My Greatest Fear

Okay, maybe not my greatest fear, but certainly one that is prescient, pressing, and worrisome.

How in the hell am I going to successfully balance grad school, a fairly standard teaching load, and the whole family thing? Just today, I was asked to “work from home” for the afternoon so my wife could take care of some business of her own. While I certainly don’t mind such things at all–it’s just part of being dad, after all–I can hardly expect myself to get any work done (just ask me how many papers I’ve graded this afternoon). If it’s this bad now, how much more so in a few months when I’ve actually got to get something done in the house or otherwise keep horrifically ridiculous hours in my office just for the sake of getting things done. I’m already getting up at 6:00 AM each morning just to pack in some quality reading time (I’ve been trying to finish Blood Meridian for six freaking months).

I’m running out of hours in the day. A standard complaint, I know, but a fresh one in my mind…


4 thoughts on “My Greatest Fear

  1. Okay. Here’s how you’re going to ‘get it all done’:You’re not.Nothing personal. You know I think you’re fabulous BUT there is no way that you’re going to get it all done. What you can do is get *some* if it done. You can get *part* of it done. And, a fraction of it, you’ll do even *really well.* Maybe even *great.*The trick though is knowing what those “somes,” “parts,” and “fractions” will be. Identify the “somes” and let the rest go to shit. Let me give you a rundown of the “somes,” “parts,” and “fractions” that will get done and the rest that won’t:Your school work: you’ll get it done. You have to. You’re too smart and all that to NOT do well in school. Besides, I think it would eat at you too much if you didn’t do well.Your job: you’ll get it done. You want your paycheck. You might not be “Best Teacher in the Universe” but as soon as you tell your students that they aren’t getting their papers back until next week because you had your OWN 20 page paper to write, they shut up really fast. Trust me. They’ll respect it and fear you because you could’ve taken out your pain on them. By assigning 20 page papers that they would have to write. That and your ethos will go WAY up because you know what they are going through. Students like to see their professors in pain.Your family: You’ll get that done, too. You won’t be there as often as you might like, but when you are there, you’ll be so much more focused, committed, and happy because you only have 30 minutes to be with them. You’ll make whatever time you have count so much more. Kids and wives like that. (My first year at TSU, I saw the boys on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. because I was teaching all day and in class all night. But, damn if I didn’t read them 15 stories when I got home.)Your blog: Trust me. You’ll find time to bitch and rant. If you have one second left in the day and 3 papers to write, by God, you will find the time to bitch and blog. (It’s the only thing that kept me sane. And, it was my best form of procrastination.) This blog will probably become your new best friend. “Are you there, Blog? It’s me, Chris.”Here’s those “somes” that you won’t get done:Your house: It will look like crap for the next 5 years. You’ll maybe run a lawn mower over the grass only after the HOA sends you a notice and the dishes will get washed only after you’ve eaten your cereal with the last butter knife. Just accept.Your health: Start getting up at 5 a.m. Why? Because you have to. Stop thinking you’ll be to lose weight. You’ll be a rock star if you can maintain your weight. My friend doesn’t say she gained a “40 lb. PhD” for nothing.Your leisure time: You won’t have any. An episode of House will be what you watch as a reward for working for the past 20 hours straight. I swear to God, I never enjoyed watching television so much until I started grad school. When I get to watch t.v., I love, love, love it. Those “television is opiate for the masses” asshats can suck it. I love Charm School because Plato never comes up on Charm School.Hope this helps. (You’ll also find that commenting on other’s blogs takes up a nice chunk of time that could be spent working on Chapter 1 of your dissertation. Procrastination is a cruel, cruel Mistress, isn’t she?)

  2. Thanks for what has probably been the most helpful response I’ve gotten on this matter. I think one of the hardest things for me already has been giving up all of the physical property maintenance that I am such a Nazi about (and actually enjoy, in some sick fashion).And you’ve got it–that’s exactly what this blog is supposed to be.Thanks for the edification, Rochelle.

  3. I don’t really have the experience with juggling family and school to say what Rochelle can, but I do know that your reading “what you love” will certainly work their way into “guilty pleasures,” that is, if you get to work them into that category at all. The other night I read twenty pages of something I wanted to read. There were nagging obligations at the mental door: “Pay up, buddy.”I can, I think, second Rochelle’s blog comments about blogging. This very moment, I have a three-hour take-home exam I should be working on in a class I wish everyday I could drop and not look back. It will get done. I simply refuse to let it come in between me and my leisure writing. So, your pleasure reading will probably go or take a back seat, but your pleasure writing probably will not. Maybe, too, what we think of as “having no time” means “having no time I’m inclined to make productive use of.” E.g., when I have to do these damn Stylistics tests, I put them off until the final three hours (as I’m doing now). Then, when I’m done, I might stay up for another hour, reading for a class I enjoy more, or just looking at funny shit on YouTube. You really might not have the time to do such things, having a family to tend to, but I know I do. I’ve never taken a careful inventory of how much time I prodigally spend, but in toto it’s probably staggering. Anyway, I’m sure you’ll make it happen. Many people, some of them not as smart as you, have done it. And at least you’ll have Rochelle and me for moral support.

  4. Gawd, the hours I’ve spent looking up random crap on Youtube and Wikipedia… I actually looked up George Washington on Wikipedia the other night. Which then turned into 3 hours of random crap on the interwebs.

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