Thursday, April 13, 2006

playing bloggy hooky...

...and I have no good reason for it! Except that I've had the worst stress headaches for the past couple of days - some people get migranes (fortunately I don't) but I lock up my jaw and every muscle in my neck until I'm in agony. This happens sometimes when I sleep and throughout the day. I've tried yoga (which works during the class), acupuncture (which works great after a few sessions, but my insurace doesn't cover it!), and finally Aleve and a couple of beers...which sort of works. I'm not under any more stress than usual, but you'd think that I had the weight of the world on my shoulders (literally) - I physically manifest the stress of an air-traffic controller safely landing DC-10s filled with nuns and newborns all day long!

I might not have stress compared to, say, heart surgeons, but it's my own little medieval stressball and I have to deal with it. One question I have for anyone who's chiming in is - does everyone have trouble balancing work and teaching their first year of a full-time job? This is my first year teaching a 2-2 load (not even as hectic as a 3-3 or a 4-4!, but I've never done it before) and I'm not getting ANY of my own work done! I feel like all my time goes into planning 2 classes a semester that I've never taught before - it's not that all of the material is totally new to me, but most of it is new to me as teacher. I guess I'm just wondering if others had or are having trouble balancing teaching and work when they just emerge from grad school? I know it's something that I'll have to work out over time and it'll get easier once Chaucer and HEL are not completely new courses to me over the next couple of years! I just feel like I'd love to do some of my own work on my book project, but when I really start to get into thinking about it, reading around, doing a little research - I have to stop and read up on the Great Vowel Shift or semantics or something! After that I'm drained...

At any rate, just thought I'd commiserate! I'm going to take a short SW Airlines flight to visit a friend this weekend for a much needed break-from-this-place-and-the-Dutchman - I'm hoping I'll come back recharged!

Hope the blogosphere is well!!


At 1:15 PM, Blogger La Lecturess said...

Sorry to hear about your ailments! I had terrible back trouble my first two years in grad school, all of which seemed to be psychosomatic, but none of which was fun. Luckily I had a laptop, because I wound up needing to do almost all my work lying down for a period of a couple of months.

As for the work/teaching balancing act: tell me about it. I'm in the same boat, so I can't offer you the perspective of what happens once we're beyond these first couple of years, but the only work I've gotten done all year is: a) final revisions to my dissertation before submitting, b) Huge-mongous conference paper, c) small conference paper, d) way overdue (but short) article. Note that all of these things had deadlines, so they had, had, had to get done, but even so, getting them done was crazy-making and a real sacrifice. Those other projects that I swore I'd get a jump on? Even those scholarly books I wanted to read? Not done; not started on.

Part of my excuse is that I WAS after all on the job market, and that took up time--but honestly, if I hadn't been on the market, that time would have been eaten up either by teaching prep or by vegging out.

I'm coming to believe that the only way to get work done during the academic year really is to set aside a sacred day, or sacred hours during a couple of days. Fitting it in around the edges? So not working for this woman.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Dr. Virago said...

What Lecturess said.

My first year I didn't really get anything research related done other than conference papers. I didn't start revising my book until the first summer and I worked pretty diligently that summer. In the last two year's it's been a little better, but only marginally so in the second. But this year, I have more or less stuck to a schedule and found it's the only way to get research work done. I teach 3 classes on T-Th, so M-W is pretty full of teaching prep, but I still make the first two hours research-related. (Someone suggested on my blog once that you leave a note to yourself or a sentence or whatever the night before telling yourself where to start in the morning, so you can jump right in.)

Then Fridays are all research. But I've found that I'm actually a little more productive-per-minute during those two hours on M-W. If I could fit in the time on T-Th, but I usually need the morning for handout making and that sort of thing, and then I'm teaching for all of the afternoon.

But I manage to get some things done now, even when classes are new to me. I think it's about setting that schedule and sticking to it.

Of course, I still get much more done in the summer.

At 9:19 PM, Blogger medieval woman said...

Thanks for the suggestions and the commiseration - I'm glad that this feeling of being overwhelmed by teaching and feeling guilty about doing no work in the first year. I did send out an article and I got married and I went out on the job market. Unfortunately, tenure-track did not materialize for me this year, so I'll be doing it again next year - but I am fortunate to have a very nice teaching opportunity at a new school next year (where the Dutchman has a "phat" t-t position)! And, as Dr. V mentioned, I feel like I will get a lot of work done on my manuscript this summer and fall (only teaching 1 course)...and the end is in sight! Whew!


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