Sunday, May 20, 2012

Checking In


In the past three weeks I have been working as much as I ever have in my life. The week before last I put in easily over 100 hours of work, while having slept a grand total of 9 hours between Monday and Friday (as in 3, 3, 0, and 3 per night). It was a perfect convergence of multiple conflicting deadlines, including a special-solicitation  grant proposal that I really really want to see funded and deadlines for print for the conference I am organizing... Being a one-(wo)man organizing committee in charge of every detail (including the website, technical program, layout of abstract books, renting poster boards, making reservations for speakers, catering...) is a lot of freaking work...

Anyway, there are a number of substantive posts I have been meaning to write, and I hope to get to them when the work insanity abates a little. Maybe...

Btw, Academic Jungle recently had its 2nd birthday! Which I missed...
On May 17, 2010, it opened with this post. Happy bloggiversary to mois!

If I had a little more time, I would write at length about why I blog. But instead I give you a stream-of-consciousness digest. I started blogging to share my tenure track survival tips. But, a blog has a tendency to turn into whatever you need it to be... Currently, I am going through some sort of premature midlife crisis, especially on the professional side. I feel restless, bored, often wondering where the spark has gone (to the grant-writing and service gods, that's where), how to get it back (no idea, probably by trimming all the unnecessary obligations and getting more sleep; in the meantime I keep plodding along), and if I even care whether I get it back (would science actually be worse off if all of my contributions, past and present, were simply removed from the picture?).

In the academic blogosphere, a number of profs write as if they have all the answers. I don't know if they really do or if that's just the internet persona. I may on occasion come across as condescending (so I have been told), but I hope I most often come across as real (even if grumpy or otherwise unpleasant). I do not have all the answers in my personal or professional life, and I hope that's clear from what I write (and I am sure someone will say that makes me a loser. Or something.) I have definitely not figured out how to be as blissfully happy as my objectively wonderful life situation should be able to make me. I have not figured out where I see my intellectual contributions and how much of my life I want to continue dedicating to the pursuit of science. In the last couple of years this occupation of mine has started seeming frivolous -- who the heck cares? I have started thinking ever more acutely, almost incessantly, about the imminence of dying and that this life is the only one I have, and whether I really want to spend it the way I currently am -- working too much for dubious glory, being less in shape and having less energy than I could, not enjoying my husband or my beautiful kids as much as could... This is all going to end in the blink of an eye and I don't like where my priorities are, nor am I enjoying all I have as much as I could or should.

So in Academic Jungle's 3rd year, there will likely be more academic musings as I wrap up my sabbatical and go back to teaching, but there will be even more musings on working motherhood and more still on academic mid-career angst (with generous helpings of navel gazing).

Have all the answers I do not.
But a gem by beloved band bestow upon you I can. /yoda out





9 comments:

Anonymous said...

A couple of years ago, I went through a similar period myself. I felt very uninspired about my research, and unmotivated about writing proposals. The period lasted for about half a year.

In the end, I realized that I had long been bored of my research direction; the realization came when I was reviewing some papers in my general area, but not my exact subfield, and I started feeling inspired and getting ideas again. The remedy was to change my research direction somewhat, which was not too hard, since my work is largely theoretical.

I don't claim to know all the answers either, but my advice would be to hang in there, and try something new. Read some papers on a different subarea. Sit in on your colleagues' classes. Maybe some new topic will catch your fancy, and inspire you again.

pramod said...

So is sleeping so little a common occurrence? I think I'm actually asking two separate questions. Are a lot of professors regularly sleep-deprived? And if so, how often does this occur?

Cloud said...

"a blog has a tendency to turn into whatever you need it to be."

Very true!

I've got a post in the works with the next steps in my own career crisis- or, I should say, my latest career crisis, because I've had one before. I'm feeling a lot more positive now, though, as a plan starts to take shape.

And yes, it will all look better when you get more sleep. I have two rules of working motherhood: (1) make no life-altering decisions when I am desperately sleep deprived and (2) make no life-altering decisions when I am weaning (that really messes with my mood).

Looking forward to year 3!

Anonymous said...

I love you because you seem so real. I enjoy reading your posts, your academic and life situations. Whatever direction you choose to avert your mid-life crisis, if you have personality like me which gets easily bored, you will face this situation every few years.Good luck;

DRo said...

I hope you will keep blogging for awhile. I read for the same reasons as Anon 9:22 above. Nice to see into the heart and mind of a successful academic and comforting to know that at least one other person out there has crises such as these.

Dona Furiosa said...

I'd love for you to keep on blogging, too. You are honest and, even though my circumstances are different, I feel I can relate to what you say.

BugDoc said...

I always enjoy your blog posts and hope you keep it up! We seem to be at a very similar stage in our careers and I find your experiences and thoughts illuminating. Hope the workload lightens up a bit...

Fishleaf said...

Thank you for your blog, and for this post!

Dr. Sneetch said...

Arriving late to the party. Happy Bogiversary. I'm so glad you decided to blog and I enjoy reading your posts.