October 06, 2005

My country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange...

It's not that it's a Busy Sisters Pissing Contest (we'll be charging admission to that one), but I feel compelled to offer a counterpoint to my darling baby sister's edenic fantasy of the return to academia .

For the last three days, I've been sitting in various rooms on campus fantasizing about climbing out the window, getting into my car, driving up to the city, and trying to get (one of) my old job(s) back. Funny, because when I was out of school, I spent approximately 950 days sitting in various offices fantasizing about climbing out the window, setting fire to the building, and going back to school.

I will admit that it's a bit different from Dianna's impending undergrad situation in that, in grad school, there is effectively no difference between work and school (or between [work and school] and [the rest of my life]). Taking classes, teaching classes, it all involves being slumped over a book or grading papers. It's also different from my non-student life in that, whereas in my life as a working stiff I was paid more or less like a competent human but treated pretty much like a hopeless idiot, now I'm paid more or less like an Indonesian garment worker but treated like someone who's pretty darn smart in a very arcane and specific arena.

However, let's compare the old days:

Office jobs. We all know what that's like: like war, it's long periods of skull-crushing boredom punctuated by brief bursts of skull-crushing excitement. Sit at desk. Do fifty things at once. Gossip maliciously. Google all of your exes' exes. Stop work and go home. Occasionally stay late to finish the stuff you didn't get to because you were gossiping and googling.

...versus the work hole I have dug myself into now, two weeks into the fall quarter of my third year of grad school:

*Two theory-heavy seminars (that's a normal full course load).
*A "TAship" for a class which, suddenly, the other TA and I are fully teaching, three days a week (that's a full-time job).
*Working as a graduate student researcher/administrative functionary for a research cluster (in which capacity I have to go this afternoon and defend our use of their funding, which we have not actually done anything with yet).
*Running the reading group connected with that research cluster.
*Grad student liaison to the department.
*Member of the Graduate Program Committee.
*Trying to write my qualifying exam topics.
*Sitting on at least one mock qualifying exam this quarter.
*In my "free time," I'm on two planning committees for the AIDS Project, for the Halloween fundraiser we're doing, and for the World AIDS Day event.

By my recent tracking, this commits me to about 80 hours of work per week. If we say that I'm shooting for 8 hours of sleep a night (ha), that gives me 32 spare hours per week, or 4 hours and 34 minutes per day to eat, drive places, send emails into the void that is my advisor's inbox, complain, and fuck around online. Not to mention going out drinking and dancing and whatnot.

But I've found a way to bring some of the drinking and dancing under the umbrella of my volunteer work, and to incorporate the complaining into my school time, so that'll buy me some time there. It's all about multitasking.

The big difference is that, unlike in my previous incarnation or my sister's current incarnation as a seething wage slave, I like what I do now. A lot. Or else I just like work. Because otherwise I wouldn't do so much of it, right? Right?

*Warning: 14.2 minutes of rant time used. Low level light on.*

Posted by katie at October 6, 2005 01:07 PM

See, but, yes. If I'm going to be doing fifty things at once and tearing my hair out over them, which I acknowledge that I will, I damn well want it to be related to the stuff I'm doing out of interest rather than the stuff I'm doing out of financial necessity. Tearing hair out over excavated ruins is better than tearing hair out over submittal logs.

Speaking of skull-crushing excitement, it's Navy Fleet Week. Noon to 4 pm today is exhibition flying by the Blue Angels fighter pilots. How did I find out? Because I spent my lunch hour thinking I was about to die. Can I come back to Santa Cruz where it's quiet?

Posted by: Dianna at October 6, 2005 03:42 PM

fleet week!

Posted by: michele at October 6, 2005 03:53 PM

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. But it sounds like seven days of enemas.

Posted by: Dianna at October 6, 2005 04:04 PM


Posted by: michele at October 6, 2005 04:15 PM

You know, fleet? Uh. Never mind.

Posted by: Dianna at October 6, 2005 04:32 PM

I do really enjoy that since this was posted after mine, the titles show up in the proper order on the Cementhorizon front page.

Posted by: Dianna at October 6, 2005 05:01 PM

I'm just going to go ahead and claim that I planned it that way with the entry titles. Even if I didn't.

Dude, yes. It is different when the fifty things you have to do are related to your areas of interest and competence. But it also makes it easier to be more of a sucker by saying "yes" to fucking everything, because it sounds interesting/cool. Whereas I like to hold onto a soft-focused, rosy picture of the past when I had a job where I could walk out the door halfway through stuffing client proposal binders, and not even remotely care. Although I suspect that in reality, I couldn't, and I did.

Come back to Santa Cruz, where the buses are still on strike and so the only transportation noise is that of grumbling people walking!

Posted by: katie at October 8, 2005 03:10 PM

Wait, I have to add to Michele's "mur?". Fleet? I don't get it at all.

Posted by: katie at October 8, 2005 03:11 PM

Perhaps you have a less comprehensive, or more discreet, variety of drugstore where you live. No matter. Do not pursue. Around here this conversation can only get worse.

Posted by: your darling baby sister at October 8, 2005 11:12 PM