Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Bouncing Off the Walls, Unraveling the Thread

Last week I mentioned how tired I am. It's a physical tired, but not just that. It's a tired that's in my head, too.

In comments, M.A. Program Faculty Member reminded me of something Old Fart said a while ago. Think of getting a job as a marathon, not a sprint. I get the point of the marathon metaphor. I need to take the long view of my prospects. True enough, because it's not like getting a job is a sprint, either--or at least that's not how it's turning out for me. Also, it's impossible not to appreciate sincerely the kindness and empathy that's meant in this advice. In some sense that's the really important thing.

But still, I can't quite buy the marathon metaphor. It gets the rhythm all wrong. Getting a job's not slow and steady, so that's not how I'm going to win the race. I fucking hammered for months. It's not just the amount of work I was doing, although it was that too. It's the heart palpitations and cortisol-level spikes; it's the insomnia; it's the hope and it's the fear.

But now that's all over and I'm left feeling like I lost three pints of blood. Now every day's about trying to get some momentum back, trying to find my groove. Come September, I'll do it all again, hammering for months and then crashing hard. That's not a marathon. I don't know what it is.


Anonymous said...

If you are actually trying to win (rather than just finish) a marathon, its not "slow and steady" at all. Its fast and steady. You'll be exhausted after the first five miles, and then you just have to go for 21 more. Marathons are both long and very painful, so I think that the analogy is apt.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Grand Tour bicycle racing (e.g., the Tour de France) provides a better metaphor: it's a long road, but different kinds of efforts are required on different days: some days are just brutal (riding up the Alps or the Pyrenees); others involve steady mild effort until a mad sprint at the end; others involve just you against the clock. The important thing is to keep turning the pedals over -- and to keep taking on nourishment. If you bomb in the Tour, you can always ride the Vuelta a Espana -- just like you can try again, if only for one-years, at the Pacific or Central. Keep a-going! And when you're suffering (as you struggle up Alpe d'Huez), look around: so is (almost) everyone else, since most of us are domestiques, not Lance Armstrongs...

Anonymous said...

"That's not a marathon. I don't know what it is."

High intensity interval training?

Anonymous said...

I like to think of it as professional wrestling, where I am the little no-name wrestler who gets put against some superstar just so the crowd can watch the superstar kick some ass. Even though the results of the match are determined ahead of time, and are totally outside of my control, all those body slams still hurt like hell.

Anonymous said...

I'm feeling kind of like an undrafted free agent right now. Came out of a good school but didn't have the mark of the chosen on me, so I'm trying to hang on long enough to get the chance to show them I can start. So far it's preseason at one school, three games at another, eight games out of the league, and I'm hoping to get picked up at least next preseason or, ideally, for the final couple of games this year.

Sisyphus said...

It's like rolling a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it crush you as it slips out of your control and rolls back down, and then you have to do the same thing over again the next day?

Just be glad they didn't pick Prometheus as the model for the job market.

Or, you know, the whole Christians vs. lions thing.

Anonymous said...

Musee des Beaux Arts
W.H. Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky, had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

Anonymous said...

it's like a triathlon, except you get a leg-cramp while you're swimming and your bike has a flat tire.

no--it's like the biathlon, when your rifle won't shoot.

it's a pentathlon! it's a decathlon!

it's a hop skip and a jump.

it's a fucking drag.

Anonymous said...

You are so right, unless you go thru this, you’ll never know.

This is mental hell.

I think what wears me down the most is the view that people have us.

My friends who are already established in their careers and have homes, have stock portfolios, winter trips to Barbados and summer trips to cape cod tell me how lucky I am to still be in school – yeah, that’s me, lucky, I’m so lucky to drive my 1991 Honda and live in an apt that is much different from a dorm a room.

I’m so lucky I can’t afford to buy my family decent Christmas gifts.

I’m so lucky that at the age of 32, I’m watching the world pass me by because I can’t get a job in my field.

Anonymous said...

Can we start a new thread on what to say to our friends who don't get jobs this year? I know that the job cycle isn't over (what with the skimpy Spring JFP to contend with), but what do I, a fellow phil. grad student who wasn't on the market (but even if I was...), say to my most-deserving friends?

I honestly have no idea.

Totally sucks.

Anonymous said...

As someone who was on the market this year - "totally sucks" sort of works.

Anonymous said...

