Saturday, December 13, 2008

My God, My God, My God

It's 51 right now. It was a bit warmer earlier.

It's supposed to be 1 tomorrow night. Yes. ONE. With windchills of -20 or more. I sure hope the plants are mulched good enough, especially with no snow forecasted.

The weather parallels the work of grading finals: essays, stories, poems. I am frozen, stuck at the kitchen table with papers everywhere.

And since I feel publically sorry for myself lately, why not go for the gold. I applied for just one teaching job, a local gig, since I'm staying in town the next few years. Didn't get it. Got that letter today. Also got rejections from Fugue and Orion (Orion says it's a sweet essay, but not right for them--sweet).

I'm not depressed. I don't need to be cheered up. I spent two hours working on an essay after the mail came, and it's hard to get the flow right in its 15 pages. I'm angry. Maybe I'm bitter. Even if I work hard, it's futile: the writing, the teaching. It feels like the same thing over and over, spinning wheels. I see why people cut corners in life, why older professors get so jaded, why writers become dictionary salesmen. Of course, you can't please everyone, but who wants to please? I want to affect, cause change, create deep reflection and resonance. It's not happening. Perhaps my standards are too high. Or I'm naive. After 9 years I want tenure. A sabbatical.

Here's a confession: I wasn't as good a teacher this term as I usually am, in large part due to the pull I felt from the dissertation. One day I was writing, the next I was lesson planning / grading / conferencing. Writing. Teaching. Writing. Teaching. Is this what I want? I can't give 20% to this, 20% to that, and do anything as good as I'd like. There's no balance in this profession, and by the time you make it to the promised land--summer--it takes those two or three months just to get back to par because you're so drained (I can't imagine working full time all year, so maybe I ought to just shut up).

So now I'll go eat dinner. Have some chocolate. Grade some more. Watch some TV. Sleep. Wake up. Try again. Fail better.


Anonymous said...

Hello Benjamin, from 51 to 1, is that a record of some kind? It sounds as though the world would crack open with that sudden and dramatic a change. It also sounds as though your world is cracking open too. You will get a small break between semesters? To recharge and find your center. There will always be the mundane, in any profession, that needs tending to, when you would rather be doing what you love. Hope you can stick with it, if that is what you really want to do.


Victoria Summerley said...

Benjamin, you need a holiday. Failing that, a bar of chocolate. Failing that, a hug. Consider yourself cyber-hugged.

Christopher C. NC said...

That's right. Let it all out. You don't want these things to fester. Purge yourself. You'll feel better soon enough.

Sugary treats are also very helpful.

Benjamin Vogt said...

Frances--Turns out it was 60 yesterday, and they now say 0 tonight. Ahh, life on the Great Plains.
Victoria--Thanks for stopping by! Cyber hug back? I must say, chocolate helps--I've been eating WAY to much the last week or two.
Christopher--No. I'm a master at festering. I could've been a member of the Adams family?

Anonymous said...

I found your blog through Garden Rant, and check it every couple of days because your writing is sometimes beautiful, at times funny, and almost always moving. I've shown it to others, including a few song writers, who all enjoyed your writing. Your blog is one of my top five. Thank you for continuing to write. I look forward to books. (I even like the poetry you choose for it, and I haven't enjoyed poetry in years - though as a child I got to go to Miss Venie's house every Thursday, get a cup of hot tea, toast with apple butter, and then act out poems as I recited them.)

Anonymous said...

I've been feeling like I'm on that same 'hamster wheel' - that the breaks that are supposed to rejuvenate aren't working as well as they should, and the wheel gets more difficult every time I face it.

I'm waiting for the midwinter day to pass and the sun to start returning, and hoping that will brighten my outlook as well as the skies...