Friday, August 10, 2007

So Tired

This morning I woke up just in aches and aches. So I did the smart thing: went to the bathroom, had a little breakfast, and went back to bed. I finally got up but decided that swimming was out for the day, and maybe any other work too. So I've just been doing mindless resting stuff --- I did a buncha loads of laundry (not completely necessary as I've just transitioned from schlobby summer clothes to nice teaching clothes, but it was pleasant and mindless and better than only reading blogs all day) and a halfhearted start on the kitchen, but basically I've decided to take my Saturday today and have tomorrow be a work day.

I hadn't realized that teaching would just physically wear me out so! (Summer session is intensive here, which means your class meets every day for a couple hours and is over in 6 weeks.) I also think it's the fancy shoes ---- I have cute little pointy-toed mules but I think I have to walk funny to keep them on my feet. And I have to do a lot of walking ---- we figured out that the campus express bus stop is almost a mile from my house, and of course it doesn't stop anywhere near my building on campus. Add in the fact that I stand when I teach ---- er, and often leap around gesticulating wildly ---- and it starts to make sense why the front of my shins are hurting so. (When I swim, the calves ache, so a workout today would have just spread the yuckyness around)

It reminds me of the first day I worked at the university center food court, way back in undergrad one summer, and I discovered how completely unprepared I was to stand on my feet at a cash register for an 8-hour shift. It got better, or at least tolerable enough I didn't really notice, but that first few days I went home at 3 and crawled right into bed, legs throbbing. Oh, I thought, I've been so sheltered. This is why I've gone to college ---- lots of people do this as their only work, day after day, and don't get to sit down except for their 15 or 30. It hadn't really occurred to me before how our bodies are shaped by our labor. Or that the opportunity to move at will ---- shifting around, sitting, standing, taking a short nap on the couch, all whenever one felt like it ---- was in some senses a privilege that not everybody had, one that of course as an eternal student I've had the opportunity to luxuriate in for quite a long time.

I'm working under very different conditions and tired in a very different way now, but it's finally starting to sink in that this summer class will probably eat my life for the next few weeks. I've taught one here before, so I knew that, and I've definitely heard everyone else complaining that they haven't gotten any diss work done, but I had deluded myself that since I was so on top of things and organized usually and really really wanted to get this chapter moving, surely I would be the exception.

Unfortunately, my plan to dissertate for the first few hours of the morning and later plan my class does not work --- I can't focus on the diss when I'm completely unprepared for class and anxious that I won't be ready in time, so I end up prepping the class first, though it's at the end of the day, and then feeling tired and moody and unable to change gears from the class topic to the diss topic. And then when I get home and cook myself some dinner (I have been taking up too much time learning how to fix fancy food) I'm too tired and brain dead to do either diss or course work. (Of course, it's been like that all year; I forced myself to relax and vegetate in the evenings so that I don't have strange dreams where the authors in my dissertation have lunch with me and explain why my argument is wrong.)

And while I have this weekend, where hopefully I can recover and perhaps get a bit ahead on prepping, I am getting the first assignments on Monday, so soon I'll have grading on top of prepping and (theoretically) dissertating. The other problem is that I don't like preparing too far ahead, as I only have about a two-day window to actually remember what a boring article is about, and my classes go haywire so frequently (sometimes in useful and productive ways, I should point out) that I want to build off of what happened or change gears or tailor the class to what the students' need to know. I guess the alternative would be to pound away at the diss all weekend ---- you can see how excited I am about that prospect. Watch me raise my eyebrow in scorn.

But as for tonight, I shall eat delicious leftovers and watch a mindless movie, recharge those batteries, you know. And the shins. Any suggestions for my shins?


"Maude Lebowski" said...

advice for shins--ice and ibuprophin (sp?) ice for about 20 minutes. it's simple, and it'll help. it's all i got.

jb said...

Ugh. Yes. A day off definitely sounds in order.

It's too bad that your class is in the afternoons. When the Boyfriend--a consummate late-sleeper--taught his classes in grad school, he always scheduled them for the 9am slot, on the grounds that otherwise he'd spend all day prepping for them. Of course, the downside to this is that he always had such a feeling of accomplishment after teaching that he was inclined to take the rest of the day off anyway. It is utterly baffling to me how anyone gets anything done while teaching.

Maybe the best thing is to just accept that the next 5 weeks (5 to go, right?) will not be your most productive, and to concentrate on doing the "easier" tasks up to that point--reading, drafting job market materials, writing little bits here and there, that kind of thing. The demands of your dissertation might not accommodate that, of course, but taking a little bit of the internal pressure off could help you to not be utterly miserable. You know?

Sisyphus said...

Thanks! I'm much better now after lazing around and going to bed early for a couple days.

You know, in spring I was teaching first thing in the morning and had exactly the same experience as your bf. I wonder when _is_ a good time for teaching?