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Language Log

Sunday, Oct. 01, 2006 - 8:20 a.m.

Hurm, hurm. Major decisions being made, hurm. I went to a professionalization workshop on job-seeking and the tenure process in the dept, and once again realized, hey, I don't want to have to do any of this crap. I don't want to give talks, write papers, be a good colleague, take on service tasks, or think about what graduate seminars I'll want to teach. Every bit of it screams, "not for you!"

So it came up again: should I leave? And just make the jewelry? Which by all current signs, would be viable as a business with a little focused energy and a plan.

I am happy, interested, excited, and at peace when I am doing artsy things. They engage me both creatively and intellectually. When I am doing 90% of linguisticky things, I am frustrated at best, murderous at worst. During the good 10%, I am absorbed by the process and the patterns, but still a little frustrated, because there's always a next step that I can't quite get to yet. I like language, but I don't like professional academia, seems to be what I've discovered.

I am, as we know, slow to change. I am all about the status quo, even when it sucks. Something has to really bop me over the head. And I don't leave until I have something clearly better lined up.

I can look at myself from the outside and say, obviously, this isn't working the way she wanted it to. Obviously, she should change something; she isn't happy, she's on a path to nowhere. And yet, it's very hard to do that, even when I know it's right.

The real question is, do I stick it out for the big paper? It is still a lot of time-consuming work and a couple years to completion away-- lots of time I could spend doing something I like more and getting my real work going. I know people who have done that-- they always object, "I have a Master's, but I did all the coursework for the PhD." and the listener goes, yeah, whatever, the dissertation is the whole point of the thing, sorry you couldn't hack it.

It just seems like a waste of people's time, those who would put efforts into getting me through it. It seems dishonest. And if I were to tell them the real deal, they wouldn't put the effort into it-- which would result in work of lower quality, in which case, tell me again why I'm bothering?

I think I'm being fairly realistic about what starting this kind of business involves. I know that I have to streamline production to get certain things out more quickly, or I won't be able to make enough product to support myself. I know that there will be paperwork, organizing things, and selling things, which will not be my favorite parts. Now, I think I'm okay with that-- but I also thought for a long time that I would be okay with that part of academia-- if I just took enough classes, at some point I would transform into someone who liked, say, giving talks and teaching (as opposed to someone who does it with reluctant and pained semi-competence).

I admire people who can make changes boldly, decisively, without (too many) regrets. I am too cautious for my own good.

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