November 13, 2005

Moving (no question mark).

Yeah, so we're out of here. I like Southern Illinois. I like SIU. I can stand Carbondale on good days. Time to leave before it gets so that I hate them all. For crap sakes, I was wearing shorts and Tevas yesterday. It's November. Hello, Southern Illinois, it's November. I haven't resorted to shoes and socks yet. I'm in for it when we leave to visit Maryland in a few days. I haven't Okayed anything with my department of my disseration director. But I don't think they'll mind that I don't expect them to pay me for the next two years. And I don't think many people will notice anyway. I suspect that my wife is unhappy in her department anyway. There are a few unpleasant people there. Why the hell would you send someone an email with social advice, when you're a veritable shut-in and nasty person who is just...creepy? I can understand the nosey questions she gets about her degree progress and her pre-SIU background. But some people just cross lines that even freaky graduate students don't usually traverse. A crazy white lady tried to tell her how to be black! That just takes the cake. (My wife is black, in case you're new here.) At least I'm lucky enough to not have that bullshit in my department. Half of the folks there don't even know me, since I don't go to parties enough and since my fellowship relieved me of teaching duties since I've been here. I don't have any beef with the philosophy department at all. In fact, I maintain that the philosophy department has to be the one full of the most "normal" people of any graduate student body of philosophers in the nation -- despite one or two people I'll celebrate never having to see again. I really like my department. It's just time to go. In thinking of being here for five years when I got to SIU and Carbondale, I think I thought of that as semi-permanent. I mean, I hadn't been in one place for that long since I started this academic circus game of jumping through stupid hoops and trying to learn something along the way. The idea of leaving, working on my dissertation full-time next year and applying for jobs next year (rather than in two years) and of even looking for a job outside of academia is a strange thought and an unnerving feeling. It seems risky, unwise and likely to end with me working at a bookstore again but with "Dr. Johnny" on my nametag and a serious chip on my shoulder. But this was inevitable. I'm just pushing it up a year and getting through with my very long education a year early and getting on with the rest of my life. I think some people think of graduate school as the start of a academic career. They are very concerned with publishing, presenting, teaching and what they can put on their precious C.V.s. Not that there's anything necessarily wrong with that approach. The free time and flexibility that comes with being a graduate student can't be beat! But I just want to get it over with now. I'm stagnating. Whenever I get a "good idea," I have to do something else, and it has to wait. Such is my dissertation topic. I've been thinking about it since the month I got here, but I haven't been able to do much with it. And having a fellowship has made me lazy and bored. I know myself and how I sometimes need what my father would call "a swift kick in the ass." With teaching for the next two years (assuming I even get the funding) and writing, I know what's going to happen. I'll take longer. I'll get depressed. I'll be too scared and too busy to go to the conferences I need to go to. I'll start to hate SIU, Carbondale, philosophy and academia altogether. So this is me kicking myself in the ass -- swiftly. I just hope my foot doesn't get stuck and that I don't wind up living in my parent's garage.


Lorianne said...

Good luck with the move. It sounds like the right next-step for both of you.

A gentle word of advice from someone who's "been there" both as a diss-writing person & as someone coaching several folks through their diss-writing process. Make sure you find some sort of intellectual community to give you the support you'll lack living far away from your institution. Doing a diss can be a hugely lonely & isolating experience. You're fortunate to have a sympathetic spouse, but still...there will be times when you'll miss having a department office to walk into, in-the-flesh colleague to shoot the shit with, etc.

If all else falls, hire a dissertation coach. Mine was a godsend: I don't think I would have finished without the "oomph" a coach provided. And if you're looking for a good one, I happen to know one who's Fucking Awesome. :-)

PS: Although I'm a white lady, I've no advice for the Mrs. on how to be black. ;-)

Pragmatik said...

Thank you, Lady F-A:)

What you say makes a lot of sense. I can imagine myself emerging from a tiny apartment near Hopkins and being scared of the passers-by from having no human contact in a few days. I did a bad job of keeping in touch with the folks in the same stage of the program with me here diss-wise, and it's been weird trying to figure it all out by myself. That big-assed paper is intimidating.

Luckily, the gent who I have always considered my "mentor" lives in Baltimore. Almost as fun as going out drinking and eating with him (and last time we had ice-cream, too!) is talking with him about philosophy, teaching, academia.

But you're definitely right about keeping in touch with other unfortunate folks who are embarking on the same task. I really want to enjoy writing it, since it's the only academic hoop I've been looking forward, too.

Anonymous said...

tell our chair to give me your funding.

-- the faner fantom

Lorianne said...

Having a mentor nearby is great, especially if he's not a member of your diss committee & thus can be a sounding board for the things you wouldn't say around them. (Not that you should keep secrets from your committee, of course...but sometimes you want to complain *about* them, or sometimes you want to whine *honestly* about the process, and the power dynamic makes it difficult to say those sorts of things to the folks who are officially "grading" you.)

If nothing else, eating ice cream *always* helps! :-)

Pragmatik said...

FF, I wasn't planning on talking to him about it until after Thanksgiving (or Christmas) in case something happens to make me change my mind. Though I really doubt that is going to happen.

But brother man, I don't think he even knows who the hell I am:) Which is my fault, I guess.

Alcarwen said...

I'm of the opinion that nothing'll help the writing process like a good change.

It's tough finding a balance with the dept... on one hand, it's nice to have people who are going through the same thing.... on the other, well, it'd be really nice to wave goodbye and leave them behind;-) i hear you on that one.

you know goucher has a philosophy opening right now....;-) check their website.