Sunday, March 22, 2015

March Madness

You want to talk madness. March is madness. Last week rendered me nearly unrecognizable.

Fig. 1. Professor Whitehead a la the end-of-March.
Of particular note is the thinning hair, the paranoid visage, and lips that have morphed into zippers.

I've only been on the job for two and some years, so it's hard to draw any firm conclusions. But March seems like its the Grand Beast of the year. We've been in-semester for 7 months with only winter "break" to give us "respite". Where "respite" is defined as a chance to travel to multiple states/countries on a quest to make up for all of the time you didn't spend with your and/or your spouse's family in the last 12 years. Put briefly: we are tired.

We're coming around a bend, though. We just interviewed our last faculty candidate, and we have only a couple of seminar visitors left. I teach my last class 38 days from today. Then, Professor Whitehead is out for the summer and ZOMG she is going to do All of the Science and grow amazing things in the garden. This year, I'll be growing crazy a** fruit-berry things, including Naranjilla, from the northwestern part of South America.

Fig. 2. The Naranjilla, aka Solanum quitoense, is neither a tomato nor a berry. Discuss. This plant gets inch long red thorns, which is awesome.


All of the madness and the belly-aching about the madness gives me pause, though. Sometimes I feel like I'm caught in this trap where I'm always looking forward to something in the not-so-distant future. I'll feel better once the big presentation is over, or once I get that grant submitted. But after two years of doing this job, it's become clear that this is life. All of these passing phases are not a passing phase. These phases, this job, is a privilege. We get to do many things. And perhaps it's time to start enjoying it for what it is when it is it.

March is mad because the university is teeming with life. Undergrads are clamoring to find positions for the summer, seminar speakers talk about inspired science, grad students are defending, and we get to consider new faculty members and all of the vision and new directions they might bring to our department in the years to come. We've worked hard for the past seven months to make March mad. So maybe I should savor it while I can, before my weird summer berries take over the garden.