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Archive for March, 2009

Fatigue Is a Sneaky Bastard

Ordinarily, when I am under a lot of stress, I suffer even more from insomnia than I usually do.  Lately, though, I have been falling asleep almost as soon as I go to bed around 9:30 or 10.  I do wake up very early, but that is at least partly Muttboy’s fault, who seems to think I somehow need to be awakened at 5:15.  I apparently do not need to get up then, because he goes back to sleep, but he does feel the need to let me know he’s there, it’s morning, and at some point in the next hour or so I should think about getting up.

With all of the stress of the March Massacre, the ensuing bloody battles among senior faculty (which I am mercifully spared, since I am not (yet(knock wood)) senior faculty), and the usual anxieties about grading and the start of the racing season, I have been feeling fairly energetic.  I surprised myself with my relatively healthy response to the stress–see what I said above about sleeping, for example.  The slings and arrows of working in a madhouse coupled with the whips and scorns of an imploding economic system have left me feeling, on the surface at least, if not tranquil, then tranquil-esque.  Tranquil-onic.

Thus I was surprised the other day when it hit me that I am really, truly, utterly exhausted by everything.  I was reading a student paper, or trying to, and when I arrived at the end of the paper, I could not tell what it was about.  If you had held a gun to my head and asked me what the student said, you would have had no choice but to pull the trigger.  For the past two mornings I have skipped bike rides, and I blithely used the cold weather as an excuse.  Cold weather?  I have gone for rides in much colder weather than this!  But I caved in and stayed in my warm house, next to my warm dog.  Where I proceded to stare, slack-jawed, at the computer like some mindless, drooling idiot.  I watched the video of Bizkit the sleepwalking dog at least five times, and I almost clicked on that Britney Spears video up on the Onion AV Club site.  Almost, I said–I haven’t lost all dignity, by god!

So I have come to the not startling conclusion that I am fatigued.  I know that once the tenure decision comes down, I will feel better, but for the moment, all of my psychic energy is spent.

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March Massacre

I’m not sure how much detail I want to reveal here, but I’ll try to tell my story without compromising anyone’s privacy.  The economic hard times have hit my university fairly hard, though probably not as hard as some other institutions.  We have a small endowment that lost something like 25% in the last year, but we are still afloat financially.

The reality hit my department this week, though, with four positions getting cut.  Three of the positions were term contract, but one of the was a tenure-track position.  That’s right: we lost a TT position.

Everyone in the department is wandering around in a sort of a daze.  Some of the afflicted are depressed, some are angry as hell, and some seem to be doing their best to show nothing and act as if everything is normal.

Luckily for me, I still have a job.  I received my renewal letter last week, so I know I am gainfully employed for at least another year.  If I get the good news in a couple of weeks when the tenure decisions are announced, I’ll be relatively safe, or at least as safe as anyone is these days.  If I get bad news from the tenure gods, at least I have a job until 2010.  I also received a sort of promotion, where I’ve been placed in charge of one of our major programs; one of my responsibilities will be to manage our large pool of adjuncts.

Among the many bad effects of this news is the spread of paranoia.  One of my less sane colleagues–oh, what the hell; she’s totally drooling batshit crazy– is convinced that the employment bloodbath and my promotion is all some elaborate plot against her because of some things she has done or said.  She even went so far as to urge me not to take the promotion because it would mean I was getting in bed with the devil.  I just nodded noncommitally, the way you do when the crazy people in the subway start telling you about how Stephen King and Richard Nixon plotted to kill John Lennon.

Interesting times.

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