Around this time last year I wrote about my inability to disconnect from work while on vacation. This year was no different, even though I have a new baby to keep me occupied pretty much 24/7.
In contrast, my husband spent lots of time playing with the older kids (in the pool and at various fun parks and fairs) and he was also able to finish one of books from
"A Song of Ice and Fire" series (the book series behind the awesome "Game of Thrones" HBO show; btw, he says the books are fantastic!). My husband actually had a vacation.
I planned on reading as well and not checking email (or blogs for that matter) but was utterly unsuccessful in my plans. Even though I am on maternity leave (well, sort of; it just happens to be summer so I don't have to teach; he nonexistence of maternity leave for faculty at my university is a topic for another post), and quite busy with the new baby, I constantly think about work. (Part of it is that, as you nurse around the clock, you have a lot of time to think and not do much else.) I think about the proposal submission schedule (which one to the NSF in the Sept/Oct submission window and which one to DOE in October and when will I finish the white papers that I need to send to the DoD program managers I have spoken with this summer, and how do I get a hold of that one manager with whom I have been playing phone tag due to poor cell phone reception at vacation site...)
And my students and postdocs have been traveling and giving talks, and that one student who doesn't listen squat has sent me a presentation to look over 3 hours before his talk, and I know he won't practice because he never does and he sucks at presenting the big picture, and yes of course he had no questions afterwards because no one can follow what he says, and my blood pressure boils again, and the paper we are about to submit is 20 double-column pages and I want to cry just thinking about going through it yet again because he has made nontrivial changes and made it 4 pages longer than what I insisted was the final version... And the large multi-PI grant will be funded, but not at 100%, so what do we cut, or better yet whom do we cut, and another grant was supposed to start in July but the agency administrative person is on vacation so collaborators and I have to keep paying students off of other grants while the darn agency person sunbathes...
My husband criticizes me how I do nothing but sit at the computer (that's when I am not nursing around the clock or trying to get some shut-eye), why don't I read or relax. Why don't I pick up one of the books from his series? I honestly don't think that I can relax enough to commit to reading such a large amount of fiction any more; long gone are the days of me effortlessly devouring the volumetric kin of "War and Peace". Even blog posts that are too long make me twitchy.
I have some sort of ADD in which work thoughts permeate every waking hour, every coherent thought. The worries about funding are real and imminent, the pull from students and collaborators never ending. The field is moving fast and it is easy to become irrelevant.
How do you detach, how do you relax? How do you prevent work from infiltrating your every pore and taking over your life?
This is, of course, what Frankie Goes to Hollywood has to say on the topic: