Thursday, March 20, 2008

When Does College Life End?

No, for real. If you haven't noticed, it's 2 a.m. and I'm still up prowling the internet. And this is not a one-time occurrence. One of the biggest differences between my friends and me is that most of them have standard, 8 to 5, five-day-a-week gigs. They go to bed the night before they have to wake up. They don't get up in the middle of the night and get on the computer.

I am still stuck in the college life. Granted, I won't sleep well into tomorrow afternoon (I wake my son up at 6:15), but I definitely am a night person. I developed that habit as an undergraduate and haven't shaken it. It fits, in a way, with my life-as-a-mama--I usually don't even attempt to work in the evenings until The Kid is in bed.

I still do my best writing in or around my bed (I preferred my bed to my desk in my dorm) and I'm still a horrible procrastinator. And I teach and hold most office hours on a Tuesday/Thursday schedule, so it really is reminiscent of yesteryear.

It's not that this is at all a big deal necessarily, but it does create a gulf between my friends and me. Our lives are out of balance. We schedule time together on the weekends, true, but I really prefer spending Friday nights lazing around and Saturdays doing some sort of work. On the other hand, if I have late-night cravings in the middle of the week, I can't call them to go to a neighboring town to get something to eat like I used to. Combine that with the fact that I was "in school" for years and years and I don't feel "grown up" in the same way that they are.

One example, living in a small town means that everyone knows when and where I work. You would not believe how many times I've heard, "Oh you work two days a week? I need that job!" My explanations about working from home and prepping for class and (finally) beginning revisions are ignored. The implication is that I don't have a "real" job--even my mom comes in on Mondays and Wednesdays and makes little comments if I haven't cleaned the house or done some task she thinks I should have time to do. When she asks, "What did you do today?" my skin crawls.

I knew my life was going to be different from most of my friends' and relatives'. And while these are only minor observations, I'm starting to realize how much.

2 comments:

Brian said...

What they're really saying is "I want a job where I can work in my pajamas if I want to," which you can when you're doing prep and such. At least I do. And I do it at midnight, if I feel like it.

The freedom is what makes it worthwhile to me, frankly. Sure, I could probably make more money doing something else--given what I make, I'd have to go into fast food to make less, it feels like. But I like having the summer break and the free schedule to write, so I drive a car built last century and live in an apartment.

kegill said...

LOL! I teach at the University of Washington (I'm from Georgia) and had not thought of my schedule's relation to UGA and VPI until this post!

I, too, am a night person -- but I have some faculty friends who aren't.

What your friends don't realize is that it takes a different form of discipline to manage time for thinking - reseaching - prep'ing ... than it does to show up for an 8-to-5 job.


Kathy

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...