Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Eulogy for my Summer of Bliss

When I started this summer, I had all sorts of glorious plans. No, I wasn't running away to Cinque Terre (though I wish right now that I had). For the last few years I have been pushing hard - working like a machine to get papers out the door, build my lab, and write grants. The fruits of that labor have been more or less paying off this past year - the papers are coming out and my students are making great progress. The grant thing has been a little stymied by the 8% fund rates that have haunted my panel, but putting the proposals together has helped me cook up some cool science ideas, so not a complete waste. In addition to things rolling along, I come up for tenure this fall. I have been told that once my packet is submitted  in Sept, nothing published after that date "counts", so I figured this summer was a good time to shift gears; there was no way anything I started now would be out in time anway. So, I planned on picking up and babying a languishing pet project but otherwise I would devote myself to a bunch of reading and thinking and strategic planning about my research path for the next 5 years; oh and clean my office as a physical symbol of my fresh start. My mental image of my summer was something like this:


Instead it has turned out to be more like this:


One by one my summer plans have vaporized (Perhaps I'll blog more about that later) and I have been feeling more and more down about it.  A couple of days ago, General Disarray came into my office, looked around, and said "Your office looks like a  college dorm room". When I nearly burst into tears, I realized that it had nothing to do with his criticism of my office, which does frankly look like this:


My despair had everything to do with the fact that my office had come to symbolize the dead and decaying body of my blissful summer of joy and self-investment. 

To quote one of my favorite bloggers: Dude, Fuck, Sigh.


yolio said...

Ah. Here have an internet {{hug}}. The best laid plans...man.

My month has been thrown off by a sports injury: sprained hip muscle, aka groin pull. On the one hand, I am really pissed because I am in pain and it is making logistics impossible. On the other hand, I am sort of perversely proud. I have never had a sports injury before of an kind. I feel kind of bad ass.

Nat Blair said...

Sorry to hear about the negative energy plane you're stuck in at the moment.

Although you might not get to do what you previously wanted, might there still be a chance to salvage something? Since no plan survives contact with academic science, I guess it's time to alter the plan.

Yeah, that's easy advice for me to give, but hard for me to follow myself. I tend to rail away at the situation while still following my original plan. Then I get in a funk. Then I find something, anything, I can accomplish and that starts me feeling better about things.

Hang in there! And if you do choose to blog about some of the now disintegrated plans, we're hear to listen (yuck yuck yuck yuck).

Rosie Redfield said...

Take the time to clean your office. Now. You will feel so much more in control. Nothing compares to the peace of mind this brings. I think we underestimate the stress that arises when everywhere we look reminds us of all the things we haven't dealt with.

Throw lots of stuff out. If you can't bear to throw something out, put it in a folder/box neatly labeled "Stuff from my office June 2009", just in case you need it later.

There's a little book called Taming the Paper Tiger, from which I got some great mantras:
--If I'm not going to remember that I have it, I should throw it out now.
--If I'm not going to be able to remember where I put it, I should throw it out now.
--If nothing terrible will happen if I don't save it, I should throw it out now.

And get yourself an enormous paper-recycling basket. I use mine as interim storage, just in case I later change my mind about throwing something out. But I very rarely have to dig through it.

Space Prof said...

I agree. Clean your office. Now. Every 4 months I blow half a day and sort the mounds on my desk until I see wood again (pretty much the start/end of each term). Whether or not it actually makes me more in control of my life, the placebo effect is worth it.

Prof-like Substance said...

Thanks for the shout out! I'm gonna agree with the others who said to organize your office. By organize, I mean slash and burn through the majority and keep what's standing after the blood shed. Following that, set some deadlines. If I leave myself to wander aimlessly without deadlines, I find that I spend more time doing other people's shit than my own. Grant reviews? why not? Committee reports? Sure, I'm not doing anything else. ETC. It's easy because it's not the elephant in the room and as long as you keep strategically placing house plants around the peanut-eating bastard, you're screwed. Learn to say NO to just about everything that doesn't help your cause over the summer and worry about the consequences later.
p.s. Email me at some point. I have a couple of off-blog questions for you.

tideliar said...

e-hug I'm sorry. a funny post though. Good Luck with everything.../e-hug