A week or two ago now, my friend Susan (hi Susan!) was talking on effbee about how many academics talk about "my work" so that the work is research, and doesn't include all the other sorts of work. Susan argued, effectively, I think, that we should talk about "my research" to talk about the research part, and use "my work" much more inclusively of all the work we do.
I was working on a project today. There are, say, 15 individual parts for the project, and each part includes two separate steps, and then a meeting, and then at the meeting we'll split up the parts and each of us will take some of the parts and do another step, and then we'll have another meeting and bring all the steps and parts together. That's the idea, anyway.
Today I was working on the first step, and got the first step of 10 of the parts done in about 5 hours.
This project is very much my work, in that it's my responsibility, and I need to do it, and it's no one else's responsibility, and it needs to be done, and I get paid for it and so on.
But on another level, it's not very interesting or pleasurable, and the five hours I spent today, just working on the first step, was five hours I didn't spend feeling like I was on break or working on my SAA paper, on the other paper I need to work on, on my Chaucer course, or on doing something fun.
The SAA paper, my other paper, the Chaucer course, those would have felt more like work that has personal meaning to me. This work doesn't feel like that, and it requires real concentration. After five hours of serious concentration, I was mentally tired, but physically tired of sitting.
I expect to spend several more hours on the project finishing the first step either/and tomorrow or Friday. The next step I can't do until Monday, and has to be finished by Tuesday for the meeting.
All that other work, the SAA paper, the other paper, the Chaucer course, that work also has to get done, of course. And I have some important family responsibilities that must be done. And then there's the ear ringing. I saw a doctor at the clinic last week, and she said it was probably caused by hearing loss, and probably not a brain tumor. (May I add that even when preceded by "probably not," the words "brain tumor" aren't comforting to hear at a doctor's office.)
And now having skipped several years of medical stuff (because of my basically good health and the fact that the doctor I'd seen at the big clinic before had left the clinic, and I hadn't pursued finding a new one because it seems awkward to just make an appointment when nothing's wrong, if that makes sense), I've sort of got to do this "catch up" stuff. At least it feels like I have to do the catch up stuff in order to get attention to the ringing, which is what bothers me. So appointments are taking up time, and more than that, taking up energy as I worry about them, even if there's likely to be no reason to worry. (For example, I always, always feel like I'm a failure because I can't read the lines on eye charts without corrective lenses. Heck, I can't actually SEE the chart without corrective lenses. Logically, I know that's not a moral failing, but emotionally, I feel like a failure. I've been failing eye exams for more than 40 years.)
Tomorrow, I see an audiologist and an ear, nose, and throat specialist about the ear ringing. I'm trying to tell myself that if this is caused by hearing loss, and I can resolve it by wearing hearing aids, that will be just like wearing corrective lenses. But emotionally, I feel like it's somehow another failure on my part, like I've done wrong by listening to loud music and such.