on what isn't working
no, I’m not dead!
That’s the good news. The news after is sort of a mixture of things. There are lots of reasons why I have appeared to drop off the face of the earth (though if you follow me on twitter (@fadesintointent) you’ll know I’m definitely still alive and kicking!) and some are good and some are frustrating, so let’s break them up into parts.
I’m back in graduate school
This is a mixed bag. I’m also “back” in graduate school in such a way that I feel mostly outside looking in. After two years apart, I’m now technically enrolled but still working a full time job outside of academia. I was lucky enough to have some fellowship money left over, so my enrollment doesn’t have to be tied to my teaching labor; instead, I’m working my eight hours (usually more—I’m clocking a little over 41 hours a week every week, more on that later) and then going home and writing my dissertation proposal at night. Theoretically, I do my “exam” (an oral defense mostly focused on the proposal) next month, and I hear on Tuesday just how terrible my first full draft was (not great but I’m also so done with the process and with academia as a whole that we will see how much I care.) But the way I’ve arranged it, it takes up a whole slot of time that I had been using for reading!
It’s funny because mentally I keep going “when the proposal is done, I’ll have more time to do other stuff I want to do” (I have like two other projects I also want to be doing but do not have the time for right now, on top of other reading I want to be doing!) but after this, there is only more writing in my future! So I suppose I have to start getting used to it, shaping my life around that pressure, or learning to live with it in such a way that when I’m not writing, I’m not just wasting my time because I should be writing (my favorite part of this process.) (That’s sarcasm, I hate that feeling.)
I’m down to reading two books at a time.
Remember how I was experimenting with this? I’m still experimenting, but it does feel like I’m reading more slowly. Part of this is that when I was getting bogged down in a 400 page book (damn boat books…) I still had other books I could turn to and get through more quickly. Remember the multiple months last year when I was reading two 500+ page collections of feminist writing? What if those were the ONLY books I was reading at a time? I would get through fewer books! And that’s sort of what is happening right now—if I feel stuck in a book, there’s only one other book to turn to! So it’s slow, and slower than it used to be. I’ve only read fifteen books this year, which is pretty good, but at this time last year I was at about double that amount.
I’m hoping to continue to read more, especially over my spring break next week, but it is moving a little more slowly than I had anticipated. Who knew that reading fewer books at once means I would get through fewer books? (At least according to this year!)
Deep, enormous sigh. I knew my reading would take something of a hit with work, but my job is also increasingly creeping into my life! This has been part of a larger struggle regarding working, the kinds of work I’m drawn to, and the limitations on that kind of work. (Related: if you know of any library jobs, or work like that, in Chicago, can you please send me the application link and/or put in a good word for me?)
I know that every job has its problems, and I can’t tell if I’m just more frustrated because I see the cracks in it more than I would have at another stage of my life, or if it really is as bad as I make it out to be (it feels pretty bad.) I have been frustrated for most of my life with the Way Things Are, and it feels like it has only been compounded by working in a place that is very tied up in what is currently possible and the dream we claim but don’t seem to be working towards.
The struggle I seem to have, which I’m sure at least some people can relate to (if not many folks who read this!) is that because work takes up such a great deal of my time, I want it to feel meaningful. I like working in settings where I serve some kind of public good—there’s a reason I’m drawn to library work, for example, or to teaching (yknow. Was drawn to teaching.) The problem with that is it contrasts with my other desire, which is not to have my job completely take over my life. I woke up, for example, at 5:30 this morning (30 minutes before my alarm) and couldn’t go back to sleep because I was thinking about restorative justice at our school (a series of policies that we claim to be trying to put into place but trust me, it’s not going well.) Much of that is on me, but it’s also on the environment in which I work—one that demands more and more of my time, because I care about students. (Our superintendent once lectured us about how we love our students and it was wild to watch myself be exploited in front of my own eyes like that—and I don’t even claim to love students!)
So I’m on the job market again, even as I continue working in the same job. I haven’t been getting many interviews, which is frustrating, but I’m trying. But also: applying to jobs takes time, and there’s that built in guilt factor! If I’m not writing my dissertation proposal, I should be applying for jobs, and not writing the other things I want to be writing on here!
So that’s the update from me, on where I’m at. So many things to do and so little time in which to accomplish those things—or a continued imbalance of life that leaves me without the space I want to work on my own projects and pursue my own interests! Like would you believe I’m also doing research right now for a curriculum project? And have a book project on a back burner? And a plan for a collective summer project? And and and? And yet this is where I’m at, with the limitations I’m working with.
I hope you are doing well, and are seeing that once again we need to step up and take care of one another in the face of state neglect. If I can encourage you to continue to wear masks around others, I would like to add my voice there. I will certainly be continuing to wear them, at least for the time being. Take care of yourselves, and each other. <3