What I really want to do is direct

It’s overcast and cold today and I’m feeling melancholy. This, in addition to reminding me why I shudder each time Spouse recommends Portland, Oregon as a solution to his job woes and our financial woes, makes this MLA panel piece by Brian Croxall on the dismal prospects for academics in my field lately even more poignant.

(The punchline, if you don’t feel like reading it? Full time professors these days qualify for food stamps, and jobs for both Tweedy Tenure Track and its neglected stepchild Oliver Adjunct are beyond pathetic, hurting students, graduates, and Universities in a rather horrifying spiral. A rather nasty, brutish, and short career view paper read at an MLA panel that complements today’s intensely depressing Fresh Air interview of Woody Allen. Come on, people. The decade was bad enough without this layer of realism and honesty. It’s like living in a William Dean Howells novel today.)

It’s no fun to be depressed without some data to back you up. So here you go, courtesy of a Tweet by my recent conference panelmate Matt Bucher. Thanks, man. Contagious academic depression is almost enjoyable as an academic dissection of a funeral. Cheers!

Pssst. Academic…

You know it’s a bad sign when I take the time to print and annotate your journal article, covering it with “NO!” and “critical thinking?” and “WRONG” all over the margins; and then when a page falls out of the stack and I’m looking for scrap paper, that I’m willing to make a grocery list on the back of your alleged scholarship.

Journal and publisher jitters

I really need to send off this article so I can clear it out of my head and either begin another or finish my book. But as always, I’m much more confident in the process than in the result. I’ll spend weeks, unless I stop myself, editing and proofreading and editing and proofreading and editing and proof…(getting boring for you, too?)

Why is it I am willing to do 99% of the work, really throwing myself into something and doing my best, but when it comes to asking for approval and money, I stop short, more willing to keep a backlog of solid work than finishing by asking for recognition/publication?

That’s not ironic, Alanis. But it’s kind of funny, in a gallows humor kind of way.

When the English professor who torpedoed my doctoral-program applications seven years ago walked into my gym this morning, I had two simultaneous thoughts, and neither was based in vengeful hatred, as they well should have been.

One: any other time I would launch off this erg and choke you for costing me a chance at an academic career when I was still considered of viable PhD program age, but your gross incompetence and callous disregard for your promises allowed me to find a couple of great professors at a college I never would have considered and gave me the window during which to have my son. So fuck you, but I can’t even spare a “fuck you” for you.

Two: I’ve always pictured you, in my pathetic, depressive, post-academic-door-slammed-shut slump, as a bilious monster. You’re actually quite pathetic in your fisherman’s sweater and nylon track pants, there on the treadmill in broad daylight when you could be out walking the world and observing how real humans live.

And for the record, I am right now reading something that, in addition to being far superior to anything you published back in your productive days, has inspired me to return to academia, allowing me to forget for a moment how traitorously you abandoned me one day before your letter of recommendation was due. Did I mention fuck you? And I’m better than you? And you’re pathetic? And I’m not a big enough person to forgive you, but I am big enough to keep working out right next to you, complete lack of recognition on your face, knowing that I’ve lost almost seven years of my dream because of you. I don’t really care about you anymore. I don’t have time.

But the funniest part of seeing you? When the ladies from the early morning dance class tittered that you should join them and you said, “I would love to, but I just don’t play well with others,” I actually bit my tongue to keep from agreeing aloud. At least you’re self aware. Remind me again why that assuages my wounded pride and remedies my incomplete education?

Oh, yeah. ‘Cuz I have a cute kid. Okay. Hope that gets me through the day. And the next day. And every day for about six years until I take your job and laugh at your shriveled hull.

See ya then, treadmill boy.

Get off thy ass and get to work

You know, I could continue to waste naptime blogging, reading other people’s blogs, and unpacking the eight-freaking-thousand boxes walling me into this new place. But I blog schlock read by an average of 50 people a day; I read awesome blogs that make me regret not doing more academic work, not writing, and not getting my life in perspective; and unpacking boxes just makes me mad that we have so much crap (for the normal triumvirate of wasteful capitalism, depleted savings, and un-zen clutter).

So I’m off to work on one paragraph of a novel, and to find the list of academic articles that showed enough promise to warrant someone to scrawl “work on this and have it published” in the margins.

See you when I have something decent to show for my life.

[are you f@ck*ng kidding me? I was spellchecking and The Tiny Tyrant awoke. So all I have to show for today’s naptime is a clean sink and a resolution to do something productive tomorrow. Godd@mn it.]