I am Become Academia

I don’t know how close technology is to being able to digitally transport food, but it does feel like I was emailed a year’s worth of groceries along with rent, alcohol, and those straws that bend around and you can wear them like glasses.

Like a junk food iv you can wear on your face

Last week, I interviewed for a job because sometimes when you want to keep participating in existence, you have to sit in a little room and prove to an audience that your approximate use value is equivalent to a salary they are willing to pay. A few days after the interview, I received an email that told me two things: I will be able to buy groceries, and I know exactly how much a year of my life is worth. I got a job teaching full time.

Considering I’ve been taught that my existence can be roughly summarized as the financial and symbolic equivalent to a dollar store ham sandwich, I’m actually super jazzed that I could convince someone that I and my English degrees are worth at least a fraction of the money that went into getting them. That seems like the real goal of college: convince someone that the degree you bought with all that time and effort and midnight fast food is worth, at least, as much money as went into getting it.

New job, no homework, and a paycheck that would actually let me buy real catnip instead of just letting my cat sniff some of my more pungent teas. This all sounds amazing, but at what cost does all of this really come? Sure, I spent 4 years in what amounted to a stress, nap, and work frenzy. Sure, I spent two years following that bribing my body with caffeine so it would let me put in just one more 80-hour week. Sure, I actually admitted I am not a paragon of writerly brilliance and sought out help in writing my application materials, but I feel like there’s something more. I feel like there will be some new cost that comes once my name is on the contract and my foot in the door.

My skin was glowing but at what cost?

I think they’re going to change me. I’ve bought enough Coke and “hydrating facial cleanser now without microbeads that turtles choke on™” to know I’m relatively susceptible to suggestion. I think I got into studying rhetoric because some part of me recognized just how much of my purchasing and Youtube history showed that commercials are a pretty big part of my life.

Along with my role as the ideal audience for literally every commercial, I have also noticed I have something of an addictive personality. I used to drink a doctor-certified unhealthy amount of coffee. I had a brief-but-loving fling with tobacco a few years back. And some who analyze my writing very, very closely might eventually come to the conclusion that I think alcohol is just neato.

What do you get if you combine someone open to suggestion with someone easily ensconced in obsessive and addictive habits? You get someone who is eager to dive face-first into the shallow end of a job until they’ve somehow managed to create a deep end where once there was none.

Ahh this is nice, but I’m gonna fuck it up

I have this habit of making too much work for myself while also relentlessly arguing, again at myself, that I actually enjoy it. The problem here is that I already love teaching, and I’m already at that point where I’m really excited to get started working. However, I’m a bit worried that my habit of burying myself in whatever I’m doing will end with me absolutely consumed by the dispassionate machine that is academia. If I get in over my head, there isn’t going to be an end in sight. If I start drowning under all the work I’ve made for myself, trudging through to graduation isn’t as much of an option anymore because I usually teach in the summers too.

I know I’m not the first person to worry about getting too involved with their job, but I also know it’s the first time I’ve actually had only one thing to really focus on, which means this, like a fresh field of plastic grass, is new terf for me.

How do people find some form of balance between work and who they are when work is the biggest thing happening in their lives. For the last 18 years, my answer whenever people ask me what my weekend plans are was homework. Only more recently has grading also become a viable option. But now there’s just work and, I guess, other things? What else do people do? What happens where there isn’t more work than you can manage, so managing that work is all you are?

15 Replies to “I am Become Academia”

  1. Congrats on getting the job! 🙂
    Now you need a hobby. A non-writing hobby.
    Have you tried “Extreme ironing”?
    Mole sexing?
    Dressing up as a monkey and playing pool?
    (Other hobbies are also available)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you!
      I’m quite familiar with extreme ironing, but I have no idea why. Considering how I haven’t even managed non-extreme ironing yet, I might have to wait on that one.

      As for the others, I’m just terrible at pool, and mole sexing sounds… I don’t actually know what it sounds like.

      I do like this idea of a “hobby,” and I’m going to investigate it further.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve just described my life, except that I retired a year ago. Now I’ve become this manic person with at least 5 projects going on simultaneously. The immersion never ends, but at least I get out of bed when I’m good and ready now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. you do pose interesting questions. I’d like to say something smart, but i’m not sure what – just take life one day at a time and see how that works.
    I know someone who says that she’ll never take a teaching job for all the money in the world for two reasons: she’ll spend all that money in drugs to keep her sane, or she’ll use it to get admitted.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think I’d end up just as drug addled if I had as much money as I’d ever need. I think my goal is just to try to separate myself from work every now and then, maybe by taking naps and not trying to break my record for how quickly I can respond to an email from a student

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Being active and allowing yourself to respond isn’t a bad thing. but i do get your point and as long as you remind yourself that you have a life beyond work, i think you’ll be fine.

        Like

  4. Take up non-electronic gaming? The gaming community is full of basically anti-social people who tend to like all things swordly and dragonish. Because most of us gamers are bad at being social to begin with, there’s very little vacant small talk. Many of us also enjoy imbibing multiple alcoholic beverages while playing games. Also, lots of games have wonderful story elements. Some board games are kind of pricey, but lots of local game stores will have board game libraries where you can borrow games to test them out and see if you want to plunk down the cash for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s actually an amazing I idea. I’ve seen a lot of people playing board games, and it always looks so fun! I’m definitely a bit antisocial so more of my kind would be wonderful.

      I may have to investigate this

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know of an excellent local games store near Prescott…not sure if you’re anywhere near there, though. If so, look up Game On and go check it out. The owner, Josh, is a great guy and really knows his stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. You can enjoy the hobby of spending your weekend worrying about all the stuff that will happen at work, like I do! It’s a lot of fun! – eye twitch –

    But for real, maybe something crafty/that keeps your hand busy but allows your mind to somewhat relax? I’m really into needlework (crocheting, mostly, which’s actually very relaxing), but you might want to try something your hands would be happy doing? 🙂

    I hope you find any hobby that doesn’t involve visible insanity!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m already giving in to that specific genre of twitchy, and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop.

      I do like being crafty. I have a hat I’ve just been wantonly sewing stuff to for months. I might get into crocheting or knitting or even just holding giant needles and staring out windows.

      Also, the specificity of “visible” insanity is just so accurate 🙂 I can lose my mind so long as nobody really noticed.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think we all need a picture of the hat. And don’t forget, if you get into something that uses yarn or thread, that you get the bonus of the cat ruining it. 😀

        Good thing you get me on the visible insanity. I’ve lost my mind years ago, but I have also become a pro at pretending I have my shit together. Which, let’s be honest, is when you know you’ve become a grown up.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’ll have to post it sometime 🙂
        Moira would definitely love some new string to hunt. She likes to prowl around me whenever I’m seeing something.

        I must be finally growing up because my sanity gas dwindled in proportion to my ability to lie about being totally fine

        Liked by 1 person

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