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.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

State of the Wiseass address

Nameless Summer Program draws to a close, at last. It's been a rougher year than usual. My barren little blog, a vast number of unfinished projects, and a two-week-old unmade bed bear witness to my general discombobulation.

I've been sick off and on for pretty much the entire summer, due largely to stress and lack of sleep. This weekend, I have two assignments I ought to be grading, an overdue paper proposal, a bushel of unreplied-to emails, a half-cleaned apartment, and some unfinished business from a seminar to tackle. But I have, instead, been sleeping for the vast majority of the time. My body simply seems to have proclaimed "Basta!" and forced an abdication.

I am trying to take better care of myself. One of the benefits of having toiled through NSP is that I do have a little money in my bank account, so I've been making the rounds to the dentist (for the first time in some years), several doctors, my hairdresser, and the drug store. I've bought vitamins, an electric toothbrush, and a load of frozen vegetables. I'm also flossing, exfoliating, self-manicuring, and moisturizing religiously. I am going to try to start doing at least a little martial arts practice every day, coupled with morning and evening yoga. The pushers of insane grading timelines are going to have to kiss my ever-widening ass, because I am tired of feeling awful all the time and hanging my head in shame while medical professionals and Master Fuzzy scold me for not looking after myself.

One of the most insidious dangers of grad school is that it's packaged and sold as a temporary state, rather than as the substantial chunk of our lives it actually is. The sales pitch tends to influence us to such an extent that many of us make bad choices about taking care of ourselves, our finances, our stuff, and our relationships--because we believe we'll get around to it later, once we actually have a predictable income and some security.

I've been realizing with increasing frequency how damaging that kind of thinking can be, particularly since predictable incomes and modicums of security are scarce on the ground for new academics. In fact, I'm beginning to wonder whether this isn't, perhaps, the very worst effect of the Big Lie about graduate "education" within the corporate university. How many of us are damaging or losing our physical, emotional, and financial health while we continue to do the lion's share of undergraduate teaching and scramble to meet professional standards that are set higher and higher every year, all the while being told not to look as though we're eager to "pre-professionalize"?*

I can't wait until I move into whatever life awaits me before I do a better job at self-care; it's bad enough that I've given up any hope of having something like a social life in the relational Vale of Tears that is Big City.

Regardless of my new resolve, however, I do have a lot of crap that has to get done during the next week, before I head out of the country for a friend's wedding. So I will do us all the courtesy of declaring a blogging hiatus until around the middle of next week.

Via con Dios, y'all.


* By the way, if you ever want to get the old Wiseass dander up, just utter this word in my hearing. I hate it. Hate hate hate it. It's part of an ideology in which graduate students are strange little homuncular entities or monstrosities that may even have the appareance of "real academics" but somehow just . . . aren't. Folks, we get paid peanuts to do a very large percentage of the hardest work on many of the nation's campuses while desperately trying to meet nearly impossible standards for the quality and quantity of our own work. We're already professionals. Have the ethical gumption to own up to it and stop circulating this kind of bullshit in defense of exploitative labor practices.