Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

My Photo
Location: United States

Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Hey, Hey What Can I Do?

Today, at the dojang, the music was "Classic Rock" rather than "Easy Listening." This tended to provide fewer moments of surreality than last Monday as I transcribed copy about knife-fighting techniques and cleaned up after the weekend's sparring and testing. It did, however, provide several WTF moments, since Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots apparently now file under "Classic Rock." It also--thanks not only to Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but also the Doors and Led Zeppelin-- brought back a few too many high-school memories.*

As if I needed to feel any more decrepit . . . .

Anyway, Master Fuzzy Slippers** asked me how my training was going. I said it was okay, but that I was frustrated because I wasn't progressing quickly enough and had noticed on Thursday how weak my punches and kicks looked. And I added that I was thinking I ought to try doing some weight training.

He looked at me, quirked an eyebrow, and told me that I just needed to be patient and keep working on all the calisthenics we already do in class. He also reminded me that I had too little time as it was, that I wasn't really in this to be a professional athlete, and that being a perfectionist sometimes meant getting far too discouraged at not being able to do something as well as humanly possible and then giving up.

In case you hadn't noticed yet, Master Fuzzy Slippers is both smart and very perceptive.

So, here I am, back home following an afternoon of trying to corral a huge mess of student essays, prospectus drafts, handouts, forms, books, bills, emails, receipts, calendars, flyers, office supplies, and hardware into some semblance of order. I have succeeded, for the most part. I have even managed to send a few crucial and long-overdue emails, like the one to the person who's halfway through a dissertation that overlaps significantly with mine and the ones to advisorial types about how I'm going to need them to write me some letters of recommendation very soon. I also wrote up and emailed to myself the final paper assignment for my class.

However, I am postprandially gazing at a ginormous pile of ungraded essays and quizzes, realizing that I will probably be up for most of the night again. Although I seem to have come out of my Mariah Carey Moment on Sunday afternoon (when I actually made some real, measurable progress on the prospectus), I'm worrying that this may put me right back there again.

When I was trying to explain to Master Fuzzy Slippers why I thought I'd have more time to do additional training once I get through my prospectus defense, I realized that, in fact, I would not really have more time. So I said, "You know, I need to stop telling myself that I'm going to have more time at some point. It's never going to get any better." And he said, "No, it probably isn't."

So here is what I'm wondering: If it's not going to get better, but, in fact, will very likely get worse, how am I going to survive this career? For example, I may be teaching a very draining and labor-intensive course right now, but it's only one course, and I know I'll eventually be expected to teach three or four at a time. It seems unlikely that I'll be able to entirely jettison my tendency to take on more than I should and to do things more completely than necessary. And someday, I'd really like to have something more nearly approaching A Life, too.

It seems fairly obvious that I'm going about things in the wrong way if I keep having to stay up half the night, and I strongly suspect my perfectionism is a good part of the problem. I'll be darned if I can figure out how to work any harder or faster than I already am. And yet, I know I will have to, somehow.


* Why, yes, I did hang out with the potheads. Why do you ask?
** This is going to be his blog pseudonym because he keeps wearing the darn things and has therefore tempted me past the point of resistance. This blogular dubbing should, however, not be read either as snarky or as inspired by the sheer stupidity which would have to accompany my forgetting, EVER, that he is a singularly impressive and intimidating man.