Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Oil Me.

I can't help feeling a bit like the Tin Man as I return to this blog---I'm so rusty I'm frozen in place. Perhaps some girl with cute shoes and a dog will come and rescue me? And then I can go and get a heart! Or discover that I had one after all!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I really hate The Wizard of Oz. I know it's heresy to all of you Garland-worshippers and members of the Lollipop Guild, but I've never been able to get on board the train (flying house? whatever). But the metaphor remains, I think, and since I appear to only be able to think in metaphors, it will have to do until I can find another.

So what have I been doing since, oh, JULY 31st? (good grief.) Mulling. Wandering, sometimes in the desert. I did effectuate a house move, which really threw me for a loop (I don't recommend it, kids, I really don't. Especially not the weekend before classes start). I taught my first semester with tenure. I backed out of a major conference at the last minute because I couldn't finish my paper. I pulled off a pretty tremendous athletic feat, only to beat myself up about it later. I weathered the pedagogical nightmare of the most severely disabled student (and her team of resource people) I've ever had. And, as you might imagine, I complained. A lot.

Here's the part that's going to be tricky: garnering your sympathy, even as I reveal my incredible, incredible privilege. Because here's the deal: I'm on leave this semester. For good behavior. And it is everything you might imagine it to be: lots of time to read, and think. Weekends are mine own. I've seen movies, I sleep through the night, unplagued by anxiety dreams. I work out when I want to (and because I have to, because leave=fatness, let me tell you). Bliss. Thank you, oh gods of academe, for this most excellent of job perks.

In the midst of all of this goodness, then, what could I possibly have to complain about?! Truly, bitch, wtf? Feel free to do some slapping around, if you must; it's nothing I haven't said to myself already. The economy has tanked, taking the profession with it. I'm lucky to have a job, lucky to be tenured, incredibly lucky not to be furloughed. And yet, I'm plagued by this rudderless feeling. Call it mid-life crisis, call it bourgeois pseudo-nausea...I attribute it directly to the post-tenure moment, and I'm stuck between wondering if it's a professional problem or it's one that I've just created for myself by running my career in the wrong way. Basically, it goes something like this: work work work to get into college, work work work to get into graduate school, work work work to finish dissertation, work work work to get a job, work work work to get tenure, work work work to? for? Bueller?

I think that I've always imagined that I was a pretty independent thinker. I've been lucky to have been in situations where people that I admire and respect were willing to listen to some pretty hare-brained, cockamamie ideas that I had and to help me to go forward with them. This post-tenure, academic leave situation, however, gives the lie to that whole idea. For what feels like the first time in my life, I'm without an inspirer/mentor, and really, without a clear goal. And without those things, all work seems arbitrary. Could I write an article on this contemporary novelist that no one is publishing on? Sure. Could I research a famous columnist who needs more academic attention? Yup. But I could also learn to play an instrument, or build a website, or practice my armpit farts. They all seems equally valid and exciting on any given day. All this directionlessness is making me absolutely fucking batshit crazy. And sendentary---because without a direction, I can't bring myself to move at all. I'm going to assume that someone would tell me if there were an albatross hanging around my neck, right? [Look, Ma, from The Wizard of Oz to Moby Dick in 10 paragraphs or less!]

My return to the blog, then, is a bit of a flail, but one that I'm hoping will be productive. I've missed this little thing, and those of you who remain (and how impressed I am by those of you who continue to write! Kudos! I bet you have goals and shiz!). Let the navel-gazing begin!

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Blogger Sisyphus said...


I am highly disappointed. Where have you been? You can't let a little thing like being busy and/or completely losing one's sense of direction to get in the way of entertaining me, after all.

What you describe (and the blog silence) reminds me a lot of what Dr Virago went through when she got tenure ---- have you read around in her posts? Other than that, I have no advice.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 8:24:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Well, we moved, but I don't know so much about the decorating. Would you accept pics of various woodland creatures spotted outside our house?

Meanwhile, I'm off to go look at Dr. Virago's posts *right now.* Thanks, S!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010 8:11:00 AM  
Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

Welcome back Kfluff!

Congrats on the leave, that's awesome news. Hope it turns out to be equal parts restful and productive.

BTW, I hate Wizard of Oz too. Never, ever understood the appeal of that movie. It's soooo creepy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010 10:32:00 PM  

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