Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chronically underslept but highly recommended

The title says it all.  I've been operating on less sleep than I (apparently) need all week, even though I haven't been burning midnight oil.  The last two weeks, really, have been draining for me.  The benefit is that I feel like I've been productive, especially in regard to this year's job hunt.  I recently completed a soup-to-nuts revamp of all of my key job application materials, a process that took something like six weeks in total.  Now that my portfolio is thoroughly refurbished – and ooh, look, my writing sample is now a press-formatted book chapter! – I can throw myself into the irritating but necessary task of tailoring job letters for the relatively small crop of jobs so far that I could fit.

In combination with that, I successfully recruited three shiny new referees to write letters for me: one of my colleagues at CBU and two colleagues in my field who teach at universities I've never attended or worked at.  I feel an odd sense of satisfaction when I look at my list of references and see no mention of Dear Old University.  It makes me feel a little more like an academic grown-up to see that three people with no skin in the game are willing to write on my behalf, and even more so that two of them are highly respected pseudologists of Damn Lies in Research Country who teach at fancy-ass R1 institutions.  (Of course, I still have two referees from DOU up my sleeve as well, just in case some jumped-up school demands four or five references.) 

Of course, when you're working that hard on something, something else has to give a little.  I've been so discombobulated about my schedule this past week that I somehow convinced myself at frequent intervals that it was a day later than it really was.  My cooking schedule that allows me to make myself dinner and bring the leftovers for lunch the next day got totally fucked up, and I had to subsist on pistachios and some old doughnuts for lunch on Thursday.  Worse, I forgot to set my alarm for Wednesday morning, and it's only by sheer luck that I woke up soon enough that I could get myself to work mere minutes before I had to walk into class.  And on Thursday, because of the aforementioned crappy lunch, I compensated by drinking too much coffee: I was pretty tweaked out during my afternoon class, and after I came back to my office from that, a colleague remarked that I looked strangely wide-eyed.  Fortunately, zi knows me well, rather than suspect that I had a drug habit.

The cherry on top was that, much as Academic Cog has been dealing with lately, I cannot keep straight what the hell I teach from one day to the next in my double helping of Intro to Pseudology.  These different time banks are hell on wheels to manage, although I admit that it's a pretty speedy education in pedagogy: since one class runs half an hour longer than the other, I not only have to teach different materials at times but must also cook up different ways of engaging the material.  My brilliant achievement in fucking up my shit this week was – hi, Academic Cog!! – forgetting to check my syllabus and assuming I knew what I had said.  Consequently, we spent ninety minutes discussing a piece that I meant to discuss for perhaps thirty, because I forgot that I was supposed to show a film in class. 

The truly amazing part of this to me is that not a single one of my students even mentioned this.  Not in class, not in an email, nothing.  I'm relieved about that, too, because I would have looked like a goddamn fool in front of them.  I came perilously close, even so: when I showed the film (on schedule) to my other class, the stupid worn-out VHS tape (!) died on me, and I had to discard everything I was going to ask them about it on the test.  The silver lining to this problem was that I then got to email the first class and explain that I opted (ha!) to concentrate on our reading last time, but now the film that I "planned" to show them next week was ruined, and we would have to move on to other topics.

And yes, before you say it: I am painfully aware that the moral of this story is, "Read the fucking syllabus, Professor!"


  1. I pretty much have to do a daily syllabus check in order to stay an inch ahead of the students. It's even more brutal when you teach a 4/4. :)

    Glad to hear that your job search is progressing! Let's talk about all that soon.

  2. Sigh. I so know this feeling! And I haven't been sleeping all this week when I am getting to bed, so I certainly have that exhausted/strung out look --- so much so that colleagues have commented on it.

    May you get as many naps this weekend as I do!

  3. I think the title of this post deserves to be a blurb on your book. Or your business cards.

  4. I wrote out my plan for this morning's 8:30AM lecture on a post-it note, and stuck it to the textbook. And then forgot to put the textbook in my purse when I left the house. And then rolled into class at 8:31.

    That's awesome that your recs are all coming from elsewhere. Good luck this round--I hope that more jobs that fit you start turning up...