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.


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.

Anonymous 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.


Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...