As a part of that world of academia, I am a member, as surely you are of your profession, of various organizations that host conferences, publish journals, and come up with useful, applicable ideas and plans for both the sub-specialty and the field at large.
There is one organization that I have been a member of for near a decade. I have published in their journal, I regularly review articles that are submitted to their journal, and I attend and speak at their conferences. But I’ve never thought to get involved at an administrative level, which would mean really immersing myself in the organization’s inner sanctum, and contributing to its welfare. Recently, however, the editor of the journal the Society hosts suggested I run for office this term. I thought about it. On the one hand, it meant committing time I can’t imagine I have, and attending the two major conferences a year, which can be pretty much anywhere in the country. On the other, this was the opportunity to participate in something I believe in and care about. I guess teaching at an Ivy League university, where everyone is earnestly involved up to their eyeballs influenced my decision: I looked around at my messy, messy house, took stock of the (virtual) stack of papers to comment on, pulled Baby MoFo up on my lap, and began to write my nomination statement.
“I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .”
Four nights later found me running through campus, wearing PJs, boots, and a jacket. No socks, no bra. It was 11:30 at night and I had not forgotten that stack of papers at school (it was virtual, after all), nor was I meeting with a student at that late hour. I had been lying in bed, about to drift off into unconsciousness, when my mind starting running through all matter of things:
1. I never did anything about that hunk of pasta sauce stuck in my engagement ring I noticed a few nights ago while I was on my way to parent-teacher interviews. I should probably stick it in the jewelry cleaner.
2. I forgot to pay for the Daddy-and-me Gymnastics night. Crap. Hope there’s still room.
3. I have to open blocks on my online calendar so the students can schedule their conferences since they begin in just a couple of days.
4. I should take my coat to the seamstress–the buttons look like they’re about to fall off.
5. I really have to start revising that article if I’m going to have it workshopped by my faculty peers next month. Which reminds me, I have to go to the library. They’re going to cancel my hold order again if I don’t pick up the books soon.
6. I should have loaded the dishwasher before bed. I’m going to regret that pile in the sink when I wake up.
7. Even the counter is cluttered with dishes. That must be unsanitary.
8. Were my rings sitting in that counter clutter? I don’t think I wore them all day.
9. I don’t think I wore my rings yesterday.
10. Have I seen my rings since I discovered the hunk of pasta sauce on them 3 days ago?
11. Yes, I did see my rings. I was playing with them while I was trying to revise my article in my office the other day, wasn’t I? Wasn’t that after the parent-teacher interview? But I wouldn’t have taken them off and left them at school, right?
12. WHERE ARE MY RINGS?
I jumped out of bed, went downstairs, looked in all the usual places: sitting on top of the microwave, on the kitchen counter, on the dining room table, on one of the bookshelves. Nada. I told myself to be calm and I did #6–loaded the dishwasher. That way, either I would have an empty counter and sink and also find my rings (could they have fallen in the sink? Could they have fallen down the drain?) or, at worst, I would have an empty counter and sink and one or two fewer things to worry about. I did my nice service for next-day me, but my heart started pounding harder as I put the last plate in the dishwasher: No rings. I took everything off the table. I pulled off the table cloth, checked it thoroughly and shook it out (not from the 21st floor–so my rings couldn’t have the adventure you must remember they had last year!). Nada. I picked loose Lego brick, pens, opened mail, DVDs, Wii games, and crumpled receipts off the bookshelves. Nada. Cleared the microwave surface of a bag of rice cakes, a container of Jane’s Krazy Salt, and The Scientist’s deodorant (huh?). Nada.
I finally decided I was driving myself crazy–that they were, of course, somewhere, and I went to bed again.
Once there, a rendition of Scarlett played through my head: “I can’t let [my rings] go [again]. I can’t. There must be some way to bring [them] back. Oh I can’t think about this now! I’ll go crazy if I do! I’ll think about it tomorrow. But I must think about it. I must think about it. What is there to do? What is there that matters?”
And so, near midnight, I was sprinting through the campus, hoping not to see my students, or rather, hoping they wouldn’t see me, and hoping, moreover, that I hadn’t been so stupid as to play with my rings in my office and then just leave them lying on my desk, and hoping, even more than that, that I had left my rings lying around on my desk or in my wastebasket or in my coffee mug or on my coat hook–anywhere, anywhere, that they could be found again.
I opened my office door.
I sorted through the papers and lifted my mug and looked in it and under it; I pushed books hither and thither; I checked my coat hook and wastebasket and recycling bin; and finally, deflated, I called The Scientist to say that they were gone–lost forever. As he answered the phone, I absentmindedly lifted up my keyboard. And underneath–
“They’re here! I didn’t lose them!!!”
I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .
Which is true, for the most part, and saved me over the next week, which is to say, this past week, during which time I taught my 2 classes twice; prepped for my classes; commented on 24 essays, which takes, according to our program’s requirements, about 36 hours; met with each of my students individually for 45 minutes, conferences scheduled around their busy lives, so that the 22 hours I was at or going to or returning from conferences included hours early in the morning and past 10:30pm; stayed home with my baby for the afternoon of President’s Day when there was (I was late to discover) no daycare; went to the dentist for a cleaning and a check-up; did my usual triple pick-up of the kids most days (and took them for frozen yogurt on the particularly warm day) as well as about half the drop-offs; made all three meals for everyone every day; took the baby to the doctor when the daycare sent him home (and said he couldn’t return) because he had pink eye; and all this, I should add, with no sleep since, in addition to pink eye, Baby MoFo also developed an ear infection –actually, a double-ear infection — this week, and he suffered all through the night.
I am organized, efficient, and capable . . .
But my house can often be a madhouse, and as a result, I might act as though I’ve been lobotomized . . .
Oh–but vote for me!!