Wednesday, September 28, 2016

a little better

Got some work towards the talk done already and found some good sources this morning.

But I do wonder if I'm getting stupider - or if my attention span is tanking. I can't tell if it's simply age (I am circling the drain of 50....I turn 48 in February, which has me asking myself, "How the H did that happen?") or if it's the meds I'm on (too many antihistamines plus a beta blocker is probably not good for brain function and I hope I don't pass my "golden years" in a highly impaired state because of them) or if it's too many distractions (meetings, more paperwork, the internet close at hand and surfing Ravelry is more fun than reading technical papers) or if it's some kind of burnout (I've been at this job 17 years and this year, with its budget cuts, darn near broke me).

Or it could be allergies, I don't know. I hear one of my colleagues coughing and clearing his throat repeatedly and I know he has the same allergies as I do but his seem to manifest purely as physical symptoms, whereas mine seem more to affect my mood/alertness/concentration. (Which is so not fair. I'd rather have a nose that ran like a faucet and be able to think through an equation without having to write it down and look hard at it)

I also have a student who is kind of breaking me. This is someone that I think has concentration issues (undiagnosed, but they do seem to have attention span problems) and they have a habit of stopping class DEAD IN THE WATER when they are confused, and having to stop and go back and explain what symbol I just used for the nth time or rewrite something that I apparently didn't write quite unambiguously enough breaks my train of thought to the point where I have to stop and mentally rewind the past few minutes to pick up again where I was. I'm hoping and praying I don't some day lose my stuff in class and chew the person out (or, more likely for me - answer the question but in a very curt and bitten-off voice that conveys I'm ticked off).

I will also confess that feeling reduced hopes for the future doesn't help. My attitude has shifted over the years from "good things are probably around the corner" to "what fresh Hell is this?" Part of it is what I see as the gradual (or not-so-gradual) coarsening and increasing meanness of the culture. Part of it is changes in how academia works that means I put in more time on tasks that don't feel meaningful to me. Part of it is worries about "Will I actually be able to retire (even at 70) like my parents did and enjoy maybe a few years of doing what I want to do instead of what I must do?" Part of it is just geopolitical worries, or worries that I will be somewhere that is visited by the random violence that seems to be a part of life in the 2010s and thus my worries about "will I be able to afford to retire" will never materialize. (I probably need to see a lawyer and get a more-formal will than the thing I scribbled in a notebook when my stomach issues got so bad in January that I was afraid I'd be taken in for surgery).

Ironically, I ran across this article after following a link on Twitter and yes, that makes sense. I've had some very long weeks that felt good because I achieved "mission critical" stuff, but lately, I've had a lot of weeks that just felt long because I was filling out online forms I must now file, or sitting in meetings, or dealing with making arrangements for people who have problems, and have little time for work that feels meaningful to me. I don't know how to get that back; one of the things about modern academia is that students are less in a "sink or swim" environment and more in a "professors are expected to take on the role of pool noodles and floaties" environment, and as I've abundantly complained, I spend a lot of time propping other people up and I am left with little energy to prop myself up. (And I have few people willing to put any effort into propping me up. I don't know if that's a side effect of whining too much lately - the old Boy Who Cried Wolf problem, or a side effect of having, in the past, been too independent, but I'm in a bad place right now where I need some emotional support but feel I am not getting it.)

Part of it is the realization that those I am closest to won't be here forever - the people I care about the most in the world are aging. (Well, we all are, but you know what I mean). Yes, I have my brother, but he has his own family and our lives have kind of diverged in their paths. It's not that we're not "close" or are estranged or anything - it's just, we're both super busy and live a thousand miles apart so we're just not in contact much.

I dunno. I hope the Saturday trip up to learn about the monarch migration helps.

I hope the freeze we eventually will get will kill off some of the mold and pollen and that will help.

I wish I could get better about balancing work and life so I didn't feel guilty sitting down to knit a little but also that I could get more done at work.

No comments: