breaktime

07Jun09

It should come as no surprise to longtime readers that I have a hard time taking care of myself. I work, work, work until I can’t any more, at which point months can go by without much productiveness. The idea of taking a break is foreign to me. My family never took vacations. We were too poor to nor were we a close enough family. The idea of me, my mother, and my father spending hours in a car together (or flying somewhere together) and sightseeing and generally hanging out as a family is laughable and ludicrous: I can’t imagine a more horrible and awkward situation. I’m going to avoid specifics here but let’s just say that my mother didn’t take care of herself either and forced herself to live through and endure a number of situations that boggle the mind, the final of which killed her. So I don’t really know how to take care of myself, whether it’s taking vacations, taking weekends off, going to the doctor when I need to, figuring out how to sleep better, etc. My default position has been to ignore problems as they come up, bury myself in work when I can, and hope that it won’t all blow up in my face. In fairness to myself, that approach got me through college and got me through the first four years of graduate school but it’s been ugly and the price has been steep.

Why do I bring this up now? I have roughly three months left of this research trip, the last major one for the dissertation. I’ll have to return to Global South Country briefly at some point and of course I’ll come back to London at least once before it’s all over but for the most part, this is it. With this deadline looming, I’m feeling the pressure to buckle down. So I’d planned to work right up until I leave, with tons of time in the archives plus tons of time writing. And then I realized that I just can’t do that. I cannot work nonstop right up until I leave. Next semester is going to be insane: I have to rent an apartment for the first time ever, furnish it, write and present my first major conference paper, plan the trip to GSC, write a few chapters, apply for a whole host of fellowships, and keep an eye on the job market. (I’m not planning to go on the job market fully but if something good’s around, I need to be ready for it.) All that while dealing with my normally tumultuous personal life and whatever else may happen. So now I’m trying to be okay with the fact that it’s okay for me to stop doing research in mid-August. I’m not there quite yet. What am I going to do for two weeks? Shouldn’t I be maximizing my time here?

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