Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Avoidance Maneuvers

So, I'm back in my apt again and dealing with all the little crap that returning entails --- things are being unpacked, and cleaned, and cooked, and moved around, and avoided. Mostly the laundry is being avoided along with some mending, but I am also avoiding the job wiki. (Good going, kid! Keep it up and your sanity may yet return!)

I am also avoiding the dissertation, which is not so good. Like usual, I overplanned my trip to my parents' and brought along more stuff than I could do, both academic and not (witness the mending) and then spent the long weekend talking to family, vegging in front of the tv or computer (or both at once) and generally doing nothing. Not that this is a bad thing, esp. the whole reconnect-with-family thing, but oddly enough all that vegitating did not put me in a bright and cheerful up-and-at-em mood that would make me tackle my dissertation. Actually, it just made me want to vegitate longer. Now that's counterproductive. If anybody finds my mojo, please return it.

(Side note: Inside Higher Ed linked to me today, I see --- meaning that I got a huge number of hits without having any new material on the page, and in fact, while driving across California and away from the computer. I don't think my post on Scum Letters is one of my better ones, but what the hey. (Slow week on the web, or was the IHE compiler phoning it in this week? Who knows?) But anyway --- welcome, new people! This is actually part of my diabolical plan to lure you in and bore you to death with the trivia of my life. Hop in, the monotony's fine!)

I hope that I will magically put myself back in the mood tomorrow morning --- my plan to finish at least a solid draft of this chapter by MLA seems to be melting in the air. See that word counter moving over there to the side? Neither do I.

When I worked that one morning (Thurs? Fri? I'm too lazy to check my post) at my parents', I spent the majority of the time reviewing what I had and re-familiarizing myself with it, and I think that needs to happen yet again, now that I am back in my usual work place. This means I've "rebooted" my thoughts on this chapter at least 3 times now this month. Gah. And worse, each time I do that I run the risk of coming up with a new and different (or just wrong) throughline argument for the work, depending on what I've most recently said or read or seen. (For example, I saw Shooter with the fam and ranted about it and now I run the risk of making my chapter be entirely about why libertarians suck. This has nothing to do with my topic. But I just may blog about it, if I can do that without it derailing my actual chapter argument.) How to balance being disengaged enough from the world to really focus on what I need to write, while not being so disengaged that I feel like I'm living under a rock and I make myself so depressed I can't do any work? (In other words, I need to roll my rock not hide under it, heh.)

(Other side note ---- we need to be balanced or else the craft will tip over ---- it's been awfully silent on the request-for-more-materials front. Now, search committees, you had off for Thanksgiving and I didn't bug you, and Monday and Tuesday to come back and start going through your piles of initial materials. Now can I have some happy emails? Please? I have pie if you want. I also have cake, since we finally celebrated my birthday last night. It's chocolate...)

Now my brilliant plan was to use the writing challenge month to distract me from the job search waiting game. This has backfired. Unfortunately, boring stuff you don't want to do is not actually very distracting or engaging. And not working on the diss, especially when you're feeling at your back the cold blast of debt and the rattle of obligations, and are fully cognizant of being ABD as a detriment on the job search, only serves to intensify your anxiety and depression. On the other hand, cheer up: there's always tomorrow for a change of mood and a new start. After all, tomorrow is ... hmm. What's the quote I'm looking for? "To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, / Creeps in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last syllable of recorded time; / And all our yesterdays have lighted fools / The way to dusty death."

Hmm. Maybe that's not quite what I intended...


Sue Who said...

Way to go with those rock metaphors! It's only appropriate, too, as you are between a rock and... well, under a rock.

Just so you know, it's not just "you". There are two equally daunting and difficult tasks facing you, and it's only natural that you are struggling through them.

But you know all that already.

Loose Baggy Monster said...

I think your mojo and my mojo might have run off together! Here's to hoping that they come back soon.

Maude Lebowski said...

you are narrating the story of my life right now sis.

i wish i could offer some cheerful advice, but i'd rather just commiserate with you. i seem to be stuck in a vegetating mopey state myself for all those same reasons you list.

keep your chin up because mine's so far down in the muck i need a forklift to get it out.

kermitthefrog said...

Nov. has been frustrating for me too, precisely because of the number of times I've had to reboot. Here's hoping for some happy email to distract us from rebooting.

Earnest English said...

Sis, I think you're right in line with what's totally normal. Last year, I didn't get any diss work done from about the end of November until maybe February? (Of course, then I sprinted because I had a reason to. Anyway.)

Even those of us piled under grading feel the murk. Personally I'm in the swamp. Is that you over there? I'd like to go crawl under a rock, but only to hide.

May those dumb search committees finally get off their asses! I wish for you many happy emails. (Me too. I think.)

heu mihi said...

I surrendered the dissertation last job market and wrote a novel about demons instead. From December 6 to January 24, I think, that's pretty much all I did (and I finished it; at 90,000 words, it's longer than my diss, damn it). I loved it; it was exactly the kind of work to absorb some of that awful nervous energy. I also knitted a sweater and baked all of my own bread. I wish that I had half that much energy in the normal course of things.

Point is, not-working-on-the-diss might just...happen at this time of year? I know, you need to get it done, but maybe there's another, more enjoyable outlet that would at least take your mind off of things and get you into a happier mental space.

Or, you know, you can just blog about your frettings; I always enjoy your metaphors! But entertaining me probably isn't your main concern at the moment....

Sisyphus said...

heu mihi, that's cool that you wrote a novel! (a whole novel? Wow! Are you publishing it? I may have some readers for the blog, but it doesn't bind up well and get sold like a novel would).

I _have_ been cooking a lot --- my new hobby, I guess --- but of course entertaining you all with rock metaphors is my primary goal (ee, I will try to branch out into swamp metaphors as well; I need to be a well-rounded complainer!)

Here's to everyone, hoping that they will be able to reboot into productivity rather than be stuck staring at the Windows Blue Screen of Death.

Ok, I _really_ need to work my metaphors more.