Sunday, September 16, 2007

Sunday taking stock

I haven't been posting much of substance lately. I've not really had the inclination to reflect on things, strange as I feel right now. Which strangeness I think will last quite a long time.

But today I feel as if I can ask myself, how am I?

Well, I'm okay, I guess, thanks.

My classes are going great! Especially - and I can't believe I'm saying this - especially the large first-year one. They are a bunch of chatters. I ask questions of the lecture and get twenty raised hands. More importantly, they are asking questions like crazy. Even on the more ostensibly boring stuff, for which I expected a snore-fest on Thursday; they are completely engaged. The upper-year class is also lovely. So that is grand, and I'm very pleased about it.

My office feels as if it's a site of anxiety, though. I can't really relax in there. This has to do with a number of factors. For one thing, my back is to the door. I can't get over how much this bothers me. But it is anxiety-producing. (If I configure things differently, there is, like, no room in the office; it used to be different, and I was uncomfortable for different reasons.) And then because of the way my schedule is, I spend a lot of my time in my office either keyed up waiting for class to begin, or keyed up on adrenaline between classes or after the last one. There's a lot of anxious energy circulating in that small space. And then there's the lighting. Somewhere along the way I lost my own stand-up lamp that I put in my office, so now I have to rely on the bright overhead lighting. Which I LOATHE. Must change this by getting my own lamp!! I feel as if I need to also add plinky spa music and pieces of purple fabric draped around to make it feel soothing. :)

The research piece is good, though it's also a lot - too much, what with two upcoming conferences, two abstracts, the big grant application, an article recently submitted. I finished the first draft of my SSHRC application a week ago and sent it out to two people to look over for me. They're both about to send it back with their comments so that I can edit it. This whole exercise feels somewhat futile, since my chances are so low. But it's been actually quite good to have to write ten single-spaced pages detailing my project - I've nailed it in more detail than I ever have, and figured out exactly what I'm doing. Unfortunately, it's also a little disheartening to realize how different it will have to look from the picture I've painted, because I will very likely not get a grant and the tens of thousands of dollars that represents. The project could REALLY use that money.

The piece of the Teaching-Research-Service holy trinity that I am completely unenthused about is the service. Because I am spread too thin. Unfortunately, this job entails a huge service piece, what with developing a program. I couldn't even bring myself to think about it in any concrete way until yesterday, when I finally looked at some documents and mapped some things out. The thing - besides the fact that's there's too much else going on - is that I feel really unsupported. There's supportive talk - I had been led to believe that there would be help - but it is really clear that I will be doing all of this myself. And - meh. I realize that I like collaborative work, in lots of ways. Things like envisioning, which is what a lot of this work will be about, are much more fun when they are done with at least one other person. So that you can feed off each other's ideas and build some enthusiasm and momentum that way. In this case, when energy is hard to come by, given too much being spent elsewhere, I have nowhere to derive that momentum from.

Otherwise? Sadly, there's not much Otherwise. I have not much life. This concerns me. And it is certainly not what I have been before this. I always had a very rich and full life outside of work - partly because I was dancing and had that whole other universe to orbit in. Here, most people are work people, and most time spent at social occasions is talking about work. There is no escape. I did plough through the first season of Queer as Folk - a great pleasure, I found it - but that was in a really kind of over-the-top, come-home-exhausted-and-collapse-in-front-of-the-series-for-four-hours way. Balance must be found!


dbm/gaa said...

If you start draping purple fabric everywhere I'll have to come out there and slap you! After joining you in the spiral dance of life, of course.

Give yourself a wee break on the social life front, school has only been in for a couple of weeks and you are just getting used to the schedule after all. Strive to find balance, but don't beat yourself up to much because it isn't there yet.

QAF- one of my best friends was a writer on that show. I can't remember which season, 2 I think. Great stuff! Do the scenes of TO make you homesick?

Tiruncula said...

Ugh, I can imagine how uncomfortable that arrangement in the office must be! My sympathies on the not much Otherwise. I know what you mean.

Hilaire said...

DBM/GAA - Yes, do save me from what I shall become! And yes, QaF does make me homesick. On very, very many levels.

Tiruncula - Thank you for the sympathy. :)

MaggieMay said...

dbm said what I was going to say: if you start the purple fabric draping, I'm flying up immediately to stage an intervention.

About your service stuff: is there a way you can pull together an "advisory board" from other depts? This might involve a lunch meeting once a month, or some such.

Hilaire said...

OK, OK, no more purple draping! Damn.

Yes, there is to be an advisory board kind of thing. But nobody wants to be on it. And they're not going to do the actual work. Which makes me want to just make it a little dictatorship, cause if I'm not going to get any help, why consult? Kind of thing. :( Unhappy Hilaire these days, unfortunately. Dreaming of another life.