Thursday, November 22, 2012

Big Thirsty: Thanksgiving?

(Yes, I successfully resisted the urge to call this a "Thanksgiving Thirsty," despite the alliteration.  I didn't want to give Cal a heart attack -- that would create bad Thanksgiving associations for his family in future years, and, besides, we need him.  Also, I realize that it isn't Thanksgiving everywhere).

Okay, I admit that I'm not entirely in the Thanksgiving mood.  It seems like I've got even more overdue papers to grade over the "holiday" than usual, and I need to finish up a freelance piece (which I agreed to do because my salary and my expenses just aren't matching up anymore), and I haven't worked on my original scholarly projects for weeks (actually, make that months).  Even though I've had several bits of good professional news in the last few months, I'm feeling more than   a bit trapped, and very tired.

But I do have things to be thankful for, starting with a  relatively-secure job that provides at least a base income and benefits, and is satisfying in many non-pecuniary ways (though frustrating in others).  That's more than many people, inside the academy or not, can say these days.  And I've got a roof over my head (and electricity, and internet, and no flood damage), and supportive friends and colleagues, and a family with whom I'll break bread tomorrow (and I think there are better than even odds the car will successfully make the 4-hour round trip after the most recent repair).  Even the ungraded papers range from mediocre to pretty good, and, somewhere back when I was not quite so exhausted, I enjoyed choosing the readings and designing the syllabi and assignments.

So, I'm wondering --

Q.  What are you grateful for, whether associated with your job or not?  What relieves the misery, if even for a moment?  Or, if everything is looking unbearably bleak, what would relieve the misery, if only you could find the time/afford it/avoid prosecution?

Answer (or ball me out for ruining the atmosphere by going all Pollyannaish, or whatever suits your fancy) in the comments below.


  1. Cats. Cats make everything better.

    A purring cat, a good book, a real wood fire and a beverage of your choice - and even the worst snowflakes are bearable for half an hour or so.

    Mind you, it would definitely be even better to BE the cat (a pampered domestic one, that is).

  2. Music. Music keeps me sane on my commutes and makes me smile even at the end of the most demanding days.

    Mind you, it would definitely be even better to BE the cat (singing and playing, that is).

  3. I am grateful for one of my classes this term that has truly been the Best. Class. Ever by any number of objective measures. They're great, and they remind me that when students put in the effort, this is a very worthwhile endeavor indeed.

  4. Safety.

    That I'm not worried about fundamental survival needs, or rockets falling on me.

    That my misery, and I have plenty of it, is all way higher on Maslow's hierarchy.

  5. That I get paid to stand in front of mostly-awake young people talking about interesting things, that I was born into at least a couple of Venn lobes of kinds of "privilege" and live somewhere that is peaceful and safe (in the global 'things are much worse in some other places' way that Alan suggests) so that I can do what I like doing, and that my colleagues are at least 80% sane and benign. And bourbon.

  6. I'm thankful that most of my students are respectful, appreciative, and actually show up to learn. Reading what a lot of what you write makes me realize how lucky I have it. (Yes, I have some of the same crap students you do too, but you seem to have more of them.)

  7. I don't think this article is Polyannish at all. Many days I feel blessed for the fact that I actually get paid to do something I really like, snowflakes notwithstanding.

  8. Books: piles and piles of books. I love 'em and couldn't live without 'em. They help me to escape the misery that crops up from time to time.

    Thanks for the reminder that we can leave the misery behind for a day to be thankful. :)

    I also have one class this quarter that is amazing. Despite one snowflake who has bugged me during break, the rest have been on track, have attended class, have participated, and have engaged in a way no other class has ever done. I love those kids and I love the class. I need to tell the that on Monday.

  9. Replies
    1. Oh, dear. Now I'm a bit flustered, and blushing. But thank you.

  10. I am thankful for my wonderful children, for being all around great most of the time, and for at least providing me with a distraction other times.

    Last year on Black Friday, my son made family history by getting arrested for shoplifting with a friend. Wowsers. Perhaps the worst thing to ever happen in our family, and for that I should be (and am) eternally grateful. But it is funny. He is a good kid. He made a bad mistake, and got caught, for all indications, the first time he tried this. Even that, my CM friends, was a distraction. And you know what-----I had a particularly great group of Comp I's at the time and I told them all about it, and heard lots of advice from the trenches.

    You know another thing I am grateful for? My students. My crazy, different from me and mine, trying to make it through their days students. I love them.....well I love lots of them. They make me crazy, and I hate some of them like hell, but I love many of them and I am grateful for a job which puts me in touch with people who are trying to make it, and giving me the chance to help them do it.