Most of the Time: A Cliched Tale of My Recent Adventures

When I was younger, I always had a lot of optimism, despite my penchant for periods of morose pondering. I fretted and worried about everything, yet I always had the belief that everything would work out as I envisioned. As I get older, I'm not so sure that I even want things to work out quite the way I planned.

I've spent a number of years in academia pursuing my PhD in Film and American Literature, and I am extremely close to defending my dissertation. The entire document is now in the hands of my committee. My dissertation director and former professors have all been an immense help in this process. Soon I will be editing the final manuscript and preparing for the defense, which will hopefully be in February or March. Then, I can start the interminable process of revising chapters for possible publication. Right now, I also have a chapter to finish for upcoming publication in an edited collection.

This year I also took a position as a full-time instructor back in my old stomping grounds in Wisconsin. The students are really interesting and hardworking, and my colleagues have been super supportive. However, the teaching load is killer. I have five classes that span the range of First-Year Composition classes. I am usually happy here, but I have my reservations. The area is beautiful, but I have not had a minute to really check out anything. I spend all my time in my office at work or at home grading papers and revising abstracts.

Additionally, I am still on the job market, searching for an ever-elusive tenure track position. I have scoured the websites and job lists for possible positions, but they are few and far in between. I find a lot of literature jobs but few film ones. There are a lot of rhetoric positions but few cultural studies ones, which is really where my heart lies. I'm thinking that I might have to search for one year visiting professor positions to get my foot in the door somewhere. I feel like a heel because, while I am excited for friends who have opportunities, I often fear that I will not succeed. The job market is an uphill battle. And, while I am excited that I got this great position, I need something more permanent.

My optimism is dwindling as I keep looking and looking. As ever, my sensitivity and anxiousness are making me depressed. I am so busy that I cannot always fill out applications for the jobs that are the best fit. Instead, I find myself staring at the computer screen, entranced by Wikipedia or another record review. I sit and listen to endless records and podcasts knowing that I should be working on something: another draft, another document, a research statement I never needed before. I also know that I have to send these documents to professors for review. Most of the time though I just send them on, if I can get the energy.

I hope that I feel more optimism as the year moves on. 2017 looks to be much better. I will have my PhD, and I will finally be able to determine whether I will remain in academia. I love teaching and research, yet teaching is the most important thing to me. Five classes, however, is a bit much. I know these are my best years on the market, but I often want to give up and let life take me wherever it will. I vacillate between being an automaton and fighting for what I want to do. I still have a novel in me. I still have any number of popular music books to write. I could finally start blogging and writing for other people again. I have made the decision to write on this blog each day until the end of this semester. Despite all of these directions, I worry about having to find a menial job where I utilize none of my skills -- a position that does not honor my teaching, research, or writing experience. Or worse, I will not find a job because my curriculum vitae contains zero "utilitarian" skills. In these moments, I feel so hopeless. Most of the time, nonetheless, I try to throw myself into work. I don't want to give up. I just have to fight the urge to sleep whenever I'm not at school. Here's to optimism and letting the chips fall where they may.

Bob Dylan (Our newest Nobel dude)-"Most of the Time"


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