What’s Wrong with this Picture?

“What’s Wrong with this Picture?” is one in a continuing series of posts about academic life. Here, from Claire Potter’s wonderful blog for the Chronicle of Higher Education, is a description of the work life of a new, tenure track professor…somewhere in Missouri, we think. What’s wrong with this picture?

It was my dream to get a tenure-track job. However, I am only in my second year in a humanities department and my dream has become a nightmare. The semester is not even half over and I am exhausted. My classes are over enrolled by about fifteen students. I am behind on my grading: last week my students asked when they would get their papers back and I heard myself saying that I had left them on a bus and that the Transit Authority Lost and Found was closed for Rosh Hashanah. I barely have time to review the reading I have assigned my students. Confession? Sometimes I don’t even read it.

Every time I think I have protected a little free time someone schedules a meeting: worse, our university now uses Meeting Maker, so I get an email informing me that a meeting has already been scheduled and I am expected to attend. Not infrequently, I have already made a plan for that time — seeing a students, meeting with a colleague — and that something has to be rescheduled into whatever diminishing time is left in the week.

I don’t have time to go to the gym, or to pack my own lunch — two things I swore I would do this fall to maintain my mental health and not gain back the weight I lost over the summer. I see talks and events come and go and don’t do any of them because I am already scheduled to do something else or I am so tired all I want to do is go home. Worse, I have so much to do that I am not sleeping well and I forget things constantly. Keeping up with my writing? Ha! I have deadlines coming due that I can’t even imagine I will keep.

My partner, who moved with me so I could take this job, seems to think I’m not much fun either. Help!

Wow. What’s wrong with this picture?

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