Look, I know it sucks and I know that random anecdotes are just that. But in the spirit of the marathon thing: this was my FIFTH straight year on the market (2005 PhD, Leiter top 15 or so). This academic year was my third year in a pretty lousy 4/4 load 3-year job which had no possibility of renewal, so it was do or die. I had only two APAs (fewer than last year) and no confirmed pubs (teaching 4/4 will do that to you). I had one fly-out, and mirabile dictu I got the job (tt, 3/3 at a place that I want to be, both school and location). This is just the way it goes. I had at least two other friends in similar positions (on temp jobs for 2-3 years) who got tt jobs this year. It's simply the case that unless you're hot shit coming from a really top dept you're going to have do the time in lectureships / visiting assistant positions. It will absolutely suck; you'll hate every minute of the uncertainty and doubt; you'll probably continue to feel depressed about yourself and your work... but it won't kill you. I'm not going to tell you that it'll all be peaches and cream in the end, but, at least this year, three folks 2+ years out in temp jobs all got tt positions. It does happen.

philo said...


philosopher for hire said...

One sense in which getting a job should be thought of as a marathon rather than a sprint is that its simply a long fucking event. Your job prospects begin the moment you get into grad school with your performance in the classes you take, where you present conference papers, where you publish, who your references are, blah, blah, fucking blah.

Anonymous said...

I've become very fond of PGS over the past few months. He seems like a great guy and I'd like to have him as a colleague.

But, at this stage PGS, I would respectfully urge that you bow out of the blog business and let the others take PJMB. This course of action has probably already occurred to you and I'm sure that people who care about you in the embodied world have already made the case.

I'm moved to say this because of all the fun your blog has provided me. Whenever I feel sorry for myself and am hating my job, I read your blog and it cheers me right up.

I'm thinking that the blog has reached the end of its useful life for you and for other job seekers; you've covered all the relevant topics in exquisitely painful detail.

I know that some (at least 3) of your readers were sort of hoping you'd fail to find a job so that the fun would continue. We employed philosophers derive many shameful pleasures here.

At the very least, since I'm guessing the stats for this blog are pretty strong, I'd encourage you to use ads to generate some income off your work.

Ozzy said...

I think the dreaded "suicide" sprints are apt. You know - if on a basketball court, sprint to the foul line and back, then to mid-court and back, then to the other foul line and back, and the other end line and back. (Evil coaches will add in add'l hash mark stops for more intervals.)

Go fast. Turn and go in the other direction. Go fast a little longer. Turn and go in the other direction...and so on. Then a breather until coach blows the whistle and tells you how badly you did on the last set, so now you need to go faster and harder (that's what she said) or you'll be there all night (that's what she said).

Disclaimer: my use of "suicide" should not be taken as any sort of advocacy for suicide. And if you read my message backwards, you will not hear the voice of Satan.

Anonymous said...

FWIW, there are new jobs in JFP-web today.

Holland, 1945 said...

"I know that some (at least 3) of your readers were sort of hoping you'd fail to find a job so that the fun would continue."

No. When PGS gets a job, then he can have "A Philosophy Tenure Track Blog." Think of all the high jinks that will ensue: PFOs from journals, problems with the crusty old dean, boring and pointless faculty meetings etc.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, honestly, I don't get the drift of anon 10:52'S comments. I like PGS but I hope he doesn't get a job, but I hope he does, but I think he's outrun his usefulness, but I think he should get ads for this blog?

You continue to kick ass PGS! Thanks for your service to the community.

Anonymous said...

I know what will make it all better.

1 part the world's smallest violin playing just for you
3 parts mocking "Oh, Boo-hoo"s
1 parts "At least you have your health"
A dash of insincere platitude

For those on a diet , the 3 parts mocking "Boo-hoo"s can be replaced with 2 parts derisive "Baby need his lolli?"

Hope this helps.

holland, 1945 said...

Anon 3:56's faux-macho attitude is incredibly tedious. At times it seemed as if he was trying to be funny. I can't tell for sure.

Mr. Zero said...

I find the following to be very helpful:

1 part dry vermouth
5 parts english gin. (I like Bombay Sapphire. Beefeater is adequate.)

shake. (Or, stirring is good, despite what Bond says. You end up with a stronger drink)

Garnish with an olive. Or, a twist of lemon, for a change.

Anonymous said...

me again; oops, sorry, Mr. Zero was right.