Fragments from the Frazzled

1. Yesterday, invited by a cool grad student / Research Support Facilitator / Hook & Eye reader, I sat on a two hour panel about social media and academics at McMaster University. I talked about Hook & Eye more than I thought I would, particularly during the obvious and inevitable but vexed question of how much of your personal life should you share on academic social media. You know where I land: we’re human beings, and this kind of sharing I have found to be very empowering. And I was happy to hear myself interject into what could’ve been a Twitter versus Instagram conversation this: “Well, I’m a feminist. Back in the day we used to say the personal is the political, and it still is.” It made me happy to do that. Thanks for the invite, Pamela Ingleton!

2. In that vein: I’ve been working flat out, full days with no long phone calls to my sister or leisurely walks home, getting up before dawn, typing before bed, since January 2. I’ve worked from home precisely one day. I have two inches of grown out hair that desperately need cutting but I don’t have time to spare the 2.5 hours for the salon. My meetings are scheduled back to back to back, and I’ve taken to putting my braces in my pocket so I can eat lunch with one mittened hand at 2pm as I walk the 15 minutes beyond the edge of campus to get to my class. I’m always one or two minutes late, hangry, frozen, constricted. There’s no breathing room.

3. I think the snow is really beautiful. I like looking out at 5am and guessing the temperature from the texture, the sparkliness, the edges of the snowbanks. I’m pretty good at it. Snow makes me feel competent. I grew up up North; I like to wear Sorels and wrap my scarf over my nose.

4. We have three open searches underway in my department, two tenure-track and one definite term lectureship, and probably 2 more DTLs to be advertised imminently. I’ve read so many job files, been to so many talks and meals and meetings and then special meetings and then votes and then re-votes that I’m completely burnt out. I have to read 8 more long list files, somehow, before noon today.

5. I’m teaching an online course that I just finished designing. I built this cool interactive thing with all kinds of low-stakes engagements, and then several graded homeworks, and all kinds of bells and whistles and provocations to keep the students engaged. I really worked hard at it, from a pedagogy and a technology point of view. Internets, I myself go DAYS without logging into the course. I keep forgetting about it. I’m appalled.

6. My yoga teacher training homework for the month is 95% complete. It’s also late.

7. My Christmas tree is still up. The cat seems to have unplugged one of the strings of lights. I’m calling it my mid-winter tree. What happened to me?

8. I’ve helped craft 25 annual performance reviews of my departmental colleagues. First, my colleagues are awesome. But. It’s taken probably 15-20 hours of work on my own, plus easily another 15 hours of committee meetings so far. We’ve got another three hour meeting scheduled this week. It’s not done yet.

9. Oh, and since I’m on the program committee for DH2014 in Lausanne, I’ve reviewed well more than a hundred conference and panel proposals.

10. I just missed an extended writing deadline. The writing is so far from done that I despair of writing back to the editor.

11. I feel it’s possible, at this point, that I could burst into tears at any moment. It’s not that I’m over scheduled, although I am. It’s that I can’t seem to get on top of everything. It’s that I have to carry my shoes and a computer and huge textbook across the frozen tundra for a really long walk just to get to class. It’s that I can’t eat when I’m hungry, and I have braces and that complicates everything. It’s that I’m so busy assessing everyone else’s awesome research (job candidates, grad student chapters, student papers, faculty colleagues, DH conference proposers) that it makes me super itchy to get back to my own at the same time that it’s nearly impossible to do so. It’s that our hiring process is such a big deal but such a terrible rush, and I don’t know how I feel about definite term lecturers (it’s complicated; I’m really thinking about it). It’s that I try to do a little research (graphic memoirs) in bed at night between collapse and sleep, but then the insomnia hits from not having enough blank space in the day.

There’s nothing exceptional here. This is just my job and my life and there are months or semesters that go like this and it is what it is. Still. The personal is the political; the professional is the affective; sometimes, never letting them see you sweat, as the ad used to have it, means none of us have permission to feel overwhelmed and competent at the same time.

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