Bleah, I hate asking for help. I'm sure I have issues around asking for help that go way deeper than the usual classing and gendering of feeling entitled to help and that only a therapist could clear up, but then again, I don't do therapy. Why give them any more ammunition than they already have, is my philosophy. But anyway, now comes the time to ask my recommenders to update their letters, and to check on my letters, and to find someone willing to look over my material and work with me on how to update it all to reflect my status as someone who has been a finished PhD for almost exactly one year (yay!) --- for example, I have a perfectly good dissertation abstract that reflects what is actually in the finished dissertation. Do I update it as a "book manuscript abstract" and just toss it in all the envelopes regardless? Bleah.
So I'm blogging this with the expectation that it will function as a to-do list, or pact with the blogosphere, or some other such spur that will help me do what I need to do right now, which is to open the email account and send courteous, deferential emails to people. Bleah! It just feels so wrong. I mean, not only is it a particularly sharp reminder of the fact that I haven't gotten a job over multiple years of trying, but I have barely talked to these people lately --- some of them not at all since last year when I asked them about the letter --- and I feel as if I have long ago used up whatever obligation I once had. Seriously, this whole being on someone's committee is a commitment! I'm looking ahead to being a professor with not a little trepidation: you mean I'm going to have people coming at me for years after graduation asking for letters of rec? Whoah.
I think it is also partly about being worried about rejection. That is, rejection from people I know and like, as opposed to the fairly anonymous job market rejection, which for the most part is pretty easy to get used to, unless you start thinking too deeply of the implications of the SCUM letter pile when it starts mounting up. I'm the same way about phones. The rejection thing, I mean. I hate calling people and will often sit there and let the phone go to voicemail even when I know it's somebody I want to talk to very much, because of this irrational fear that they are calling to tell me something mean and horrible. Sounds crazy, maybe, but it was reinforced by first doing telemaretking work as an undergrad and more recently doing union and political phonebanking ---- which, since nowadays that involves everyone PBing from their cell phone and leaving messages, has often meant that I'll get someone checking their missed calls and contacting me hours after the PB is over, only to go ballistic and apeshit and ream me out for daring to think I would expect them to a) vote Democratic, b) go precinct walking, c) go out on strike, or whatever. I swear. Phones can bring out the nastiest shit. I don't know why people would go off on a political volunteer like that, unless they are like that all the time, in which case America is more fucked than my level of fixing will do any good.
Anyway, I'm rambling.
Another fear with the asking people for help/letter is that they will get mad, or point out without getting mad, that I don't have anything different on my cv from last year, and they hardly need to update the letter besides change the date as I am clearly a lazy slob. (On the other hand, that should make me feel better about being an imposition, right?) And they would be right --- I still have no publications; I have revised stuff and sent it out again but really that's no different from last year, just that I've put in different names on the cv. Stupid academia and its insanely slow publication schedule. And no new conferences this year because I wanted to really throw myself into revising my stuff for publication. I still think that was a good idea, as I have managed to not distract myself and really get a lot of work done. And I think I will continue to get good work done during the fall, but not necessarily in time to have stuff ready for the deadlines. Ah well. Absent a time machine I can't do much to control this besides keep working. (Although a time spinner like Hermione's --- now that would be great! And totally more achievable than a time machine. Perfect!)
Ok, I must do the emails tonight and figure out who's around campus right now to look at my stuff. (mmm, the quarter system sucks especially in relation to the job market timing. Fun!) If I do those things, I can go amuse myself. I do not have to go do the next annoying thing on my job market list: read my past year of student evaluations. That will wait.