Why am I shaving at the office and eating a snickers bar for breakfast?
The proximal causes are easy enough to identify. I couldn't shave at home, because I forgot to buy new razors, and I didn't eat breakfast because I had last minute grading.
One can also identify more distal causes. The amount of time one is expected to spend at work has been going up for 30 years. (I'm sure the supporting data for this is in Juliet Schor.) On top of that, the amount of time it takes to earn the title "good parent" has also been going up for about 30 years. (The supporting data is in...I dunno, Ann Crittenden?) The only thing that can give is the time you spend shaving and eating. Thus, we shave at the office and eat snickers bars.
There is also no room for error. If you take three days off to go to a funeral, there is no way to make up the time. You can't work on the weekend, because that is your time to do childcare. Events on your schedule are packed like dominoes.
And this is even true in the academy. People outside the academy always think that being a professor is a cushy job, with summers off and paid trips all over. I recently got in a flame war at Pharyngula with a guy named Bob Flynn about this. Really, though there is no more deadwood in the university than there is in any institution this size. And here in the world of contingent faculty--the visiting, the adjuncts, the gypsies, and temps--people are working their fucking asses off.
This doesn't quite answer my question, though. I want to know how I ended up here. Me, the guy who is well aware that this process is hapening. The guy who is aware of the alternatives to living this way. How do I get out of here--who can I blow off? My students? My research?