Post Academic

The Best Kinds of Academic Snoozing

Posted in Absurdities by Arnold Pan on November 28, 2010
Tags: , ,

While tripping on Tryptophan after multiple turkey-based meals over Thanksgiving, I realized that familiar feeling I was feeling reminded me most of…snoozing in lecture.  There’s a reason why I was willing to overlook students sleeping in class even when I was a stickler for texting and YouTubing during my lectures: it’s not just that I remember dozing off while I was an undergrad or that a lot of the kids are taking a ton of classes and working too.  But deep down, I think I also appreciated that there’s a kind of deeply relaxing sleep you can only get when the lighting is right and you’re bored out of your mind.

"Louis & Chanel taking a nap" by Macphreak (Creative Commons license)

Here are some of the situations I found myself as a grad student where I liked to sneak a quick catnap:

Seminar: I know it’s shameless, but you know how hard it is to stay awake for three hours in the mid-afternoon, maybe after you’ve taught earlier in the day and/or been studying/prepping/grading all night.  I didn’t do it very often and I’m betting my profs saw it, since it’s not like you can hide in a group of twelve around a not-that-big table.  Most of the time stopped myself from indulging, though that neck-snapping whiplash-y thing — you know what I’m talking about, right? — is probably more conspicuous and distracting.

More below the fold…

Film screenings: As a humanities grad student, especially earlier in my career, I found myself going to a lot of artsy-fartsy chin-stroking film screenings.  Why?  They were kinda like social events, they were free, and you didn’t need to drive.  While I was mostly serious and earnest enough to try and watch the whole thing, it was hard not to doze off, especially after a long day or week of classes and the soothing darkness right after dinner.  And we were usually in a lecture hall watching these films, so it kinda replicated an in-class experience, just with more cushiony seats and more anonymity.  Plus, let’s be frank: Not to be a philistine, but a lot of the movies were conducive for dozing.  Except for Chelsea Girls: I caught a cold trying to keep up with that thing, until I just gave up.

Office hours: Wanna make use of the time you waste waiting for students you expect to come by, but never do?  Sure, you can try and get ahead of your reading/lesson planning/grading/writing/whatever.  But the reality of the situation is that you’ll probably spend the time surfing the Internet or grabbing a few zzz’s, especially if you have a comfy office chair.  In my case, I usually held office hours right after lunch, so it’s a natural to take a little siesta.  Actually, what you’re finding out is that basically any time from the early afternoon to after dinner is a good time for me to power nap.

Tutoring: OK, I admit that this is pretty flagrant, literally sleeping on the job.  I used to work a lot of study center and tutoring gigs, which usually took place after the end of the day, like late in the afternoon and before/after dinner.  I really didn’t want to tutor, but sometimes the money would be good and I’d feel obligated to the study center owner (especially when it was my aunt!).

But I got to the point when I felt I like I didn’t need to pay any more attention than the burned-out teens I tutored did, who obviously didn’t want to do any extra school work because they needed it the most.  Basically, it was a glorified babysitting gig, so I set things up so that the kids had to do some reading or some writing or something that didn’t require my active attention.  Then, I’d go to the other room and shut my eyes for as long as I could.  That was a pretty good deal, getting paid to sleep, which I justfied as “adjusting” my hourly rate so I’d get paid what I wanted to.

Anyway, gotta get ready for the last couch nap of Thanksgiving 2010…

2 Responses to 'The Best Kinds of Academic Snoozing'

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  1. Anthea said,

    Oh, I know that feeling well…and it’s even worse if you’re attending a conference which has potentially some really good papers but the speaker ahs a monotone voice! Ahhh

  2. Yes, there is something to the monotone, but movies were my favorite snooze-inducer. Sleeping students never bothered me as much as texting or Facebooking students. Given their overscheduled lives, I assumed sleeping students were just exhausted rather than deliberately being rude!

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