Summer update

(I was away so long this time that I forgot my password…)

Yes, it’s that time of year to feel bad about not getting enough accomplished as time inexorably rushes towards the start of another academic year. This time, I really haven’t accomplished much over the summer. I’ve managed to help out a colleague on a project for which I’ll get no credit (not his fault; he probably won’t get much credit either). It may provide some nice student opportunities, if anyone cares.

I’m getting closer and closer to having to make a 100% break with the one research group with whom I have some tenuous link. I’m totally out of the loop with what is being done in the group and I’m getting nothing out of it. One of my jobs is to maintain part of a database of relevant existing data, but at least one other person is keeping their own list of values, including ones from a group whose methods I don’t trust [facepalm].

I have an idea for an unrelated research project of my own, but I think it’s interesting, so there’s little chance of getting funding, none of the undergraduates will be interested, and it will be hard to get a paper out of it. Other than that, it will be great. I’m toying with the idea of doing all the work at home (I’ll probably have to pay the page charges out of pocket again if I do manage to write a paper), but I’ll probably need access to a couple of journals through my institution. I’ve had this dream of taking my institution’s practices to the logical extreme and get a paper published without having my affiliation on it.

I do have an unusually favorable schedule this Fall, just three classes, all MWF. However, despite two major service/administrative obligations, I’m only on one institutional committee, so I’m worried that I’ll be expected to take up the “slack” in my schedule. If I can escape that, I might be able to do some research during the semester!!

My main concern with regards to all of this research stuff is that I still plan to apply for other jobs during the upcoming season, but I’m not really applying from a position of strength. I’ve been designing classes for a new degree program, but that doesn’t really count for anything. I’m a lot more interested in providing interesting research projects for students than trying to get another grant. I’ve found (and observed) that the stuff undergrads do that is connected with a grant tends to be of lower experiential quality than if they are allowed to take ownership of their project. Too many PUIs seem to favor the former rather than the latter, even though the odds are ridiculously stacked against getting and maintaining a significant funded research program at such an institution.

I feel bad that I’m so indifferent to my job that I can’t seem to bring myself to do enough work. In addition to the already mentioned, I have been working a bit on the reorganization of a course that I’m teaching for the first time with a new set of prereqs. But, the limited amount of work has been hard won.

Socially, it’s typical summer conditions. I.e., some entire weeks without having a conversation with anybody. Let’s see, in the last two weeks I’ve actually had “real” conversations with three different people! Mother, a work colleague, and my hair stylist. (I may be a total fucking loser, but I have great hair.) I’ve been communicating way too much with a car dealer about some warranty repairs, but not really any real conversation. In my defense, it was hard to have a conversation with the dealer’s shuttle driver the day they had my car all day – he fell asleep! I had to grab the wheel to keep us from plowing into (and maybe over) the median. Strangely, I didn’t get any sort of adrenaline rush from that.

I’ve stopped going to my therapist because what I really need is some way of accepting my shitty career and shitty life. I’m just burnt out after a hard-fought unsuccessful attempt to improve either of those the last three years. How do you accept that the first 40+ years of your life have pretty much been a waste? How do you carry on from that? I doubt anyone has those answers. If my car actually truly gets fixed, I hope a road trip before the semester begins will restore at least a semblance of equanimity.

I’ve been on a Simple Minds retro kick lately, so here’s this, although I can’t quite relate to the title right now:

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2 thoughts on “Summer update

  1. How do you accept that the first 40+ years of your life have pretty much been a waste?

    Dude — they haven’t. You are a youngish professor with great hair! We all know that the one true measure of success in professorial life is getting a hot pepper in your Rate My Prof evaluation.

    At the risk as sounding like Captain Obvious or just a random annoying person on the internet, I think you would be considerably more chipper if you weren’t so isolated. (I can hear your exasperated “Duh!”) How’s the dating situation? Online dating? I have no idea where you are geographically, but there should be some single women in a 100 mile radius (I seem to recall you being straight, but I apologize if I am wrong).

    On an unrelated note, I don’t know if Alex who often comments on my blog has been over to say ‘hi’, I will nudge him to do so. He’s at a small PUI state school and faces many of the same job challenges as you, plus he’s delightfully sarcastic which is always a bonus in humans. You two should be fast friends.

    Lastly, academic Twitter? I don’t tweet (can’t even curb my old-fashioned Internet abuse) but it looks like a lot of isolated academic congregate to commiserate and shoot some $hit in Twitterverse.

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