I’m still here, but caught up in a million things. This is a strange time for me. Lots of endings, lots of transitions and I just feel completely disconnected. I have handed in my resignation, seen the last of my students through their dissertation defense, said goodbye to a close friend who is retiring and moving away and has been my main source of mentoring and sanity during these last few years. I feel calm but also completely adrift.

I keep forgetting dates and things I promised to do. It’s odd – I know what date it is, I know it’s the 9th of November, I know that it came after the 8th and comes before the 10th, but beyond that, the date has absolutely no meaning to me. It’s like my brain has no context in which to place the date. It used to be that the 9th of November meant I was about 2 weeks away from an upcoming conference and 1 week past a different conference that I sometimes attend. It is also one month after the 9th of October and depending on how much research got done between then and now, it was either a good month or a bad month – well, lets face it, my research was never enough, so it was pretty much always a bad month. Another bad month checked off on the tenure clock. And the relentless ticking of the tenure clock? It’s stopped – November 2007 is just November 2007, it’s not November, ‘5-years-after-you-got-your-PhD-and-nowhere-near-enough-publications’. Which had been preceded by eight years of November, ‘xx-years-into-your-PhD-and-still-no-phd’.

Time has been defined for so long by the short and long term academic cycle, and without it, my brain seems to have no way of giving time context. It’s as if the part of my brain that says ‘Hmm, Nov 9th, here are the things I have always thrown up into your conscious brain’ has been fried. So, now I know exactly what day it is, but forget that it means that it’s my mothers birthday, or the day I have a doctors appointment, or a vet appointment. I forget that Nov 9th is Diwali (Happy Diwali!!). The list is endless – lets just say that if you know me in real life, you’ve probably learnt not to expect too much of me.

Strangely, it’s not as scary as it sounds – probably because I really am unplugging from academia. The ease with which I find myself in this unplugged state suggests that my brain was going to be there anyway. I shudder to think what would have happened if I weren’t actually moving on. There are times that I worry that I will remain like this. That without the structure of academia I’m never going to plug back into anything. I’ve decided not to worry about that for now – I suspect it’s just another irrational fear – one of the many that strikes anyone who decides to make a change after devoting a lot of time and energy to one particular path. I’ll worry three months from now, if I’m still like this.

Advertisements