So in the last post I mentioned that the search string ~ pending decision insanity ~ would pull up my brain were my brain googlable. By that I meant that lots of decisions affecting my professional life are pending, and it's a-driving me a-crazy. Academia, of course, loves The Wait.
And like no other profession, except maybe the Supreme Court, The Wait goes on. It's starting to make sense to me why professors and supreme court justices enjoy the longest life span (statistically) of any other professions in the U.S. We're in such a habit of waiting, why not wait--just a little bit longer--to die?
My awareness of The Wait started back in 1997 when I submitted my first manuscript to a journal. Five months later I sent a shy query only to find that one of the readers claimed she'd never received it, and so the editors had to send it back out. Having since discovered that this story is utterly commonplace in the profession, I now know that Manuscript Waits can at worst take the better part of the year; at best, they only seem like it.
Then there's the Live Wait. Any of you who hold PhDs or are A.B.D. know what I'm talking about. I remember all too clearly the seemingly protracted period of time I spent in a wee vestibule with 10 of my closest friends in January 2000 waiting for my dissertation committee to deliberate over my just-completed defense. That vestibule was also the place where the defense hosting-professor kept the family hats, and so my friends and I spent the time trying on hats and distracting each other from the potential gravity of The Wait. And that's really what we do: we manage waiting.
Wait management is of course the flip side of the point made by the ever-brilliant Evan Watkins (in Work Time) about our work mostly involving the circulation/conferral of value. The longer we're in this profession, the more responsibility we have in conferring value (passing folks on their exams, approving dissertations, writing rec letters, reviewing for tenure, handing out awards), but the flip side of that is those with less accumulated time experience The Waits with more frequency, and arguably, more duration.
I'm waiting for about three things at the moment. The one that bears the most weight, and the one that I should hear about any minute now, is the Tenure Decision. Despite the frequent calls to perform my anxiety on this front, I haven't been terribly anxious about the TD. I've not been cavalier either--don't believe in tempting fate that way--but I've done my work; the Executive Committee waved me through (that's the big one), etc. And yet now that the actual TD--meaning the phone call followed by documentation--is due any day now, I am getting a little anxious. Colleagues who came in a year behind me are already preparing their tenure documents, only to have to wait more than a year for the decision.
At lunch with colleagues today I asked if they thought the new provost (new as in been on campus less than a month) was holding things up, and both my senior colleagues affirmed yes, that's likely. One dear colleague helpfully told me "one year people didn't hear til May 10." To which I responded, a little too quickly perhaps, "It's past May 10." Granted, it's May 11, but still.
I prepare for my RSA Seminar. I throw the frisbee for Tillie. I watch my lettuce grow. I blog about my sinuses. I try on hats. I try to ignore the fancy bottle of wine on our wine rack, waiting.