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"...another reason I'm intrigued with the hanged of Salem, especially the women, is that a number of them aroused suspicion in the first place because they were financially independent, or sharp-tongued, or kept to themselves. In other words, they were killed off for the same sort of life I live right now but with longer skirts and fewer cable channels." Sarah Vowell, The partly cloudy patriot.


Whining and more whining

I will likely be whining here on this blog for a couple weeks. Please don't try to get me to see the bright side or suggest things I could do to change things. For the next couple of weeks, all of my energy is going into the dissertation. I have to whine/vent to get it out so I can go back to focusing. I am exhausted and with absolutely no reserves. I am almost always on the verge of tears, I am hypersensitive, I am overwhelmed, and completely unable to deal with people and social interactions that are not supportive. Some of this is also due to impending anniversaries (9.11, dad's death, dad's bday, cousin's suicide - all in the next two weeks. yee haw).

Empathy and sympathy are exceptionally welcome.

Today was a bad dissertation day. I feel unsure as to where I am with it - am I close to being able to send it to the committee, or not? One minute, it is feeling good and as though it is coming together - the next I feel like it is a disaster and it will fail. One minute I feel like my advisor is seeming more positive, and the next minute either I will get feedback that shatters that, or I will get hung up on some small piece of her feedback that I cannot get out of my head and that convinces me that this whole thing is doomed.

I don't know how to get it to the point where she thinks it is "good enough" and I am terrified it will never really be good enough for her.

This morning, I needed to shorten and focus the intro - which she had previously called superficial. I don't know what the midpoint is with her. And I tried to figure out a recode of the data that she had suggested - and sent the ida to her, and she told me it was too complicated and suggested something that didn't even address her initial concern.

I feel like I am on a procrustean bed.

The person for whom I am ta'ing this semester is driving me nuts. He has never taught this class before. Fine. I haven't either - though I taught a similar class. He seems to want to make every fricking little thing democratic - and we, the tas, are mostly revolting. We really really don't have the time or energy to give input into every single facet of the course. We have tons of grading and labs to teach - that's enough. But he wants to know exactly when he should teach X and Y. The fricking syllabus is only halfway done - and class has been in session for a couple weeks now!!!

He wants us to write the assignment descriptions up for him and the grading rubrics. We don't want to. I said to another TA afterwards, "I need for someone in this group to be the adult, and it can't be one of us TAs!" I need him to take charge and make decisions. We can give input, yes, but we are not co-teachers. We are very very stressed out TAs who really don't want to hear that you didn't get much sleep last night - that is a way of life for us right now.

When I teach, I invite my tas to give me feedback about any part of the course they want - but I don't require them to, and I don't need them to - I can still get things done. I have access to many resources - and I am willing to experiment and fail - and I am willing to make decisions and to make changes as needed. I am in charge, and I am open. Both can coexist.

I also cannot take taing for someone who is insecure and who expects us to take care of them. After the first lecture, he asked if we thought he did okay. Sadly, he was so boring and self-conscious class was horrific. I had trouble paying attention - and that never ever happens.

I just don't have the patience to handhold. I am a ta - I am not the prof. I just want to sit back and ta. I will do my best to do a great job in my lab sections, and I will grade well - but I need to focus on the dissertation. That is my priority.

Then in the class I am taking (that I guess I am not dropping), I worried my annoyance with my ta meeting would cause me to be oppositional in class - yet somehow I just became giddy and almost like the class clown. It's exhausting to be me sometimes.

Class was fine - boring and there wasn't enough conversation to engage - but it was fine. But, things turned very bad. I made a comment in class that I can't really explain otherwise you will know the topic of the class - but maybe it wasn't completely thought through - but it is something I think is important to consider. When I made it the chick who frustrated me last week literally attacked me and told me I was wrong and that that wasn't the way it was at all. She made it seem as though I was blaming and insensitive because of my comment. But in fact had she or the prof asked me what I meant, they would see that it was just because I have a different focus. I am a shrink - I see things differently than someone from a different discipline - and both perspectives can coexist.

I felt frustrated afterwards - I mean, how can she just assume she knows the truth about this issue? How can she just assume there is one truth? How can she assume that she knows so much more about the topic than I do? She may - but I don't appreciate the assumption.

Sometimes I think that being a shrink gives me a deeper, more complicated, perspective on things. Things aren't as easy as they seem. People have very complex motivations for things - no one is all good or all bad. It is far far more complicated than that. And seeing someone as all good or all bad removes a lot of control and power in ways that I find unhelpful. Even if I have a client (adult) whose life has sucked in a way no one can imagine - they still have power and control - even if it doesn't feel that way.

It's not helpful in therapy to think otherwise because then you lose the client's agency and the ability to make changes. I fully believe that it is important - in a non-blaming way - to help people see that they have the power to affect change in even horrific events (not past ones, per se, but current ones).

And not only am I a shrink, I know the research, I worked in community agencies that served the population we are studying in this class, and I have my own life experiences on which to draw. I'm not exacly unfamiliar with the issues, and I really resent the implication that I am.

Somehow in the next week I have to come up with a paper topic for this damned class. I really want to figure out how to relate it to my diss - but right now, I do not have a single solitary idea that relates to it. I am spent.


At 10:57 PM, Blogger Lucy said...

*hugs* I wish I could send you some extra time and energy to help you get through the next couple of weeks.

At 11:24 PM, Blogger RLT said...

Honey, you just vent and wallow as much as you like. Because, you know what? Just writing it out and knowing that it will be read helps get it out of your head. We can say things over and over to ourselves, but that doesn't really help. And we often don't feel like we can keep making people listen to us bitch about the same thing too many times. But, here? Just get it all out. Say everything that you can't actually say irl, or you didn't think to say at the time. Be as vicious as you like or as weepy as you like. We are firmly behind you no matter what.

At 7:54 AM, Blogger BrightStar said...

"People have very complex motivations for things - no one is all good or all bad."

I really like the point you're making here. I totally agree with this. I think it's great that you have this point of view, especially in the line of work that you're in.

I know that the times coming up for you will be difficult ones. I will be thinking about you. I'm sorry that so many painful anniversaries are coming up for you at once. Any one of those is difficult.

At 4:30 PM, Blogger RussianViolets said...

Whine away, Shrinky. I have a feeling that my blog will be displaying similar characteristics in the next few weeks. :-)

At 1:31 AM, Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

Aw, shrinky, I'm sorry things suck so much right now. Good luck getting through it. And the prof you're TAing for? Yes, that's totally inappropriate! It's his course to plan - you're assistants, not (like you said) co-teachers. He *does* need to decide what you're doing. That really sucks. Take care of yourself!


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