My Time Breakdown:
- 8,000,000 hours a day: writing back to students who email me asking only one of two things:
* please can I override the school’s enrollment system because they waited too long to register for classes and now my class is full but they really need my class to graduate so can I please add them to the class along with all eight billion other students who desperately need my class to graduate for some reason
* if my class will be easy to get an A in. (They don’t say this outright but they write me unintentionally extremely rude emails demanding to know “what is the workload of the class” and “what will we be graded on” and “what do you mean by ‘papers,’ are they research papers or personal reflection essays” until I write back tersely telling them it is not my job to help them decide if my class will be an easy A or not, and I currently have over 400 students and I would really appreciate not getting eight trillion emails of this nature from random kids I am not directly in charge of (joke: I have never said this back to a student, don’t worry)
- 7,000,000 hours a day: dealing with the logistics of this one class I teach. Constantly editing documents, dealing with weird student issues, and having a non-stop barrage of meetings, meetings, meetings. The fact that this class is counted in my contract as a regular class is irritating to me. My other classes for example do not necessitate a full-time course administrator or a staff of eight people, nor do they involve having 3 hours of meetings a week (! true) with various people.
- 6,000,000 hours a day: grading
- 2 hours a day: classroom teaching
- 4 seconds a day: thinking about or doing anything even vaguely related to my own research, which accounts for 60% of whether or not I get tenure
- 1 second a day: eating
- .5 troubled and uncomfortable seconds a day: trying to sleep
JK JUST VENTING GUYS
I LOVE MY JOB
IT IS PART OF THE PROFESSOR’S JOB TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THEIR JOB
In other news the dog is stupid and we got two pizzas last night just for the heck of it. I fell asleep watching Caesar Must Die and I dreamed I got a job in Long Beach that I had forgotten I’d signed the contract for. Then walking skeletons (as differentiated from zombies) attacked and I helped a small family survive by leaping across balconies. The entire time I was still worried about what I should do about the Long Beach job. Then Katy told me “it’s not the Long Beach that’s in LA.” I said “Is it the Long Beach from the Beach Boys song?” and she said “No.”
Anyway today is my day off and like I said I am trying to read feminist marxist stuff about how capitalism requires the un-waged labor of women in order to continue functioning as a system and how we should all go on strike from social reproductive work (having babies) until that work is recognized as waged labor, which will never happen so instead our species should die out, which I agree with. And instead of reading that I am getting upset by my work email, which I should just close and not look at but that gives me the cold sweats to do. And then now instead of doing either thing I am writing here about how I am annoyed, which seems doubly counter-productive.
However, the $600 of books I used my startup funds to buy have started arriving and I am hoarding them and gloating over them like Smaug or Scrooge McDuck, rubbing my claws in the fitful candlelight and watching their covers gleam like rubies and jewels. I got a bunch of encyclopedias and sat on the floor reading them. Hegelian notion of history. Birth of political economy. Leigh Hunt. I also re-organized my bookshelves and stuck a plant on one of them, lets class this joint up for once. It is very cold and very bright outside, which I like, and maybe I will just evade all my work duties and walk downtown or something. Whenever I decide not to do work I am always at a loss. I can:
- cook dinner
- go to the Y
- play Zelda
Beyond those three things I rarely have an idea of something I could do. I was sitting here looking out the window wondering what people with regular jobs do on weekends. What do you people do on weekends? I really want to know. Is it all fun trips and projects, or do you read a novel all day, or what? Some people probably sleep a lot but that has never been my jam. I know I used to have normal weekends but I can’t remember what I did during them, plus back then I was much younger and some of the things I did I might no longer wish to do or be able to do. I don’t really have projects anymore. I don’t write music, I don’t write fiction, I don’t knit or anything.
Things I get excited about are:
- going grocery shopping
- watching a movie
- drinking a glass of wine
- going thrifting
here is a sorrow: there is no thrifting here! There is one DEEPLY shitty Goodwill and from what I can tell that’s it. Although I did find some serious cast-iron there one time, it is mostly wicker baskets and super creepy stained clothing. I need to perhaps do some research and find some weird rural army surplus store or something.
Cutting down on my internet usage is still in effect and still feels pretty good. No Facebook, and then I do twitter and instagram in short contained bursts. I do feel better in my mind; more focused, and like there is more time in the day. I could cut down more. We’ll see.
