Sunday, November 05, 2006

Climbing back out of the trenches

During the last two weeks, I was sorely tempted to write a post entitled "Crisis of Faith," in which I would discuss (i.e., whine about) not being madly in love with my area of study and my continued questioning of whether or not the move to Canada was a good idea. I recognize, and even recognized then, that our recent poor health has sapped much of my enthusiasm for anything, but when I was in the big fat middle of it, it was hard to imagine anything improving.

Finally we're crawling out of illness. While my wife does have pneumonia and will be in recovery for some time to come, having the diagnosis and the proper medication has helped our state of mind. I can finally feel the antibiotics working on my sinus infection with the result of fewer dizzy spells, less exhaustion, and the realization that I'm doomed to feel like this for the rest of time. My son is still coughing, but it's not disturbing his sleep as it did before (and some of it is fake--whenever my wife or I cough, we hear a little cough in response).

And I've talked myself back into a truce with my studies. I recognize and duly note that I am not greatly motivated by my current courses. I am also not the kind of person who is so in love my subject area that I want to spend all of my time on it. But I had a chance to talk to some of my friends in my department, to lay out some of my frustrations, and to be reminded that I'm not the only one who feels that way. It doesn't mean I'm finding it easy to devote the time I need to my studies, but I'm not beating myself up over feeling that way.

It also helped that last night I got to meet a whole bunch of wonderful women (and many of their husbands). Ever since I made my first trip back to the States in our quest for child #2 and had a chance to meet up with the two colleagues who were my closest friends at the last school where I taught, I've been aware of how much I miss having 'adult' friends. Not to say that the classmates who have become my friends here are immature, but we're in very different places in our lives. Whenever I bring up something about my son, I usually get a response like, "I don't know how you handle school and having a child." I have missed chatting with people who instead respond in kind. So I finally got a fix of adult conversation. Sure we talked a lot about kids and related tangents, but also a fair amount about schoolwork, education in general, and the virtues of several different cities.

And of course, the night provided me with some more ideas for posts...

5 comments:

metro mama said...

I'm so glad to have met you--wish we'd had more time to chat! Next time.

Lisa b said...

Ah yes the fake cough. A childhood classic.
So great to meet you. I totally know what you mean about missing the adult conversation. I don't think it is nearly as easy to meet people in academia as in a high school setting. I really missed that social aspect in my year of grad school. It can be isolating which is not helpful when you have that challenge of your academic work.

Lisa b said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mad Hatter said...

Yes, the trouble with academia and children is that the combination can be very isolating. Just when you finally get a peer group, they all start to move away or move on or your child's health or sleep changes and you get cut off from the outside world. I'm glad you found a good group of adults to converse with.

As for the passion about your studies, I wrote the other day about my odd relationship to my career now that I have a child. The most useful bit of advice to come out of that post was the reminder that a career is a long term commitment and there are bound to be periods of intense productivity and other periods of more detached interest--like when you have a young child. I found it refreshing to step back and take the long view.

I hope everyone's health improves soon.

Mouse said...

It's interesting to realize how much more isolating the academic setting can be than teaching in a high school. This is heightened for me by the fact that my teaching experience involved some cooperative planning with my colleagues and I didn't have my own classroom, so I couldn't isolate myself.

And Mad Hatter--that's a really good point about how having a young child in particular can lead to more detachment. It's another good bit of perspective for me to add to my current list.