Overcommitment and the descent into madness

I’m at home for a few more hours before departing on a trip that involves Boston, Amsterdam, the Hague and Rome in five days, including two or three talks, several meetings and, I hope, some excellent food. While this trip takes me to the end of September, a month that’s featured an average of one public speech every five days, it begins phase two of autumnal insanity, a six week period in which I travel to and from Europe four times.

As I rapidly descend into madness, it’s reassuring to look back on my blog and discover that I’ve been here before. I started writing a story about the artist Jenny Holzer and how she managed to miss the entirety of autumn in the Berkshires and realized that I’d told the story here before, a year ago, as I wrestled with a crazy schedule last fall. Turning to my colleagues is reassuring as well: danah appear to be embarking on a conference season that’s even more action-packed than mine, with 13 talks in 12 cities in three countries. She, wisely, is announcing a period of hibernation after this speaking binge to finish her dissertation. That notion makes me want to enter a PhD program just so I could have an excuse to stop travelling for a bit.

I realize posts like this one generate no sympathy whatsoever. I’m incredibly lucky to have an employer that seems equally happy to see me in the office or read my blog from the road, and an unbelievably supportive, long-suffering spouse who not only tolerates my long absences, but encourages me to take advantage of the opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to stumble into. I write this in part as explanation for why I haven’t blogged some of the stories I’d love to report and written about others only cursorily. And as a reminder for myself, because as much as I’d like to change, there’s a good chance that I’ll be feeling this crazed again some point in the future and be grateful for the reminder that I’ve felt this way before and survived.

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5 Responses to Overcommitment and the descent into madness

  1. Rachel says:

    Not actually suffering, I promise. :-)

    Though I am vaguely envious of the chance to eat good Italian food in Rome…

  2. Kate says:

    Thank you for a quiet and envigorating place to be this weekend. I’ll be thinking of you over the next couple of weeks!

  3. Mary says:

    I’ve felt so busy since I began grad school that I’ve felt overwhelmed too, but to me, you are a rationale for busy-ness.

    In the middle of the storm it may look chaotic, but from the outside, from my perspective, I see all the wonderful things you are doing with every minute of your day – and it is inspiring. I guess that’s what it means to live a public life.

  4. Bev Clark says:

    Hey Ethan,

    Add to the insanity and come back to Zimbabwe. There’s some food left (in restaurants) – we’ll take you out!

  5. zephoria says:

    ::snuggle::snuggle:: You can create artificial reasons for hibernation. The annual Sanitas Festum. More than anything, it’s about blocking out a period of time in your calendar and saying No No No No over and over again. Of course, that word’s hard. There was a period a few years ago when I needed to practice. So I created a different email account, put in a signature saying that I was “danah’s secretary” and told whoever wrote that she was not available during that period. It was easier to say no in the third person.

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