Monday, November 15, 2010

Flight Plans

I’m afraid of my job. 

That sounds weird because it is weird.  I view my job as a rapacious bloodthirsty monster that wants nothing more than to tear my flesh off, grind my bones, and swallow me whole. 
Don’t get me wrong – I love my university, my department, and my students.  In short, I love my job.  But the demands are crushing.  Faculty are expected to teach, engage in research, publish, speak at conferences, apply for grants, participate in community outreach, chair numerous committees, and …. wait for it ….. become national experts in our fields.  Obviously, it’s a lot of work and the people who are really successful do little else.  That terrifies me. 
Call it a fear of commitment. 
And yet, I don’t want to do anything else.    
See, I know all of these things - about the monster and about me - even as I wade even deeper into the academic briar patch by getting my doctorate with the aim that I will teach until I retire.  With a husband who wants to (and deserves to) retire in about 5 years, I can expect to grind it out another 12 years at minimum.  So, you see, the calls are coming from inside the house! 
As a result (because I don’t have a therapist) I spend far too much mental horsepower these days thinking of escape clauses.  Here’s a few:
Quick Getaways
  • work over the weekend occasionally and take off on a Tuesday/Wednesday to a nearby camping spot.  I like this plan because the weekends are a great time to work if you require a good deal of quiet as I do.  Another upside: campgrounds, hiking trails etc … should be pretty much deserted in the middle of the week after Labor Day.    
  •  more distance teaching.  We are doing that more and more anyway.  In fact, there is a new phenomenon in higher education known as “green professors”.  Maybe soon we will all be working in our bunny slippers in the shadow of Mt. Shasta.    
Longer Trips
  •  attend more conferences in scenic locations.  Surely, I can disseminate my research findings where the buffalo roam?     
  • save up the annual leave and take off for a month.  Perhaps combine this option with the one above.  (This is probably the option most steeped in magical thinking). 
Am I fooling myself that I can tame the monster?  Perhaps make it more of a gentle furry pet who needs me more than I need it?
Office Space

I honestly don't know.  But I'm determined to try. 


  1. Please don't wear yourself out before retirement or your RV break! How long do you anticipate your RV break will be? What if you decide you like RVing better than academia?


  2. My anticipated graduation date (and RV purchase date) is December 2011. I hope to evade the monster for at least a month-long celebration journey.

    And yes, what if I like RVing better than academia??? Good question - and yet another scary element to this whole process.

  3. Kimbopolo: Thanks for your comment on my blog about my yard art. I'm really enjoying it. Isn't it interesting that we keep finding connections. Did you hang onto the Hummels? It must have been really tough losing your folks so close together. I had a year between mine.


  4. No, the Hummels are gone along with everything else in a massive estate sale.

    My parents were in Germany circa 1954 - 1956. Rhein Mein AFB. Shreveport before that. Then Charleston, San Angelo, Minot. How about you?

  5. Hi, I'm enjoying getting to know you, through your blog of cours. I feel your pain although, my job has become less a monster to me--lots of therapy! : )


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