Normally, I’d lock something like this away on my liveJournal. But it occurred to me that, before so many people knew the person behind the nom de blog, I was a bit more open. In celebration (and some defiance) of impending events, and upon realizing that a lot of the readers are similar in age, career stage, relationship status, etc., I thought, “what the hell?”
So I had some goals for this year. I was going to run a 10k. I was going to get back down to wearing a size 10 comfortably. I was going to keep on top of things. I was going to finish umpteen projects, and get two articles in press. I was going to have a big birthday party.
I have been running about twice all year (although I may go today, since the weather is perfect).
I cannot wear 10s comfortably, primarily because I have not only not run, but since returning from the UK, have exercised little and eaten in unhealthy ways and not been sleeping.
You should see the piles of marking and the state of my house.
I did do a few things right. I got *an* article in press, largely because I got handed a deadline.
I picked up an old hobby, worked on my skills, and joined a group for that hobby. It’s rewarding, but is also a time commitment, especially if I want to make it worth the money. But it feeds an entire part of my life I’d ignored for years, so I think it’s worth it.
And anyway, I don’t actually want a big party, and I really don’t want to spend the day before and the day of my birthday cleaning and cooking so I can be exhausted. Also, I committed to giving a couple of talks at a local church regarding their denomination and its founder’s politics (they called a historian! and are totally cool with my talking about why imitating the political behavior of a late Medieval person isn’t really appropriate for a country founded largely on Enlightenment thought): the first of these is the morning after my birthday. I want to have a clear head.
So I haven’t planned anything, but probably should.
Yes, I am navel-gazing. The timing seems right for it. I am coming up on the birthday where I can no longer hope it’s only a halfway point to my life. A good friend’s husband died two weeks ago. I wasn’t there for her, because I haven’t been keeping up on blogs, and never manage to remember to phone people when it’s the right time for their time zone. I’ve missed almost everyone’s birthday this year. Another friend has left her academic job, and her thoughts on it shook me to the core. Yet another friend revised his manifesto, and reading my own feelings in someone else’s words helped me to remember why I am who I am. A change, or changes, in my life and priorities seem not only appropriate, but also imperative.
Here’s the thing. Or a thing. I have had a bad few years. Since I turned 40, I have taught at three places. I got divorced. I moved house three times in old city, then across the country, where I’ve lived in three places in six years. That’s six moves in ten years. I went up for promotion. I got involved with someone, a colleague. We broke up. It was emotionally messy, and we’ve had to build a new friendship of sorts because our academic and social circles overlap too much to avoid each other. That’s good, but was hard. I was simultaneously in two professional situations where I (and a couple of other people) had to deal with colleagues behaving unprofessionally and uncollegially to the extent that it triggered the explosive locks on a lot of very carefully buried baggage. To compensate, I overcommitted myself even more than usual, which in some ways was good; for example, I was able to see how important the scholarly side of my work was to me, and made real efforts to keep it alive. In some ways, it wasn’t so good: I set and met expectations that would have been exhausting in a good year. At this point, I’m slowly folding things up, throwing some away, and packing the rest more carefully, so I know where they are, and can tell when someone else has found a key to a particular suitcase, so I can change the locks. Most of this happens below the surface, but it seems to take up a lot of mental and emotional energy, so that in lots of ways I’ve been on auto-pilot for several months.
Meanwhile, I have projects languishing. I may be looking at a sabbatical in the next year — my first! ever! Should I get something else in press, I would be set to go up for promotion in the next year (accelerated track the first time, plus SLAC’s publication requirements, which are reasonable for people with our teaching and service load, make this possible). I also have seen a couple of jobs I’d like to apply for. And I’m a slightly overweight, largely single, middle-aged woman with cats and a house that needs upkeep. I have friends and family who matter to me more than I have shown them of late.
I’m still on auto-pilot, but that doesn’t mean I can’t start thinking about small, incremental improvements that I should be making now. Because if not now, when?