Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Bad Boyfriend

I want you to know. I'm having an affair. My husband, innocently cutting up wood in his man shed (read cave) is aware of the situation, but there's nothing he can do. But before you text him, if you know him, or start giving us weird looks, stop. Because the affair is probably going to be lifelong, and it's with an academic discipline.

Crap metaphor? Maybe. Yet the more I think about it, the more this kind of archaeology seems like a bad boy lover, sometimes treating me like dirt (no pun intended), occasionally making me feel absolutely rubbish, yet still thrilling enough to keep me coming back for more. It's like a terrible, anti-feminist R and B song- I just keep on coming back to it. Of course, there's more to archaeology than just the world of universities- indeed, I have a great job outside of that world. Yet it's like the safe, funny, handsome alternative boyfriend who just can't compete with the dark glamour of the bad boy. I feel valued, appreciated for what I am, not just my research outputs, and I am (I guess) in a committed relationship with this kind of archaeology. Yet what am I doing, in my weekends and evenings, but working on publications, and thinking up new research projects? I'm playing away with that demanding, soul-destroying discipline, and I just can't seem to quit.

I've read a lot of blogs about being "post-ac" with people who are loud and proud about leaving academia behind. I don't feel like that at all- I just can't kick the habit. I would love to work in research in the future, and I'm full of energy and excitement for a new project that I'm developing- that first flush of love is in full flow all over again. Yes, I know it will result in heartache, agonising over applications, working my balls off to get a paper just right, worrying about datasets when normal, rational people are in bed sleeping the sleep of the just. Let alone the sodding referencing.

I know the risks- that so many get dumped for losing their academic figure after having children, or get left behind when the discipline moves on to something sexier and forgets about how exciting your specialism once was, no matter how much work you put in to get the spark back. The metaphor works right on to the end. And if a friend was in a relationship like this, I'd tell them to end it. They'd go "oooh but I looooove him" and I'd think they were wet. But I do love it, and I can't stop it now- I'm just not ready for the end of the affair.

Does anyone else feel like this? Husband just came in from the shed, read the first line of this blog post, went pale, then read the rest and looked at me like I was a crazy person. I really hope I'm not the only one still holding a torch for a discipline that I'm not sure loves us back.

PS- I actually don't want to post this now. I needed to write it but am very tempted to wuss out. Feeling brave, so fingers crossed, and on to the old publish button.