Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Churn.

I spend most of my time balancing a cheerful focus on my many good fortunes against my achievement gland. I'm finding that balance is getting unbalanced this term, and the gland is acting up.

In part this is because (good fortune!:) I've finished my new book of poems, and now I need to begin considering what I want to happen with it, which makes me more aware of the Po Biz than I characteristically care to be. In part it's because friends, in some cases grad school buddies, of mine keep showing up on Fresh Air or on the NBA list or getting MacArthurs or some such laud--news that I register not with bitterness or even jealousy but with a consciousness of how I, you know, need to get my ass in gear.

And in part it's because I am increasingly forced to realize that I am one person. Just one. Which means that, in a 24-hour day, I actually CAN'T grade all the papers I need to return AND prepare for class AND spend two hours at the doctor's office AND build a new fence. Moreover, I CAN'T replace my burnt-out taillights, AND work on the anthology I'm editing with a quick-approaching deadline, AND write my RSA paper before I hit parent-teacher conference at noon. And, to my surprise, I CAN'T read the thesis my grad student is defending tomorrow morning AND arrange to have my dead tree cut down and carted away AND figure out why my car is leaking oil AND spend most of tomorrow doing something Awesome & Special because the Things have no school.

How can I get my ass in gear on scholarly obligations when my I may need to surrender my car to the shop? How can I turn in the anthology on deadline when there's a giant dog that keeps lurking into my unfenced yard to shit his monuments to trespass everywhere? How can I publish a manuscript when I have three theses to defend this week?

I'd like to think that many of these responsibilities are delegatable, but they're not--there's no one to delegate to. And I'd like to think that all of us who were stupid enough to go into this gig can commiserate, maybe form a kind of academic support group, but at times it just seems very isolating.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

That sounds like an awful lot of stuff for one person to deal with in a short amount of time. Ugh. Ugh. Ugh. I'm really sorry.

Congrats on finishing your manuscript though. I salute you for finding time for the poems with all the other busy moments!

Lisa B. said...

Yes, congratulations on that book! That's wonderful news. The other stuff...well, it is a nightmare, isn't it? Or: it's grand, it's life, it's all of that. Or somewhere in the middle.

I wish I could conjure you up an assistant. Wait: I wish I could conjure us both up assistants. Also, and perhaps not unrelatedly, I wish we were both just a little richer. Not Mitt Romney rich--we-can-afford-assistants rich.

Blue Cheese said...

I hear you, sister. Sometimes in this gig, we have to separate the "have to-s" from the "have have to-s." I haven't yet figured out how to do that. Or do less stuff. But I haven't figured out how to do that either. Or let some things go. But I haven't figure out how to do that either.

But you are teaching killer classes (word on the street), finished your book (woohoo), and have to wonderful boys. So, the "have have to-s" are in good shape.

Sulpicia said...

Congratulations on the MS, that's great to hear. I've sadly no clue of my own as to how to get round that particular problem (if only!). The best I can manage is to say try not to feel guilty about the stuff that, physically, you just can't do.

Leslie said...

OMG! I know I'm supposed to commiserate (and believe me I do), but seriously, a new book of poems?! Wa-freakin-hoo! Best news around.

And yes. the I am woman hear me roar thing gets old in a big way. If we all could only have one or two "full-time" jobs...And my amazing things are on a whole different order of magnitude than your amazing things, so I do. not. know. how you do it. Am glad you do, but really don't understand.