Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balance (a quest)

It's been a while since I've written a real post (I'm not counting yesterday's rant), because working on two projects has diverted all my creative energies. But this morning I cracked the 80% mark on the conference paper [new material], and I've been able to get the introduction and first chapter of my copy-edits done, so I'm feeling a bit more relaxed, at least for the moment.

So, as I've said before, this is an ambitious semester, in terms of writing. A draft of an article, a polished conference paper (for November), a draft of another one (for May), and the copy-edits on the book. January will be Big Conference, packing up for sabbatical leave, and preparations for a three-month research trip. So, I'm busy. There are other things, too -- pesky things on the "teaching" and "service" front, but I'm just not looking at them. This is a marathon semester, rather than a sprint, so I keep my eyes on the next tree or telephone poll that I'm running to pass. Mini-meltdowns are going to all be part of the process, I figure.

I didn't plan it this way. It just kind of happened. But in case some of you were thinking of doing this on purpose, here's what I've given up so far, 7 weeks into the process:
  • a clean apartment
  • a stocked refrigerator
  • getting home from the office before 8 p.m.
  • sleeping past 6:30 a.m.
  • clean hair
  • cooking
  • taking pictures
  • long walks with neighbor C.
  • phone conversations with friends (except those lasting less than 10 minutes)
  • e-mail correspondence
  • any social life whatsoever
  • falling asleep before I'm utterly exhausted (otherwise the anxiety keeps me awake)

Oddly enough, I've managed not to get sick, despite all the colds and flus in the air, and despite hosting a sniffly six year-old for 48 hours last weekend. Honestly, I think it's the same phenomenon as the two weeks leading to the nearly simultaneous submission of my MS and my tenure file last year: the adrenaline seemed to act as a temporary immune system boost. But this isn't healthy in the long run, right?

In any case, my colleagues lately have been stopping by my office with helpful suggestions. Two think I should start dating (yeah, right -- with what time?); one thinks I should take up drinking (a world of no); another says I need sleep (this one strikes me as reasonable), but also deep-fried foods.

I'm tempted to go with the standing suggestion of my old friend the Wizard Chimp: "Mmmmm...chocolate..."


AliceAcademic said...

Among my friends in college, showing up to an exam with clean hair and a good night's sleep was a sign of not being prepared enough, so your giving up on all this other stuff is a sign of your dedication to the writing cause!

Still, if its any help in the sleep department (which seems kind of necessary in the case of a marathon semester) I'd recommend Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer or Sleepytime Extra (which has valerian in it). They really work for me.

Great work this morning!

ER Doc said...

Cross-country move? The research trip, I suppose? You haven't mentioned a new position.

Historiann said...

I'm going to bookmark this post and show it to anyone who bitches to me about how tenure demotivates people and just encourages them to sit around on their lazy bums soaking up taxpayer money.

By the by, what drives you, Notorious? You've got tenure and promotion; your book is coming out; there are no raises where you work these days (nor where most of us work, to be sure); and the job market, which was never all that great, is especially bad these days. (And senior hires were always hard to come by, anyway.)

What's your secret? Are you stuck on that hamster wheel of academic success, or are you working with a particular goal in mind?

Notorious Ph.D. said...

@ Alice: Thanks for the suggestion. I'm going with Tazo's "Zen" with honey tonight, but I have a friend from Fellowship City who swears by the two you recommend, so I'll probably pick one up.

@ ERD: That's right -- it's more getting ready for a long research hiatus, which includes packing up an apartment that I can't afford to maintain while I'm away.

@ Historiann: One or more of my deep-seated psychological issues are at fault here, I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your inner two-year-old has grown up. I'm somewhere in the foothills of this mountain range myself at the moment; there's only so far I can let the house slip, but social life and adequate sleep went long ago. When do you reach the end of this corridor? Good luck, anyway.

Bookbag said...

I feel tired just reading this post. Does next semester promise to be any easier, or is this the way things will be for the foreseeable future?

Historiann said...

Notorious--I don't think you have to assign blame or fault. I'm asking a serious Big Question: what are you after?

You turn 40 soon, right? I've noticed in the past year that a lot of my friends who also turned 40 recently are asking Big Questions about their lives, about their health, and about what they want to accomplish in the next 40.

Bavardess said...

You might want to add a multi-vitamin to your relaxing tea. In my experience, it's always when the pressure comes off and you can finally relax that the lurgies strike (I almost always get a cold during the summer holiday, after working like a mad person through the winter while others drop around me).