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Choosing where not to be

Posted by Melissa on September 23, 2011

This month’s Scientiae asks about choosing where not to be. Since the call was posted on August 30th, I’ve been noting times when I’ve had to make choices about when to be here and when to be there. Here are a few examples of the times when I’ve not been somewhere:

  • Not at department lunch because I’m at a mentoring event
  • Not at the Learning and Teaching Center lunch because I’m at physics table
  • Not at home on Saturday because I’m in lab dealing with power glitch problem
  • Not in my office working on a grant proposal because I’m at big research university using specialized instrumentation
  • Not at big research university using specialized instrumentation because I’m doing daycare pick-up/drop-off
  • Not home by toddler’s bedtime because I’m on campus for a kick-off dinner
  • Not on campus for a program welcome event because I’m home cooking dinner
  • Not at the strategic planning seminar because I’m at a department meeting
  • Not at a campus event because I’m working with a student

For all the flexibility of academic schedules, I’m always amazed at how many times there are multiple conflicting events/appointments on my calendar. On the worst day of here-or-there choices this month, I had four different times in one day where scheduling conflicts forced me to choose to not be somewhere. While I love what I do (the students, the teaching, the physics), I don’t love the barrage of demands on my time. With a toddler in the house, the phrase “Not here, (not there, not anywhere)” immediately brings to mind Green Eggs and Ham.  My apologies to Theodor Geisel.

I do not like it, Sam-I-am,
I do not like to-do list cram.
I do not like the need to rush.
I do not like the calendar crush.

There is but only one of me,
I can’t do more, oh don’t you see.
I cannot be both here and there,
I simply can’t be everywhere.

I do not like the work day creep.
I do not like the lack of sleep.
I do not like the constant juggle.
I do not like “do more” struggle.

Research students need a guide,
Committee work’s a rising tide,
Teaching prep can fill my day,
While at home, it’s toddler play.

I do not have sufficient hours
Or time-stretching superpowers.
I do not like to-do list cram,
I do not like it, Sam-I-am.


One Response to “Choosing where not to be”

  1. David Davis-Van Atta, '72 said

    Only quantum entities can be both here and there! In fact, I think, everywhere. Literally. They do just fine at it. They can’t help it. But for anything with a wave function, like us it’s a real killer!

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