most of the time. But I still end up pulling all-nighters periodically just to get grading done and I'm always just barely finishing the reading for class. I almost never spend more than a few minutes preparing for a class anymore.

When I even think about trying to find time to do job market activities on top of the teaching and the continuing research and the real-life taking care of dependent children, I simply cannot imagine how it might be accomplished.

At 9:43 AM Stewgad said...

Thanks for geeking out with me, What Now -- I actually found my written list (developed at the same time as my 5 things I hate more than grading list) -- just to crank up the geek factor further, here is the OFFICIAL Stewgad top 20 Buffy episodes -- And yes, I'm totally cheating by counting linked episodes as one choice.

20. Hush
19. Where's My Line 1/2
18. Gone
17. Bad Girls
16. When She Was Bad
15. Life Serial
14. Something Blue
13. Angel
12. The I in Team
11. Once More with Feeling
10. The Zeppo
9. Smashed
8. This Year's Girl/Who Are You?
7. The Wish/Doppelgangland
6. Normal Again
5. Lover's Walk
4. Checkpoint (Buffy kicks her "advisors" out of her life. Why do I like this one, I wonder?)
3. Enemies
2. Fool for Love
1. Tabula Rasa

Top ten favorite lines?
1. "Nobody deserves Mime, Buffy."
2. "I'd call that a Radical Interpretation of the Text."
3. "...a one-Starbucks town like Sunnydale..."
4. "What are you doing, Spike? In five words or less." "Out For A Walk, Bitch."
5. "I'll Scream!" "Who Wouldn't?"
6. "Well, while you're up there, I mostly just want you to wriggle."
7. "Thanks for the Dadaist pep talk, Xander. I feel much more abstract now."
8. "You up for a little reconniassance?" "You mean where we all paint and sculpt and stuff?"
9. "Bored now."
10. "New Watcher?" "New Watcher." "Screw that."

Ok, enough geeking for today. I've got to go grade. ... And watch Angel. (No spoilers, please, I'm only halfway through season 4!)

At 3:26 PM Professor Bastard said...

Is it crazy to feel less crazy to know that others are going crazy trying not to go crazy?


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