Monday, October 20, 2008

Attack of the Procrastination Gnomes

Yeah, I did an ok amount of work today, nothing special, and surely nowhere near what I need to get done in the near future, and then I get home in the evening and am incapable of making myself focus.

It's like I have turned into this guy --- when I was a kid, I never understood why he started every show by changing his jacket and shoes, but now I do the same, because I have gotten OLD while not looking --- and once I am home and wearing something comfortable (read: old-ladyish) and have made some dinner, I start thinking I'm done for the night. And off I go to read blogs, getting grumpy when I run low on feed material, instead of, you know, actually starting the reading for tomorrow's class! Argh.

For instance, I need to meet with my advisor for the eleventy-millionth time and fix a few final things in my letter (side note: how the fuck do you forecast a future research project without knowing if your topic has been done already? I feel like I need to research and write another entire prospectus (god no!) in the time I have left before sending it out!); I have massive work to do on the Essay of Doom which is Due Immediately and I Have Been Ignoring (EDDIIHBI for short); I need to read and prepare something at least semi-together for tomorrow's teaching; and I have work to do to prepare for a conference. I could easily double this list if I looked beyond my immediate deadlines. But nooo, instead I contemplate watching a DVD or catching up on the news. Stupid gnomes and their stupid mushroom rings of Procrastination Power! (Speaking of, I really gotta clean in here again if the place is capable of sprouting mushrooms.)

(NOT me in the picture)

But the mushrooms are so shiny, and glowing --- wait, what? Shake it off, cog! Ok, one quick procrastinatory rant before I go do my course reading at least, which may feel enough like procrastinating that I will be able to keep it up:

There's this colleague I work with, who is very nice, perhaps not always so sharp on the uptake --- or perhaps just so uncynical that concepts of intrigue and discretion (or guile) pass over her --- who I was complaining with today. We have similar problems with this program --- most importantly, we're trying to figure out what the program is and what our job duties are, because they're a bunch of hippies who go by the "oh, writing things down is so fascist; we just do what we want" mentality, which, if you come in as an outsider, basically leaves you navigating a landmine field and trying to figure out your job duties through mind-reading. There are other problems with the program too, and practices on the ground that do not match with their professed mission statements.

Now, I'm a cog and happy to be one; I'd rather be exploited as a faceless number in a machine where all the rules are set out in triplicate, the better to squeeze the life out of any of your creativity, than to be left adrift in a fog and then get yelled at randomly for doing (or not doing) something that you should have. I like systems, even when I rail against them. (in fact I need a system there in order to rail against it.) I've also worked political campaigns, in political offices and done union work, so I get that there are power struggles and deep, long-running feuds or past history under the surface of things, that things get done off the record or through compromise, or that you might want to be careful what you say in a meeting before you know who stands where and who your allies are (or that you may need to have premeetings before the meetings to get your allies and coalitions organized into a unified bloc.)

But Guileless Colleague does not recognize this (perhaps because she graduated from a tiny elite SLAC where the rhetoric was all about family and she was largely protected from seeing infighting) and has stepped in it and out of it several times already, particularly on the "wait to see whose pet project it is before you trash it in a meeting" (or more accurately: we're temps. Don't ever trash something in a meeting.) She's so open and above-board, that she doesn't recognize something is told to her in confidence unless you explicitly warn her so, and even then she might make reference to the conversation you had and just not quote you directly.

So today I was talking with her about this and that (I hate this and wish this were different, can you figure out why they do X this way, what do your students react when you do this, etc.) and then I got an email tonight that she had mentioned most of what I said to the principal and then proceeded to relay what his responses were. Ugh. Not okay. I'm a "hands off" teacher, especially as a temp, and I try not to have much interaction with the bosses unless I have a specific problem I want their help or input on, or I need to cover my ass because I think something bad is coming down the pike. I don't want to bring random "here's how my day was" comments to him, and I especially don't want to bring any random bitching I was sharing with the rank-and-file to his attention. Correction: I especially don't want other people to relay my random bitching and chitchat to the bosses, no matter how openly it's done. Please consider anything I say in casual conversation, particularly anything the slightest bit negative, as off the record and not available to be passed on unless I specifically say so. I guess we're just such different personality types I'll have to watch it. But on the other hand to not realize that making negative comments about work around your boss might be bad is just weird. It's like admitting you're lazy or hate your job or snuck off work early to your boss when that's strictly water-cooler talk. Hmm.

Ok, now I must get some prep done. Anybody have some good ways to define and talk about irony?


gwoertendyke said...

hilarious and horrifying. no advice other than not to say anything that might reflect poorly on you to this person in the future. she is clearly unreachable and will have to learn the hard lessons of life on her own.

on another note, what is your job? principal? if you've written about this i missed it....

heu mihi said...

It's funny--a lot of my students do this. Like, they'll tell me how they didn't start their latest paper until about an hour before it was due, or complain about how such-and-such class (not mine) is so boring that they can't bring themselves to go very often. My response is always, "Don't tell me these things!" It's a profound lack of audience awareness, is my theory. And perhaps this is a wider-spread phenomenon than I (or you) thought.

André Dias said...

I'm sorry to say but your text freaked me out. I don't understand why would you expect that all conversations are naturally kept private, especially if you were discussing the work policy. Even if I'm not aware of the details, I totally sympathize with your colleague, who seems that she doesn't what to spend life afraid of what to say and think. It seems that she will, as a commenter here said, probably learn the hard way. So, you're in fact stating your impotence regarding these social machines and applauding when she, who's honest and sincere, will get punished. Your post is a recognition of how much fear is out there and how even people who do not have real problems sustaining themselves act as if they're at the verge of starvation. Now package it as "audience awareness" and everything will be fine!

medieval woman said...

Hee, hee, hee....mushroom rings of procrastination power....

So, your job market gnomes have turned on you, eh? They'll be unionizing next. Give them enough Klondike bars and they'll start working again!