To the casual observer, academia looks like the sweetest gig. I mean, we get summers off, we don’t have to punch a clock from 8-6 each day, we get to do what we want most of the time, and plus, we get paid for living the life of the mind.
All of these things are true. And amazing. But, the down side is that academia is brutally demanding. As a professory you are a writer, a researcher, a counselor, an administrator, an office clerk, and an actor in a one-man show, that you wrote, directed, produced, and stage managed that performs 3-4 times a day.
In view of how completely strung out I am as I am sitting here today in the office trying to write a lecture for tomorrow, I’ve decided to post a log of my activities in past week. With a few exceptions, this is pretty much a typical week in the life of a commuting first-year professor during a 3-course load semester.
8:00 a.m. Woke Up. Showered, had breakfast, packed up my books and files.
10:00 a.m. Drove to colleague’s house, picked up colleague
11:00 a.m. Arrived on campus.
11:00-6:00 p.m. : 1. Wrote lecture#1 = 15 pages. 2. Developed PowerPoint presentation to accompany lecture #1, 14 slides, 3. Graded 5 papers, 4. Read 50 pages.
6:00 p.m.: Dinner with colleagues and job candidate
8:30 p.m.: Drove colleague home, returned to hometown.
10:00 p.m. arrived home. Continued writing lecture.
1:30 a.m. Went to sleep
6:20 a.m.: Woke up
7:30 a.m.: Left for Campus
8:30 a.m.: Arrived on campus, met with students, served tea and hot chocolate, before they left to meet with candidate.
9:00 -11:15 a.m.: Finished writing lecture#1 , rehearsed Lecture #2 (previously written), graded 5 more papers.
11:15 – 1:15p.m.: Gave 2 lectures, answered questions, soothed concerns.
1:15-2:00p.m.: Ate lunch at desk while organizing class material for next time.
2:00-4:15 p.m.: Prepped for class on Wednesday = 1. Reading 100 pages, 2. Graded 1 paper, 3. Made 2 3 page handouts, 4. Held office hours, 5. Sent 6 email replies to students with questions
4:30 – 6:00 p.m.: Went to Candidate Job Talk.
6:00 -8:30 p.m.: Ate dinner with colleagues and candidate
8:30 -9:30 p.m.: Drove Home
9:30 p.m. -10:00 p.m.: Saw Spousal Unit.
10:00 p.m.: Fell asleep
7:30-8:30 a.m.: Showered, dressed, got ready for work. Packed up books and papers and lecture.
9:30 a.m.: arrived on campus.
9:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m.: 1. Wrote lecture #3, 2. Read 200 pages, 3. Planned discussion on said pages, including 1 intensive document activity, 4. Consulted constantly with colleagues about job candidate, 5. Graded 5 papers, 6. Talked to high school teacher on phone with questions, 7. Emailed student questions, 8. Posted documents to course website.
7:30 p.m.: Drove home.
8:30 p.m.: Grocery Shopped – out of milk, eggs, vegetables.
9:00 p.m.: Ate dinner.
10:00 p.m.- 12:00 a.m: Resumed writing lecture # 3, with PowerPoint accompanyment – 15 slides + images
12:00 a.m.: Fell asleep.
5:30 a.m.: Alarm Rings
6:00 a.m.-7:30 a.m.: Graded 25 short papers.
7:30 -8:30 a.m.: Got ready, packed up papers and lecture #3
9:30 a.m.: Arrived on campus
9:30 -10:30 a,m: Graded 15 short papers
10:30-11:15a.m.: Finished lecture #3, wrote 2 assignments, 1 handout, xeroxed.
11:15-1:15 p.m.: Led discussion, gave a lecture, handed back 45 papers. Met with students after class, answered questions.
1:15-3:00 p.m.: Read 100 pages for next class, prepped discussion, wrote reading guide handout, xeroxed. Oh, and ate lunch.
3:00 – 4:30 pm.: Taught class
4:30 -5:00 p.m.: Met with student about possible lecture in Fraternity.
5:00 -7:30 p.m.: Organized class material, organized next set of tasks for Friday’s classes.
7:30 -8:30 p.m.: Drove home
8:30 p.m.: Dinner with Spousal Unit
10:00 p.m. Bed
8:00 a.m.: Wake up. Utterly exhausted. Fell back asleep.
10:00 a.m.: Decide not to go to gym
11:00 a.m. Move to couch, start reading for Friday’s class.
12:00 – 6:00 p.m.: 1. Read 300 pages, 2. prepared 3 discussions. 3. Wrote 2 handouts.
6:00 -7:00 p.m.: Cooked dinner for Spousal Unit
6:15 p.m.: Phone call from student with question about assignment.
7:00 p.m.: Dinner with Spousal Unit
6-10 p.m.: First downtime of the week. Rest, watch Veronica Mars on DVD.
6:30 a.m.: Wake up.
7:30 a.m.: Leave for campus
8:30 a.m.: Arrived on campus
8:30 -11:15a.m.: Emailed, prepped for discussion.
11:15-1:15 p.m.: Led discussion, met with students after class, answered questions.
1:15-3:00 p.m.: Read 100 pages for next class, prepped discussion, ate lunch at desk.
3:00 – 4:30 pm.: Taught class
5:30 -6:30 p.m.: Drove home
6:30 p.m.: Dinner with Spousal Unit & Friends out.
10:00 p.m. Bed
See yesterday’s post
7:00 a.m.: Woke up.
9:00 a.m.: Left house. Got gas, dropped Spousal Unit off at Big Science Thingey, got breakfast to eat in the car.
9:30 a.m.: Left for campus
10:30 a.m.: Arrived on Campus
10:30 -4:00 p.m.: Organized all handouts for 1 class for next week. Reviewed next week’s lecture #1, started planning lecture #2.
And so, here we are…
All told, last week I read roughly 300-some pages (not all that much, really), prepared 3 lectures = writing 45 pages, plus about 45 slides, graded 50 something papers, prepared numerous discussions, at least 5 handouts/assignments (10 pages). I spent 6 days of the week in my office, most days past 7 p.m. Add to all this the fact that I drove for 12 hours driving time, clocking a grand total of 720 miles.
I’m exhausted. And I can’t seem to get caught up. I’m not communicating with my friends, I’m dropping the ball with my family — both of groups of whom have indicated to me in one way or another over the past few months that I am neglecting them at unacceptable levels. I’m defintely neglecting my marriage at unacceptable levels. I see more of the student who is taking 2 of my classes than I do my husband. My car smells like burning nastiness – which the mechanic has looked at 3 times and can’t find anything wrong, my plants are all dying, there’s orange mold growing on my bathroom sink, the only meal I ate at a real table was the one we had out last night, I’ve found my first (and fourth, and eighth, and tenth) gray hair, and I’m wearing yesterdays underwear. (Sorry, got stuck in that little rant and couldn’t seem to get out.)
I know I’m getting some down time, (Thursday & yesterday) but it’s not enough. It’s just not enough. I don’t want to complain, because I know so many people who work so hard at what they do (and do it with more repsonsibilities than I have), but I don’t know how to do this and still maintain 1. my relationships, 2. my sanity, and 3. my job.
So, right now I’m going to take a deep breath, return to writing lecture #3, try to drive home without hitting any wildlife (last week it was a near miss with a squirrell), and hope that loved ones will hang in there with me until that someday arrives when I get caught up, can breathe again, and only have a little bitty dissertation to write.
(Spell-check is down, sorry. I also don’t have time to manually spellcheck my blog posts. Woe is me. 🙂 )