Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Random Bullets of "Yes, I'm Still Alive"

I knew I hadn't posted for a while, but when Comrade PhysioProf sends you a one-line e-mail inquiring as to your continued non-deadness, it's probably time to post, even if you can't do so in flowing prose. So, here's me the past few weeks, in bullet form:
  • I thought the pace would slow after tenure. Instead, what I find is that my work allocation now consists almost entirely of scheduling meetings, attending (or chairing) meetings, and filling out and submitting paperwork (often itself meeting-related). Teaching and research get whatever's left over.
  • Actually, now that I think of it, a chunk of my meetings are teaching-related: I decided that, in both my undergraduate classes, I gave students the opportunity to rewrite the first paper, but only if they met with me and present me with their plan for revisions. And my graduate students need to meet with me about their paper proposals.
  • Last night, I finished a draft of a five-weeks-overdue guilt-inducing project for a professional organization. I feel much better now. I also feel like I should have gone with my instincts and said "no." I did, in fact, say no to an outside thing I'd really like to do, but have no time for.
  • After almost two years, I may be ready to date again, but I have no idea how one goes about it.
  • I haven't been doing daily writing or yoga, and I feel stiff in both cases. But it seems like my spare home minutes are about grading.
  • Although I did take an entire work-free weekend to myself two weeks ago. It was nice. Put me behind, but it was nice.
  • I'm headed to Puddletown tonight! For four days! There may or may not be family drama.
  • Holy crap, I'm tired.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

In Which Girl Scholar Ponders the Road Not Taken

Lately I've been thinking more about this whole research/teaching/life balance thing, and no more than yesterday, when I was having a conversation with a friend and junior colleague. We were just walking to another part of campus to grab a cup of coffee to take back to the office, and the subject turned to teaching, and our recently increased teaching load. We're up to a 3-4 now. That four-course semester is rough, but it's even rougher on some of my junior colleagues, many of whom have been protected from even three-course semesters.

So, this colleague was talking about how he was dealing with it, and was making noises about how he was not going to be able to publish with the extra course load. At first, I was inwardly incredulous -- after all, many of us have been teaching the "increased" load for most of our time there. But then I had two thoughts:

First thought: it's only partly how much you're teaching; the real shock comes with adding a course to what you're used to handling, regardless of the absolute numbers. Whether you're being increased from a 1-2 to a 2-2, or a 3-3 to a 4-4, it's going to feel like the world is coming crashing down on you head. So it's not really fair that my first, fleeting thought was "sack up, man!" Thought banished.

Second thought: As I was trying to make encouraging noises ("Hey, I think you can do it -- it just takes some getting used to." "If you want a writing partner to keep you going, let me know. I'm happy to have someone to work with."), I found myself doubling back. Because I realized what I'd given up to maintain even a semblance of productivity under increased teaching loads: when I'm keeping on top of both teaching and writing, I have no life outside work. None at all.

You may think I'm exaggerating. I'm really not, or at least not much. If I socialize here in Grit City, it's with work colleagues. I don't have "vacations" so much as work trips to places that sometimes offer interesting scenery while I'm there. I haven't been on anything resembling a date in almost two years. I haven't taken the camera out in weeks. Nada. And still, I only seem to have time for six hours of sleep a night. Meanwhile, my colleague has a happy marriage in which he and his husband spend time together, cook, see friends, go on trips. Doesn't that sound nice?

It occurs to me that I may have made a bad bargain.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"The World within Reach" (*some restrictions apply)

This is going to be a hellaciously busy week. I made it so by taking a day off work Saturday, so now I'm facing 50 papers to grade, a committee meeting to chair, reports from said committee to write up, an assessment presentation to prepare and present, and then Thursday I leave for a weekend workshop.

And if I wasn't so busy, I'd blog about how SUNY-Albany (motto: "The World within Reach") has just told all of its professors of French, Italian, German, and Latin to retire or look for work elsewhere, because said university is eliminating those programs, leaving Spanish as the only language taught at this 18,000-student, Ph.D.-granting university. I'm sure I'd rant and rave, and perhaps have at least one intelligent observation in there.

But it's past 8 a.m., meaning that I'm late leaving for work and the beginning of my Very Busy Week. So I'll just link to the story as reported in Inside Higher Ed, and leave the comments to others.