I am depressed and more depressed since realizing I actually fell down on my Jazzfest job and did not even know it — when I blithely sprained my foot at the pool I was not even supposed to be there, I was supposed to be helping to prepare Jazzfest. Therefore I am telling my academic story more openly than I have here so far, and it is relieving me, so let’s go on and then I’ll jump on some things. Not literally, of course, since my foot is sprained, but I will get moving.
As we know, Wound One was a cluster bomb at and around my first job, Wound Two was Reeducation, Wound Three was staying in this industry out of guilt over what I could have contributed to it and nostalgia for what might have been, and Wound Four was continuing to stay after realizing this last move had been a false one. I sustained this wound because I was too much weakened from Wound Three To resist.
And so I came to this job, where I sustained Wound Five, namely, obedience to others (once again) on how to handle the situation we had then. My own recommendations were to teach the classes, do the service, and go — be at major research libraries most weekends, set your sights elsewhere, you have a great deal of experience and can do the rest of the job efficiently, turn your mind where it likes to be and go. My colleagues did not agree.
And I obeyed, because I had learned in my first job that you must obey. I got caught in administration and service. I might have resisted this but it was how things had been set up by the men in charge at the time, and remember, in my world disobedience means physical and psychic death; death is a situation in which you cannot even freeze remnants of yourself for tomorrow.
So not resisting is my issue here, but then again it was a response to practical problems everyone else had, too. I remember thinking about it: if I do these tasks, it will take time and energy, but if I do not, the unresolved problems will take time and energy to navigate around. It seemed to us in that strange situation, that working to remove certain obstacles was more rational and would give us better practical results than ignoring them would.
And these obstacles have finally left. When I consider how much more depressed I was two springs ago than now, I am impressed with myself. But I am exhausted, and I would so have wished to spend all these efforts on other goals. And I still think the right academic path was a right place for me, and the wrong academic path was wrong, and there were other paths.
I feel guilty about, I suppose, my feeling of entitlement — the idea that one might as well enjoy life. I feel like a traitor — “immature” — demanding — unresigned, wanting to do something interesting as opposed to just any version of one thing. I learned that to be valid you must feel pain and sacrifice, and also that a theatre of pain and sacrifice was the only sure way to make a living.
When I say in real life that I would do real things to change many circumstances, or that I am in real pain and would rather not be, people have tended to think I am just having a tantrum or a bad day or fooling. That is a gender issue.
It was alleged in some venues that if we learned not to show any resistance at all, there would be less abuse. It was also alleged that there would never be more abuse than we could take, and that we would be well paid for it.
When people start to try to comfort me about being in academia, come now dear, you can make such great contributions, you are made for this, I feel it as blows just as strong as the blows of that other litany, you did a PhD even though you were told not to, you were warned.
That is not what is meant, of course. What is meant is that I would do much more than survive.