Let’s be honest, you realized long ago that you were going to end up like your parents. As much as you deny it in adolescence, and fight it in your twenties, at some point you realize the apparent 5 stages of grief, and you slip into acceptance like a warm, nostalgia-flavored bath.
This is likely true for budding academics as well. We graduate students think we will be nothing like our professors. I say we should learn from their behavior; analyze them in their natural environment. That said, I have gathered here 5 models of academic summer behavior , drawn from academics’ actual answers to the question, “what are your summer plans?”–care of The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Online Forums.
Please sit back, relax, and project yourself into each of these paradigms as you drink alone and wonder what kind of professor you will be in twenty years.
1) Submit Rui Costa to another journal
2) Potentially revise any manuscripts that come back R&R (3 potentially) and/or make progress on two on-going projects
3) Write 11 chapters of interactive text for 303
4) Prep a semester’s worth of 404 online
5) Organize a research workshop (papers/proceedings)
6) Complete a triathlon
7) Swim and bike often
8) Tweak 202 online
9) Sew something, anything
10) Paint something, anything
11) Declutter master bedroom, dining and living rooms
12) Do something about the disaster area that is the sewing loft
13) Complete a first rough draft of Emmett
Name: I call this the “Summer-Maximization” model. It could also be called the, “Use up spare time with Crystal Methamphetamine” model.
I mean, come on, “Sew something, anything” and “Paint something, anything”?
“Write 11 chapters”? “Complete a triathlon”!?
Tweak 202, indeed.
Foreshadowing: this should make us think about the disappointment inherent in over-planning our free time (a concern listed frequently in the CoHE forums). And, yes, this clearly proves that coffee is a gateway drug.
1. Finish the book that I got the contract for
2. No summer teaching for first time in six years
3. swim in our new pool
4. decide if I still want to be married to my husband (does anybody know if there’s a thread on academics who are married to non-academics? My husband thinks I’m boring because all I care about is my work . . .
5. prepare tenure file
6. actively parent
Name: “Priority Disequilibrium” model.
Once externalities arise in our personal lives (due to the demands of our professional lives), it is high time to stop what we’re doing and re-arrange our priorities.
That probably starts with putting parenting and divorce in your top 3. At least above swimming.
Foreshadowing: I was told early on by a helpful professor that graduate school was a ‘selfish endeavor’ and that he ‘knew only one couple that made it through the process’. Fair enough. A model like this is in disequilibrium and will find a new state eventually; one that depends on what we do with something like, I don’t know, a summer that has no teaching for the first time in six years.
After finals and assessment, I plan on becoming a hermit.
I do not want to see people, hear people, or talk to people. The email will be set on “out of office”. I will catch up on the sleep that I am sorely lacking, give the house a thorough cleaning, and commune with the cats and associated wildlife. There will be many margaritas involved. After a couple weeks I might be fit to be in society again.
Sigh. Why can’t summer start now?
Name: “Pull a JD Salinger” model.
Full disclosure: this was pretty much my M.O. last summer. But mine was less social-aversion and more to do with finding the ‘will-to-shower’ again.
Either way, I warn strongly against including a ‘commune with the cats’ and ‘margaritas’. That life path does not end by fall semester.
Foreshadowing: clearly this model of behavior is dependent upon the masochism you accrue during the two semesters proceeding summer. If you choose to pack in the extra classes and research projects, then you’d better make sure your future cat commune won’t charge rent for a few weeks each year.
I have lots of exciting summer plans, but I cannot discuss them; they are Top Secret.
Name: “Pentagon Grant Researcher” or “Full-Blown Schizophrenia”
Here’s a case of an academic who has finally received a big government grant to study that airborne virus s/he’s been writing about for a decade… or someone whose busy finals schedule conflicted with their lithium prescription schedule.
Foreshadowing: this model shows signs of perceived grandeur, a common affliction among over-worked, over-educated academics. Just keep in mind: the government frowns upon telling everyone that you can’t tell anyone anything about something–regardless if its because of a big grant.
Name: “Land Unlocked” model.
There is no specific quote for this model. There is only a statistic:
about 38% of all entries in this forum contained the word(s) “boat”, “canoe”, or “kayak”.
There are an incredible amount of academics interested in and excited about being out on the water, frequently with friends and family.
One even spoke of having a memorial for a beloved friend who had recently passed.
Foreshadowing: books and kindles don’t fare so well in the hull of a kayak, but friends and coolers full of beer appear to do just fine. This is a model worth imitation in the future and one that inspires some hope for an academic life that enjoys both peace and people.
Now I need to get home… I’d hate for my wife to realize that I had been blogging for the past two hours.