The last few weeks have been an endurance test for me… by the time I got to mid-afternoon today I was completely shot. My job is difficult even in the best of circumstances, but when it decides to really force me into a corner it can be remarkably difficult. That’s fine, I knew that when I signed up for this life. But I can still be happy when I see a bit of a break coming up on the horizon. As of late this afternoon, things are supposed to be easier for me for the next six months, as I’ve been stripped of some of my administrative responsibilities until October and allowed time to think and reflect and hopefully to get things done.
This is much needed for reasons that I will not bother to go into and bore whatever few readers I have left after a couple of months of near silence. I am back-logged on laundry. There are few clean dishes in my kitchen. The bathroom is a disgrace and needs cleaning badly. The sheets need changing on the bed. These are the usual things that fall down when all-day work takes over and work moves from all-day to all-day and all night long. I desperately need a wife. These are the days when living alone and having no one with whom to share the household tasks really starts to grate on me. So maybe I need to break down and hire a cleaner. We’ll see.
But I will survive. I have the next ten days to recoup and recover. And then I’m off to the states for a few weeks of R&R; mostly to do with work but with a strange little family vacation thrown in. When my mother visited last summer, we discussed the family dynamic a great deal and I suggested that we should all hang out somewhere that is not Minnesota. As a result, we have crazy family vacation planned–the parentals and the two grown daughters, both in our thirties, both with PhD degrees and tough jobs but no husbands and certainly no kids, and we’re all heading together to Las Vegas for foodie adventures and to visit the Grand Canyon, which none of us have seen. In the same US trip, I (being me) am visiting a number of places for work (Denver, Boston, NYC, Miami) so it will not exactly be a relaxing trip overall but it should be a good one. And when I return from this trip I have a nearly-blank calendar for May, which is precisely what I need right now.
The schedule of work things that I am going to do while in the states is a good indication of the internal struggle that I am constantly facing between relaxing and trying to advance my career. It’s not an easy balance to make. I am keen to take interesting opportunities for interactions with others in my field and I do not easily or readily slow down. But I’ve been doing too much of this, and not enough quiet and considered working. When I was a PhD student, I had a very memorable Russian professor who cornered me in his office once and yelled at me that I had potential but I was not concentrating. I feel like the last 18 months have really been the picture of this problem, that I have been functioning and getting things done and mostly keeping people happy (mostly, not perfectly) but never shutting the world out to concentrate on any one thing, and I am getting excited now to think about what might happen if I actually concentrated on something for a while.
There have been times in the past when I have done so. When I was finishing my PhD in the US and was getting frustrated by the job market, I did in fact really buckle down and focus on fixing the biggest gap in my CV and this got me to where I am today. It’s time now to do this again, to stop rushing from mad crisis to mad crisis and from deadline to deadline and to seriously concentrate on the next big task at hand. I know I can do it. I just need to stop faffing about and to spend some time on the tough stuff until I can break it and start to make forward progress. It’s not going to be easy, but it is potentially going to be fun. Watch this space.