I woke up this morning in physical pain, not looking forward to the day, and had already started to yell at myself. “You should love yourself instead,” I said in my newfound skill, and I was therefore able to get up and make coffee. There is much I stopped doing for myself when psychotherapy told me I was not feeling enough of the pain I must have stored up. I lived much better in those innocent days, and I still want to recuperate more of that life.
What can I do for me today? RESEARCH is the answer every day, and it is the true answer. One needs research, exercise, sleep, recreation, a clean house and a lot of groceries … and good clothes, and moral support, and economic support, and an environment that is free of harrassment at least part of the time. But research is the answer, as it is the most sustaining activity available … despite the fact that living here in Maringouin my most spontaneous answer to the question is always apply to LSU law, or UCLA Near Eastern Studies.
Research, athletics, fresh air, hiking, camping, backpacking, kayaking. Research and writing, cinema, travel. Research and writing supported by recreational reading and exploration. Conversation with smart and energetic people who are doing things. These, but principally research, are the things I gave up to be an academic (and/or gave up for Reeducation), and it is having given them up that has me so depressed.
To me the academic life means writing without doing enough research, teaching without preparing enough, developing more and more avoidant behaviors because one is required to save time: time for bureaucracy and deprivation, exile and sacrifice, recrimination and sadness, evaluation and grading.
Some of those things are true because of what I keep saying about not working at an institution that can support a research program, but some of them are lessons I absorbed but that were not required–and are not required now. Deprivation, suffering, silence. I want to get away from academia because I want to get away from certain actual problems but also from the childhood pain I feel in it and transfer onto it. It is hurtful when people say that my leaving would be a betrayal of the field, or that I must just not be interested.