I cannot take a breath. I felt triumphant last night, feeling like I could take a day or two to feel on top of things, planning to chunk through the last of the reading notes for the SF class tomorrow morning before class--and when I went down to the main office to schedule a room for a subcommittee meeting, I suddenly remembered: promotion applications are in and need review. And there are a number of them. And they're huge. HUUUUGE.
Bugger me sideways.
I'm also feeling more than a little pissed off about the committee I got roped into co-chairing. I was asked to take on the task because the woman who has been chairing the subcommittee wanted to step down, and the woman who'd been her vice chair is applying for full professor so didn't want to take on the chairship solo. However, I know absolutely bubkes about the politics of what's going on--and there is a lot going on in other committees that has an impact on what we do and how--so on the one hand, I'm under some pressure to keep the ball rolling, but I keep being told not to do anything because some political discussion or wrangling or whatever is going on elsewhere. I feel I'm in an impossible situation, and if I can't get a handle on things soon, I'm going to be very very very tempted to bail on the whole thing: co-chair, subcommittee, committee...
But I did just check my e-mail (I can't even remember now what it was I thought I needed to take care of right away), and there was a nice message from the previous chair of the subcommittee, offering to talk with me; I'd expressed my frustration to her, so I'm grateful she's reaching out with some support. She and I were in the Active Learning Seminar together, a million years ago when I was a lowly instructor (and when this campus supported such things), so we have a little bit of a personal relationship to lean on.
On the other hand, calling her is one more thing I have to do. I almost tore Paul's head off when he suggested that the easiest way to deal with my book orders might be to go to the bookstore and talk to the staff there. I have no time to go anywhere or talk to anyone about anything.
I'm truly feeling more overwhelmed than I can remember feeling for a long time. I don't know whether the load is really that much more than usual or if I'm just my reactive to it, but I catch myself feeling like I can't breathe. And I have to remind myself that all of this is of my own manufacture. I am not a helpless victim of circumstances here: I am in charge of what happens, when, and how I handle it. And even if I can't control all of what happens and when, I can definitely work to control how I handle it.
For instance, when I think about how today went, my mind immediately wants to project into how awful it's going to be to get hit with the next round of essays from the students in the 102s... but I was just telling Paul how important it is to stay in the present moment.
Do I have any of those essays right now?
So, can I do anything about grading them right now?
So why worry about them? They're in the future. The future is only something I imagine--and my imagination may be way off. I won't lose my grip on reality and think that the essays are miraculously going to be wonderful, but I'm certainly over-dramatizing how difficult it will be to grade them.
This too shall pass. If I'm screwed, it's only temporary. None of this will last--and I often get moments of respite when I least expect them. This is one of those times when it's important for me to remind myself that I can punt a lot more than I usually allow myself--and still be perfectly fine at doing my job. I don't have to be super-excellent: I can just be good enough for right now. I've already alerted P&B that I won't have the promo folders read by our meeting; I can still mark the SF reading notes before I get the essays from the 102s (I have Tuesday after P&B, and Wednesday in Advisement). And anything else will get taken care of when I can manage it.
All that matters is that I keep my priorities at least somewhat straight. I don't prioritize myself quite as much as I need to, but I can prioritize my work: classes come first. Department obligations come second. College-wide committees a distant third. Anything else is an also ran.
I will get everything done that needs to be done, which includes having the realization that some things don't need to be done.
For now, my brain is toast. (This is your brain. This is your brain on too much work. This is your brain scrambled on toast, with a nice cup of coffee.) Tomorrow will take care of itself.