I had a meeting with a guy on campus who helps faculty apply for grants and fellowships. He gave me some basic beginning deadlines and goals. It is so great. An office on campus that gives you deadlines and then edits your shit, for free! I have a Thanksgiving deadline for two little summer stipends I’m applying for. He says we will work up to the big ones–NEH and ACLS. But even for those, he already gave me a lot to think about in terms of situating my project. I also liked his vibe, which was realistic but cheery. He basically said I’m not going to get an NEH grant, maybe ever, but certainly not the first time I apply, but that applying is still great because it helps you articulate your project and your goals, and the more you apply the better you get at this, plus you get feedback, and also no one looks down on you for applying again and again, and so I just need to get into that cycle, of constantly applying for grants I know I’m not going to get, and just accept it. He has a PhD in Buddhist Studies or something, which I feel makes him good at this facet of his job. I really really like this concept. Just accepting that success is not really a goal, or like, that there are other successes that are reasonable goals (getting better at talking about a project; learning how grant-writing works; getting feedback). His office was full of terrariums.
Like all humanities professors, I am just desperate for time off teaching and service so I can actually perform scholarship and contribute to my field. But because our neoliberal society doesn’t give a shit about arts or humanities except in rare cases when they can be heavily monetized, there is almost no money out there for this sort of thing. Contrasted with the sciences, which, IT IS A FUCKING JOKE. Like, a dude at my new faculty orientation who is in Biology said they don’t even teach their first year on the job; they just hire assistants and set up their lab and work on their projects. After that they teach like a 1/0 course load (I teach a 3/2, which is considered pretty reasonable in the humanities). When I told him I teach a 3/2 he couldn’t even understand what that meant. “But when do you have time to work on your research?” he kept asking. I was like, “I don’t know, like 1/3 of Christmas break?” I know a dude in some branch of the sciences who makes $300,000 a year and teaches one class a year. I know another science dude who couldn’t understand why I didn’t just “do a couple of postdocs” instead of immediately getting on the job market. HA HA HA. I don’t begrudge these people their insanely awesome lifestyles but I do think that this world we have created sucks. Things that biotech firms want to pay for are of value, and things they don’t want to pay for are stupid. If you’re in the humanities, increasingly you have to “prove” the “value” of what you study to people who can only think in the terms of the STEM fields, i.e., the marketplace (scientific discovery on its own terms is even increasingly pointless, when it can’t be directly related to improving some consumer product or inventing some new drug to make people pay an absurd amount for if they want to continue having boners or, you know, living). And anyway, that doesn’t work. Because humanistic work functions under a completely different and unrelated set of precepts, goals, values, and ideas of “usefulness.” So when the Dean says the music department has to demonstrate its value to the university in monetary terms, it’s like, well, we can’t do that, because the study of music under neoliberal capitalism is an absurd and pointless pursuit and all the bullshit “arts entrepreneurship” programs in the world aren’t going to demonstrate otherwise. So, ultimately, the music department gets closed, so only the profitable fields get taught at the university, which is now a profit-driven business, and that’s just the way it goes, no free lunch. And then we are a nation of people who literally don’t know how to think or articulate a thought, who know nothing about history, who have no concept of notions of value and worth that aren’t tied to a dollar amount. I consistently try and fail to comprehend how there are people who don’t find that prospect terrifying.
So, that is pretty rough, when you’re someone who thinks that the shit in the arts and humanities is basically what comprises “human culture” to begin with and it seems pretty bizarre to have to argue for the worth and value of that.
But that is life.
I told this grants dude “I actually got a ton of startup money” and he asked “how much” and I told him and he tried and failed to disguise the look that crossed his face. He said “I’m really sorry for laughing; I know that to you that seems like a lot of money and I respect that that is your reality.”
Anyway, it’s all just life and there is no use flailing wildly against it. All you can do is try your best and be the best person you can be, and try to do work that you think is meaningful, and try to get even one student to think differently about how they value the shit in their life. And focus on the good stuff and try to eat a pizza and have fun anyway because soon enough it’ll all be over. Also, be ready to join the revolution whenever it happens, of course.
how I long for the revolution
I feel like I missed my window on getting this marxist feminist theory read. I fucked up.
I am still in sweatpants. I am really blowing my Friday. I’m so bummed.
GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER