A lot of the time these days, I just feel like I am juggling too much. I probably need to be a bit more boundary-setting about things like e-mail - today, I had a mini-meltdown in my office after getting
- "Where are we supposed to hand in our assignment! You didn't make a link for us to hand in our assignment!" e-mail, to which I sighed, went and found the link on the class page, and mailed it, and immediately after I e-mailed it got an "oh, I found it" e-mail.
- "I missed the assignment open it back up for me!" and I did, and then they e-mailed back "oh oops I guess I already did it" and yeah.
- and a "I missed the deadline [which was a three week long deadline], these deadlines are too tight!" so I reopened the assignment. That one I actually got a "thanks" for my response for.
I think I figured out a lot of my malaise this fall: teaching largely/entirely online removes all the parts of teaching I find most rewarding and pleasant (casual conversations in class, helping people one-on-one in lab, seeing people's faces light up when they "get" something) and emphasizes the less-pleasant parts (the eternal grading, the eternal treadmill of exam-writing - worse this year because they must be done in BlackBoard, either by typing them in question by question or using an upload system that requires an annoying formatting anyway, the e-mails you MUST attend to, some of which sort-of accuse you of not doing something you should have done or of doing things to make it harder for the student in question)
And the mistakes I make seem more prominent, and what I do that's okay-to-good seems to fade into the background. Errors seem more catastrophic, and there's less celebration of completed things.
I got my annual productivity report written up. I need to give it a once over before submitting it. It's not good, but then, these are terrible times, so I guess it's okay for me to have crummy productivity in horrible times? What are they gonna do, fire me?
But I still feel bad about it.
I commented on Twitter either today or yesterday that a lot of the stuff that seemed on-brand for me as a kid - one year I won the "extra mile" award because the teachers said I always did over and above what was expected, and when we made poetry chapbooks in fifth grade (one of my favorite assignments ever) I spent a lot of time on it, illustrating mine, finding just the right poems, copying them out so carefully by hand) and it was so creative. And also, I had a bit of a flair for the dramatic at times - I remember in high school, when we were doing King Lear, and we all were given scenes to act out, and we got the one with Cornwall and Gloucester (if you know the play you might know the one) and all my group members looked a bit anxiously at me and I was like "I'LL BE CORNWALL. I HAVE AN IDEA HOW WE CAN DO THIS" and I dressed in it for a trouser role (I even borrowed a fur vest from a friend of my mom's, which looked a bit like a doublet) and I got GRAPES and we sat Gloucester with his back facing the audience, and at the key moment I palmed the grapes out of a pocket and I squashed them, in turn, in my hands, and it was satisfying...
and none of those things fit me now....or so it feels. I'm getting by on doing the barest of bare minima, I've lost my creative spark, I'm too inhibited to do things like "yes yes we will have grapes that we can pretend are his eyes I am plucking out" and I wonder....how much of the fundamental "me" have I lost in this past year? And can I find her again?
I mean, not right now. Like I said: all my energy is going towards work, and it's still not enough. I feel like I'm not doing remotely enough, and it's going to bite me badly later, but it's hard to get anything much done when it takes twice as long to do the shopping or other errands, or when I'm stuck spinning my wheels dealing with the giant shambolic mess that is accepting work and making assignments via BlackBoard.
And maybe yes, I still have a creative spark, but now it's entirely dedicated to solving problems and figuring out "hacks" to make it through this semester intact. And I don't like that. I want to use my creativity for fun things, not survival things.
Absolutely not watching the debates. Probably logging off the internet for the evening in a few minutes, eating, bathing, and then watching something on dvd for the evening - or just going to bed early and reading.
Went searching for "is there a light at the end of this tunnel" articles and the most recent one was early September so I guess we're pretty well screwed. I am running out of hope and am afraid I might die of a broken heart from lack of friendly human contact. Maybe this is the big sort for humanity? Where people who can live happily without support of others survive, and the rest of us just wither up and die? Of course most people aren't idiots like me, they got married or partnered up and had families so they're not alone. But I'm not sure how much longer I can DO this, and it seems like it might be mid to late 2022 at this point that there' ANY hope of things improving.
I won't make it.
Every week right now feels like it's a month long, and not a GOOD month.