Tuesday, Sept. 16, 2003 - 12:24 p.m.
Right when I woke up this morning I was dreaming about playing Pong. It was pleasant. I am certain I dreamed about this because of Mimi Smartypants' entry of yesterday.
I also dreamed that I was in a house that was being both renovated and prepared for a storm. I ended up sleeping in the living room with a certain young linguistics professor -- we were sharing a tiny foldout bed. We talked...she reminded me that she was getting married next weekend (she IS getting married sometime soon in real life). We ended up making out: it was a fun, sexy dream. We'd have to stop from time to time because my father was wandering around the kitchen and would occasionally pass by the door of the living room. There was a weird sense of inevitability about the girly action...we'd kept getting closer and closer, and when we started kissing it was like 'Oh, this comes next, of course'. It was fun, but there was a unsettling apocalypticness to it all because of the approaching storm. There was also a loud grandfather clock in the room (my most obnoxious dream metaphor EVER. Duh, yes, I get it. Down, Subconscious, DOWN. Stop slobbering).
This particular professor, in real life, epitomizes the world of a barely-tenured academic trying to inch her way up to full professorship. She flies to conferences every damn weekend. She is sweet, but is highly driven and lacks a sense of humor. She does not have time for people. I do not want to be her. But I do want to make out with her. Maybe in real kissy life, yes, but most certainly in a dreamo-metaphoric way. I AM making out with her, flirting around the edges of academia, getting involved but not too involved with everything she stands for. And there IS a sense of inevitability about it all. I'm battening down the hatches for Hurricane PostDoc; if I continue on my current path, acquiring more and more degrees, I'll have to make some kind of commitment, get married (like she is) to academia and to myself. I don't want to. It feels like the indecisive world I've lived in for 24 years has to end.
My career problem is that I get sick of things fairly quickly, or at least lose the drive to continue investigating them. I am completely molded to school: I have a one-semester attention span. I can get excited about something for about fourteen weeks. I was excited about my thesis for a record six months. I love things (so MANY things), but I move on so fast to other wonderful things. If I never had to teach the same class twice, I might be okay in academia. If I could switch departments every year I might be okay. I'm passionate about so many things, but I need constant flux and innovation. I like learning about things, learning the jargon and methods of a new discipline, learning a new language, writing a good paper, and then moving on; I don't so much like working within the discipline for a long time.
My father, on the other hand, has worked at the same job for over thirty years, and has been happy the whole time. He liked volcanoes and rocks when he was my age. He still likes volcanoes and rocks. I'm sure this is why he was hovering around the kitchen in my dream. I WANT that...I want what he has (and had): a totally clear attraction to one and only one field, and the guts and ability to devote my entire life to that field. It would all be so clear.