Professing * Reflecting

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Escape Routes

I was going to call this post "Plan B," but in an interesting case of linguistic slippage that signifier is forever changed. (By the way, yay on the passing of the legislation!! Maybe we are not living in an Atwoodian Gilead quite yet.) This slippage (a word which is now in this context is making me think of condoms) also gives a whole new significance to my favorite imaginary custom t-shirt, "Plan B is my Plan A."

Anyway, this is not a post about emergency contraception. The original title would not have really worked in its old significance, as this is not even a post about plans but rather about my resistance to them.

I was chatting with one of my favorite former students who was telling me of his plans for graduate school or x or y. He had a very clear-cut sense of "if this does not work out or if I do not like it for these reasons, I can do this or this." It made me realize that I never really had a Plan B (except the ready supply in my medicine cabinet. . .erf, tricky thing a signifying system, no?). I do have an idea of things I could do if I left this profession, but not in a systematic way that would constitute an actual contingency plan.

The reason I mention all of this is I am not having the usual bright and sparkly back-to-school feelings about the semester starting one week from today. I am ready. My syllabi are done, and I am ready to teach. Except for the one revise and resubmit I thought I might squeeze in if I had time, my summer research projects are completed and sent. I have a somewhat coherent and doable research plan for the upcoming year. So I am ready. I am not dreading it and I am not anxious. I am just also not especially excited.

Right now I am getting ready to go to campus to make some copies and face the state of my office, which unless special school-house elves have been there and cleaned is very messy indeed. I do not want to go. I am realizing this is a real problem. I think I know why this is. I am afraid that I will get all excited and motivated only to be kicked square in the face like I was last year. Yes, this is stuff from last year (the Unbloggable Year, the Year That Made Medusa Disappear) rearing its ugly head. Until I find a way to blog it all out, I will say that . . . [Edited out due to start-of-the-semester paranoia. The basic gist was "asshole at work blah blah making my life difficult yadda yadda."]

In any case, I have probably said too much and it is a miserable situation. It is one of the primary reasons I should probably go on the job market this year. It is also what drives me to think of leaving the profession, completely and forever.

So, yes, I am spending time daydreaming rather than making solid plans. Below is my short list of Ways to Escape the Profession, or What I Would Do Instead of Being Dr. Medusa. If you feel like it, please vote on your favorite.

1. Go back to school and get a Ph.D. in physics and/or geography. (What?! This is what happens when geeks daydream. Seriously, I love both of these fields and they could not be more different from my own.)

2. Find a way to work for the rock-n-roll circus and tour the world. (This is a tough one, as I do not have a high level of musical or technical skills and I do not want to be a hooker. I would love it if the rockstars needed a traveling professor to give daily sonnet or some such lessons.)

3. Sell out. (This is even tougher than 2, as there is no real way to "sell out" in my field. I suppose going into administration could be seen as a way, but that is not at all near enough to the level of buckets-o-cash selling out I am imagining.)

4. Bartend and/or wait tables and write.

5. Find a way to buy this place in the Italian countryside. Live there. Make lots of martinis with home-grown olives. Write. (You guys can come and stay in one of the three guest cottages anytime you want. I realize this plan may fully depend on 3 or the hooker option in 2.)

6. Move to Maine or Nova Scotia or Newfoundland and follow the call of the sea to be a lobster fisherwoman or a pirate or a shipbuilder or. . . (I actually have friends who lobster fish for a living, like these guys but different. When I tell them of hearing the call of the sea, they tell me in no uncertain terms, "Yeah, whoever's calling, it ain't the sea." I nevertheless continue to entertain the idea that it's true. We seafarers are a persistent bunch.)

That's it for the short list. I am off to school.



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