Archivy etc.

opinions, occasional rants, and sometimes things that have nothing to do with archives at all. Nothing here should be assumed to be reflective of my employer's opinion(s) nor should it be assumed that at anytime afterward, this is what I still think.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Lead by example

In my other blog on archival job hunting, I think I said something about trying to get a good night's sleep before an interview.

Knowing, of course, how ridiculous that really is. I'm not very good at doing that myself.

But here's the kicker. In early October, I'm teaching a two-day workshop on archival job hunting sponsored by Northwest Archivists and held at the Oregon Historical Society. How cool is that? It's inexpensive too, so go check out the NWA site and register early and often.

And normally, I'd say teaching a workshop is just exactly like going on an interview: you're going to be meeting many people you don't know and attempting to convince them that you do indeed know important things and can be of service to them in the sharing of that knowledge or skills. So theoretically, I should be aiming for a good night's sleep beforehand, right?

Sure. And I figured, no problem. Okay, so the workshop is Thursday and Friday and I have a meeting in Anchorage from 10 am to 1 pm on Wednesday that I cannot skip for any reason, but how hard will it be to get an evening flight out to Portland from Anchorage?

Apparently it's unreasonable. And by that, I mean cost-wise. Part of what is going on with the workshop is that this is a pilot project for mid-year continuing education for NWA and we're trying to see if NWA sponsored local education can be done on a cost recovery basis. Well, I have friends in Portland who can offer me crash space (thank you!) and to keep it green I'm not planning to do any handouts other than electronic, and if we make the lunches either brown bag or on your own, the only real cost is my transportation to Portland. So my deal with NWA is that they cover my plane fare, which I promised would be less than $600 (and before y'all panic, sorry, but that is what it typically costs me these days to get out of AK) and we'd re-earn that from registration fees. And to be honest, if we don't get enough registrations to quite make that, I'll cover the rest myself. I really, really, really want to do this workshop.

At any rate, about 2 months ago, I started hitting up the airline websites. Guess what? I can't get an evening flight into Portland that Wednesday night for less than $800. I'm still shaking my head about that, but Alaskan travelers know the score and the reality is, red-eyes are always cheaper. So in order to make that self-imposed cost restriction, I'm taking a red eye flight. Leaving ANC about 1 am, getting into Portland at 5:30 am. The very morning of the first day of the workshop.

The good news is I can sleep on planes and chances are I'll be able to do some napping between my daytime meeting on Weds and the time when I have to leave for the airport. And the ever-wonderful Diana Banning has volunteered to fetch me at the airport at Stupid O'Clock and take me out to for breakfast where I can attempt to ingest as much caffeine as humanly possible in order to make it through the day. I might not be the most human of beings at 6:30 pm that Thursday, but I'm pretty sure I can make it through the first day of the workshop and still be presentable and do a good job. Which, of course, will be exactly the opposite of what I will be advising workshop attendees: which is that they should never do this. So even if it all goes awry and I end up getting a little loopy from sleep deprivation at some point during the day, I can just point to that as the proof for why you should do everything you can to get a good night's sleep before so important an event as an interview.

It could be worse. Way back in undergrad, when I'd procrastinated so badly that I had to pull an all-nighter to do a paper or study for a test, I used to have this, well, treatment, for lack of a better word. Ready for this? I'd stay up all night and then about 6 am I'd run to the grocery store and pick up a 6-pack of Coke and a package of Oreos. And that's all I'd eat, all day. (Are you freaking out yet?) I'd be wired for bear all day long, get through it, the caffeine would finally dispel about 10 pm that night when I'd crash, badly, and wake up fine the next morning.

Do NOT do this at home. Honestly, some days I'm amazed I'm still alive and in good health. And I look back now and wonder how, so hyped up on caffeine and sugar and chocolate, that I could possibly not have been a danger to myself and others, especially since the vehicle I was driving back then was a rather ancient Ford Pinto. I'd also like to point out that I tried this once in grad school in my late 20s. It didn't work. All I did was make myself incredibly sick and I fell asleep anyhow. One of the benefits to the wisdom and stamina that purportedly comes with age is that I can often soldier through the sleep deprivation for the period of time I need to do so (especially when it's less than a day or two), recognize if I'm getting loopy, and take steps to counteract that or at least reduce the visible evidence of loopiness. Massive preparation is going to be the key to that one, here, and I'll be doing that massive preparation.

But I'll confess. I'm still a little worried about that Thursday night. See, at least 2 of our Portland colleagues have offered me crash space and in order to make this a true test of the costs, I had hoped to take one of them up on it. But really, I'm not sure that can happen. Because not only am I going to be exhausted, but I'd assumed that I was going to be taking a lot of homework home from the workshop from attendees that I could hand back to them the next day as feedback. So sleep-deprived me plus tons of homework plus really cool Portland colleagues who are so much fun I'm not going to be inclined to either sleep or review homework and that just looks like a recipe for disaster, not so dissimilar to the Coke/Oreos combination.

I'd thought about taking this to a survey to see what the readership thought: go for the crash space or just buy a hotel room for that night, but then I remembered. See, I only got about 4 hours sleep last night. I'm thinking the whole democracy thing might just be a product of sleep deprivation and one of those cues that I'm probably now not entirely in my right mind. So I guess I'll wait on that decision til I've caught up on some sleep. Which won't be for the next couple of weeks since I'm about to head out for a family visit and then SAA and if there's a place more likely than SAA for me to end up talking shop with colleagues til the wee hours, I haven't yet found it.

Knowing what my dance card looks like for the next few weeks? It's a very good thing I can sleep on planes. It may be the only sleep I get.  Good thing I don't have a job interview coming up.

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