Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spinning My Wheels -- Or, the Summer Funk -- Or, I Think I'll Just Nap Until August

My summer funk is palpable, folks.

I tend to fall into a funk every summer, especially since we moved to the surface of the sun (a.k.a. Phoenix). Summer was always a trying time for me, especially once I found my groove in school. Summers meant long stretches of unproductivity. Sometimes it was nice, but mostly it was boring. Since I've started grad school, though, summers are all about angst. Am I doing enough? Am I using this stretch of time effectively? (You may recall I addressed this in my last post...)

Summers here mean more or less the same, but I've never done well with the heat. I've acclimated for the most part, which means that I can comfortably sit outside in the shade at 100+, or even walk a few blocks without collapsing and dying. But summer around here means long stretches inside. It's basically just like winter for everyone else farther north, but with less snow and more sweating.

Conditions like this make me sleepy. And cranky. Coupled with this is the fact that my husband currently works overnights, which means my paranoid self only sleeps well four out of every eight nights, since I know he's home and my mind doesn't start awake at each small noise. In addition to that, despite my best efforts to be social now and then, I am lonely.

This is lonely work, right now. I'm spinning my wheels on a dissertation that is probably progressing normally, but I can't help but feel that I'm trying to run through oatmeal. Joe sleeps all day, and I work all day. He gets up to go to work, and then I watch TV or read until I decide that it's time to lie down and attempt to sleep. I toss. I turn. I tweet. I turn on my white noise app or some episode of a TV show I've seen ten-thousand times, and manage to drift off somewhere around 3:00 AM, only to arise cranky and a little worse for wear the next morning.

I write. Well -- I try to write. I chip away at a mountain of work I signed up for. I send drafts to advisers who are busy managing their own mountains of work this summer, so I don't hear much in the way of direction. All this leads to incredible angst --  an angst that I've never really felt before, to be honest. What if I spend this summer writing a dissertation only to discover that I was headed the wrong direction the whole time? What if I don't get enough feedback on my materials and waste yet another year not being that competitive on the job market? What if I can't get something picked up by a journal before I need to start sending out applications? Basically -- why bother?

Bottom line -- I know this funk. I've been here before, but this one feels a little deeper. A little more pointed. It's a horrible balance that I seem to have struck between feeling like I'm working too hard and stressing too much, and yet, somehow, I've never actually done enough to get anywhere significant.

I know, too, that everyone who chooses this career ends up here sooner or later. I've been lucky that I haven't been here before. It's awful. I'll do my best to muddle through, but I think that juncture is coming up -- the point where I decide if I'm going to soldier on, or if I'm just going to nap until fall convocation. The latter is starting to sound pretty damn good.