Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Snot Faire

Yes, there is a snot festival going on in my head. Still. I have been sleeping about twelve hours a day, which makes me suspect that the old iron supplements may have to be choked down again. Sometimes being vegetarian sucks.

As you can tell from the first paragraph, I have had very little to say lately. Or rather, haven't felt like saying anything. I'm trying to keep up with all of the paperwork that I need to do to change my status in the department so that I can be done by the end of this year, and start thinking about the coursework I need to finish (yay, incompletes!) and the polishing I need to do on my masters papers. Plus the inevitable hunting down of my committee members to explain that plans have changed since they agreed to sign on must soon commence. And really, all I want is to be able to get a real fucking job so that I can live my life.

It's really strange. A big part of Who I Am has always been "smart." And so I graduated With Honors, etc. from high school, then college, then went back to grad school so that I could be a Professor and be Professionally Smart for the rest of my life because everyone really expected me to Be Something. But this job? Sucks. There is very little about academia that I still like after nearly eight years of higher education. And as much as I'd like to say it's been a necessary learning experience, it's hard not to think that I should have known sooner that this is Not For Me. I remember many discussions with various friends about being A Sociologist, and thinking it odd that this is a master status for many of them. Being a sociologist was always about a means to an end, not the end in and of itself for me. It was a job, researching and teaching, that would be interesting and challenging, but ultimately a job. And I think that's where being Professionally Smart became impossible for me.

I don't want my life to revolve around my job, or more importantly, the one facet of my identity that my job serves. And I am sick of having to prove to myself, my family, every fucking teacher I've ever had who tole me I had "so much potential" and could "go so far" that, yes, I really am smart. Because what none of them ever knew, or at least, never told me, is that after you've graduated from high school NO ONE CARES! No one cares, and frankly, there are other things I'd like to work on being.

I'd like to work on being well-travelled -- that doesn't happen when your only reason for leaving town is to go to another fucking conference in another generic hotel in another city that you'll never see any of because you have to spend all of your extra time working on your presentation. I'd like to work on being artistically expressive. As much as I've tried to incorporate expression into my classes, involve kinesthetic learners and students who best process information via multiple mediums, and generally sought to show how sociology and art can be linked in that they provide a lens through which to analyze the social world, neither students nor sociologists really go for this. And to a point, I can understand: in order to garner respect (and funding), sociology has systematised itself nearly to death, trying to prove itself a valid science; and in our contemporary world arts and sciences are polar opposites.

I'd like to work on being healthy again -- on being a kayaker, on being a tap-dancer, on having time and energy to do anything except work on tomorrow's lecture while worrying about finishing my grading while thinking about the paperwork I need to trn in and the several papers I need to write. I'd like to work on being an advocate again, giving time to people who need it, voice to people who aren't easily heard.

I have all of this stuff that I don't use -- physical and metaphorical -- because this one part of my life has eaten up all of my time and energy. I have two foreign languages that I'm losing the use of because I had to give them up in order to specialize my Smartness. I have umpteen zillion hours of crisis training. I have two boats that haven't hit water in two and a half years. I have a story that I've been outlining for three years but have felt too guilty to write because I should be working on Things That Matter.

So maybe I'm wasting my potential, but I think I'm fine with that. If I've gotta work for money to support these things I want to do, then I'll pay the devil his forty hours a week. The all-consuming Career costs more than I'm willing to give.

(Erm. If you're still reading, thanks. I've had this gnawing at my brain for days, so it's not too coherent, and mostly not rational.)

3 Comments:

Anonymous Jon said...

No, you're wrong - that was quite coherent, and very rational...except for the extremely misleading title and TMI in the first paragraph :)

I know well those "discussions with various friends about being A Sociologist," and you've hit the nail on the head perfectly: it's a really crappy way to define who you are. Or, at the very least, it's a very underwhelming way to define who you (I love that word). People go into sociology b/c they have passion about the world and want to somehow try to make it better, or at least make better sense of the things that suck. This is not encouraged as much as it could be, unfortunately, by the institutional and cultural environment of academia - a fact that seems to surprise everyone except people in academia. I'm trying to make it "a job" and not "a life," but that's mostly because I don't have a feasible backup plan or the guts to jump ship without one. Some of the sociologists I know who make it "a job" and not "a life" are not in an enviable position either: most take the strategy of simply following in the footsteps of some particular Super Smart Person or "sociological tradition" and then work it death to get lots of (relatively lame and uninteresting) publications and then become ideological reactionaries in their defense of the gaping holes in their particular dogmatic version of sociology - and I'm not namings names, but you can probably guess a few of the people I'm thinking of. :) The point is, the type of "Smart" that this approach lets you define your life in terms of isn't really all that Smart or Desirable. Not choosing that type of "Professionally Smart" is, in terms of being Intellectually Smart, quite wise, especially if you actually want to do something positive about the things you're interested in. So, my point is this: don't let anyone get away with equating "Smart" with "Depressing And Alienating But Secure And Moderately Prestigious Professional Life."

See, you're inducing rambling in others too!!!!

9:26 AM  
Blogger Bill said...

I won't ramble, I promise... 40 hours a week is fine, it still gives you plenty of time to do what you want to do or what you feel you should do... kayaking, dancing, changing the world... making a difference is a lot easier when you don't have to correct papers, I'm sure...

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can I say ? Well written except for that very last sentence which seemed rather , well not to rational or coherent. (Maybe the eddysnakes have hacked your accout ? Might want to look into that...)

We have to live with ourselves the rest of our lives. Best we be at peace with ourselves, whatever that takes.

Rob

2:15 PM  

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