Writing left handed

Somebody Needs an “Off” Switch

Here’s the problem with me: I’m constantly on.  I don’t mean turned on, I mean just on, as in I’m always thinking about my next project, planning my next article, or the plotting my next trip abroad.

I didn’t realize quite how bad I’d gotten until my senior year of college, which is when I was a dating a man twelve years my senior who lived off campus.  (Scandalous, I know.)

“What are you doing?” he asked as we slipped into bed one night.

Doing?  I wasn’t doing anything.

“Nothing,” I informed him.  “I’m going to sleep.”

“No you’re not.  You’re feet are moving.”

“No they’re not.”

“Yes they are.”

This went on for some time until I finally realized what he was talking about: my feet were moving.  I was running choreography in my head.

I’ve since tried to curb my nocturnal rehearsal habits but I continue to pride myself on my ability to multitask, which might explain why I spent a good portion of last week’s CORD/SEM conference scoping out the male conference attendees and trying to convince my former classmate and partner in crime to drop out of the CORD (where its mostly women) and join the SEM with me instead (“Look at all these male ethnomusicologists!!!”)

When I finished presenting my paper on Friday morning, a rather nice looking man seated in the center of the room raised his hand to ask a question.  I braced myself (post-paper questions are always tricky) but the moment he opened his mouth, I realized he wasn’t trying to trip me up.

In fact, the longer he spoke, the more I began to think that he was perhaps trying to pick me up.

I listened to his question (it was something about teaching young children to replicate rhythmic patterns) but being the expert in multi-tasking that I am, I also zeroed in on his hands— his left hand in particular— and upon ascertaining that his ring finger was naked as a jaybird, I proceeded to perk right up, flash him a smile and answer his question.

At the end of the session, I allowed him to “corner” me and assured him that I didn’t mind him “monopolizing” my time with the rest of his “questions.”  (It was an academic conference after all.)

When it became clear that the next speakers were on their way in and that we, therefore, had to make our way out, I said in my very best I’ve-been-on-75-dates-in-the-past-year-voice, “We’ll have to continue this conversation later—perhaps we can grab a bite sometime over the weekend?”

It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted to add another man into the mix—my love life is complicated enough already—but I couldn’t help myself.

By the end of the conference, I’d given my card to four different men (it probably didn’t help that my former fieldwork professor was egging me on the whole time).

I think I have a problem.

14 Responses to “Somebody Needs an “Off” Switch”

  1. Zak

    Or how about, you’re a woman in search of a “solution?”

    I think you are a perfectly normal – no, extraordinarily awesome – woman and I think you shouldn’t settle for anyone less than you in the “always on” respect. It just means you’re high-functioning.

  2. Debbie

    I must admit that attending a conference with you gave new meaning to “academic research”! I was mightely impressed and WILL sign up for SEM if you agree to be my dating coach. But if we are serious about this, I think we need to do some research about conferences in fields of study outside the realm of ethnography. A medical, legal, or other lucrative field might also be something to consider…

    • Zak

      Engineers. We may be dorky (okay, we are), but we make decent money, can fix things around the house, like to do your taxes, and most of all, we’re normal (-ish).

      I keep telling my single engineering friends to volunteer at schools to meet women. I could suggest to women to voluneteer at engineering things/science fairs.

    • Kat Richter

      HAHA– totally! Debbie, I’ll have to see what sort of conferences are coming through Philadelphia and we can just park ourselves in the bar. (Niche markets, you know? LOL!)

  3. Philly Tap Teaser

    My college roommate bought me a book my senior year of college entitled “The Art of Doing Nothing.” It wasn’t a joke–she thought I had a hyperactivity problem and needed help. 🙂 I know I still do, although I don’t think being a high achiever is a bad thing. Go ahead with your bad self! My kiddies have slowed me down in a really good way and only they taught me the fine and fabulous art of “doing nothing.” 🙂

    • Kat Richter

      Hmmm… do you still have a copy lying around? I came home and slept for two hours straight after our meeting today and I still feel as though I’m running on some half charged batteries 😦

  4. Lost in France

    I’m with Zak, if you are looking for a heavily male orientated field, then engineering is the way to go, especially it would seem the offshore industry.

  5. Jake Rupalanite

    It was a band I didn t discover until college and even begin to understand, analyze and realize the true worth until the last few years of my life.


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