Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Goals? Oh yeah.

Two days ago, I posted my next few goals. It's funny how we make a list, then seemingly ignore it. The one thing I started yesterday actually didn't make it to my list but should have. I started reading the book, in field #2, which I agreed to review for a journal.

I'm almost recovered from the flu, or whatever it is. Still a bit congested, with a cough, and headachy, but less and less. I've just felt a bit sidetracked these past few days; cleaning a bit, and wandering in a haze of directionlessness. Got some good cleaning done though. I feel a need to just keep it up, and once everything is in order, finally, I want to continue purging and purging, and downsizing our too many things.

I've had a few good days with the boys though, which is nice. I've been "working" at home, as I mentioned. We have an au pair who watches the boys mostly from 8-4, though when I'm at home, I interact with them quite a bit. It's a treat though to have someone else around whom I can call on to engage with them, when I feel a need to get something done. Normally, she takes the boys out to a museum, or the library, or a park for a couple hours each day. But, it's quite nice, I admit, to be able to take breaks by spending some time with them, rather than gossipping with grad students, or playing Russian Square or some game at PopCap.

Professionally, though, I'm still numb. I realize, and believe, that I am on the right track. I'm writing, I'm reading. I'm keeping up my research. I need to get back to conferences, preferably as a presenter. I haven't been to one since August 2004, when I chaired a panel and presented a paper. I was invited for two preliminary interviews at a mainstream conference in my field (what I called the Society of Old Dinosaurs) last October, but by the time they invited me, I had already decided not to attend. I offered a telephone interview, but neither took me up on it. When I had looked over the papers accepted for the conference, I found only one or two that seemed potentially interesting, peripherally. It's not really my scene.

I'm dealing right now with the issue of whether or not to renew my membership. It's the society in my field, so I'm led to believe. But, I honestly don't connect with the research that is promoted there. I'm not trying to be harsh, just honest. When I applied to go back to grad school (I already had a Master's degree), I wasn't sure what area, even what field I should apply to. I considered jumping to another principal field (my Master's was in the same department at most schools, though a different area from my PhD work).

I finally decided that I should stick with the same field, but which subdiscipline? I had a good idea of what I wanted to study, which questions I wanted to ask. That wasn't the problem. It was rather that no one (it seemed to me) was asking those questions. I wound up applying to three different programs (subdisciplines) at four different schools. As I wrote a while ago, I only got accepted to two of the four. The two where I wasn't accepted were my top picks. They both had existing programs in the area of research that I most associate with, with scholars actively a part of what I'll call the Society for Innovative Interdisciplinarity.

When I attend SII conferences, I have trouble choosing between concurrent sessions, because there's always something of interest. This society attracts together scholars from quite disparate fields. It's exciting. It's what I identify with. I feel welcome and respected (even by the scholars at those two schools) in that society. I have things to learn, and I have things to contribute.

But I was not accepted to study for the PhD at those two schools. In some ways, I don't regret it. It's allowed me more freedom to forge my own path, less guided (or restricted) by any specific approach to the subject. I wound up pretty much creating my own curriculum, replacing some normal classes in my first field, with classes in fields 2 and 3, and participating in an interdisciplinary program at the school (with which my department was not affiliated). I even proposed and taught a course through that program as a graduate student, for which I received no credit or payment. It was a labor of love.

I guess I also need to get back to teaching. I give lectures now and again, either as part of a colloquium series, or as guest speaker for some colleague's class. Other than that one interdisciplinary course, however, I haven't taught my own class since I was a community college lecturer, before returning for the PhD. I managed to get through five years of the doctoral program entirely under fellowships, one year at a time, rather than as a Teaching Assistant. My student evaluations from the 6 terms at the community college however show me as an excellent teacher. But I fear those voices are beginning to fade. Six years old? I can hear the hiring committees chant.

The job season wanes. I've still received no calls. Just those two early, preliminary interview invites, that seemed to go nowhere. I hear from colleagues who have been through it, that these conference "interviews" really don't amount to much, so it's no big loss. Who knows? There's still a bit of time. Some searches are still open. There will still be more one-year postings in the next month or so. But I fear the prospects of another year without permanent affiliation, another year of seeking, of hoping, of striving. I guess the fear gets me nowhere though. I just need to keep working. I need to be a bit more agressive perhaps in seeking adjunct teaching in this area, to get me back in front of a class again.

So, here's the revised goals list:

  • Read book, and write book review.
  • Literature review for longitudinal study.
  • Begin preparations/ideas/outlines for colloquium talk I'm giving in May.
  • More aggressively pursue adjunct teaching opportunities for Summer/Fall.
  • Start planning grant applications (including for longitudinal study).
  • Keep developing ideas for new articles, and possibly book proposals.

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