Friday, September 28, 2007

Consequences of fun

My week is sort of over. I had a productive day today - spent all day at the office, working my way steadily through a long to-do list. The most important part of it? I submitted my SSHRC application (well, submitted it for the rounds of my Chair's, my Dean's, and the university's signatures). That puppy nearly killed me. I easily spent 80-100 hours on that thing. I cannot tell you how happy I was to see the end of it. Though it's a little odd to think of 80+ hours spent on it, and me incredibly unlikely to reap anything from that. (Last year's success rate for the New Scholar category was 22% - though it was apparently closer to 50% at my uni, which is something.) Feels like a bit of a futile exercise.

The weekend is going to be a workfest, as all week has been. There were serious consequences to my mother's visit. Although I did some work every day, it wasn't enough. I got so behind that this week was easily the most stressful I've had in years. I did that awful thing, waking up at 5 in the morning - having worked until 11 the night before - because I hadn't finished my prep for the day. It's when I do things like that that I feel like life sucks.

That's fucked up, right? That we -and it's not only me, I know - face the consequences of having fun?? After all, I did in fact do some work every day. And yet that wasn't enough. There's something seriously out of whack here. And next weekend - Thanksgiving - my friend Kim is coming to visit for four days. I won't really be able to work during those four days: Kim is a very organized and efficient lawyer; she is so organized that, thought she works the crazy hours of any lawyer, she is also able to schedule time off and enjoy it with reckless abandon. That's what she'll be doing here next weekend. And all I can think of is the awful consequences of me spending the weekend having fun with her. Again - the consequences of fun. How ridiculous.

(And I fully recognize that I've taken much of this craziness on myself, organizing conference panels and initiatives and doing a SSHRC app without thinking about how they would actually play out in the fall.)


squadratomagico said...

As a dedicated fun-seeker, I fully agree: it's entirely fucked up that a small amount of fun means horrendous stress in the aftermath. But, if it's any consolation, it does get better. As you know from my blog, I now have a lot of extra-academic activities that would have been unimaginable to me just a few years ago. After a while, I just had enough teaching under my belt to be able to do it without a huge daily investment of time.

Hilaire said...

Thanks, S.

You know, the thing is, there is a way to make things easier on myself: to be more willing to wing it in class sometimes. I know full well that I *could* do that with some of this material, in the small class (the one I was prepping in the pre-dawn hour on Thursday). I kept on thinking that: I have 2 years of full-time teaching under my belt, I've taught this stuff before, it's stuff I know well, and I've been a very successful teacher - why can't I just sketch out some questions? Cause I often let the class take me where it will, anyway - we don't always follow what I've prepped. (Including the before-dawn day, when we got completely - productively - off track and ended up watching a youtube video and discussing it - meaning I didn't need all of that 5am prep!) I just feel like I need it to fall back on. Ultimately, I'm still too much a shy girl to feel like I can take that risk. But I need to learn how to do it - because it would free me up in weeks like this, when I had so many non-teaching responsibilities (admin and research deadlines) that I was sunk.

dbm/gaa said...

Take the risk! I did out of necessity and I think things are so much better now that I don't overprepare. I just wack together some slides, plan an activity and that's it. It felt weird at first, now it feels perfectly normal and I wonder why I spent all of those years writing out lectures. Try it for a week and see what you think, you can always go back to your other way if it doesn't go well.

heu mihi said...

Hey, I was up doing pre-dawn prep on Thursday, too!

Well, while it may certainly be true that winging it sometimes would be for the best, I'm not going to let you blame yourself for your stress. Some time off is warranted. And it's crazy how (early-stage) academic careers make it impossible to enjoy that without dire consequences. Full support from my end, in other words.

Pantagruelle said...

Congrats on submitting the SSHRC app!!! That's a huge accomplishment! (I decided to blow off doing one at all, let alone the two I was originally contemplating; invested the energy in job apps instead.) Doing those new scholar ones for the first time is so incredibly demanding that you deserve some fun. Consequence-free fun, as hard as it is to imagine. I agree with you it's hard for us to have fun without consequences, I felt like that pretty much 24/7 until a couple years ago, but if you do begin to blow things off a bit, it becomes easier as time goes by. Academic deadlines are never fixed. And I do tend to agree with the people who suggested less course prep. My first real class I typed up notes until 3am every morning before going in to teach a 9am class, 120 pages worth of notes for one class by the end of the year, but there is a lot to be said for winging it!

medieval woman said...

Oh my dear! I'm so glad you got that SSHRC app in - congratulations!!