Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Almost-Random Non-Bullets of Crap: Mind Muddled Edition

Why am I up? Because I have a crazed one-year old who conked out at 8pm, then woke up to nurse at 3am -- and is now running around the house. Sigh.

I'm so ready for the semester to be over. There's only this week and next week, but I'd rather it were already over. I stand there in class and think: not only is the love affair over, but I hate them and they hate me and we're done, done with each other. My classes suck, I suck, and they suck. None of us wants to be here. Enough already.

The search committee I'm on has been driving me crazy. We got almost 200 applications for one job. All of these people with incredible qualifications and exciting research agendas and publications all looking for a job. I have a job. It hardly seems right. (I'm not complaining.) Now, really only 40 of those met the qualifications clearly listed in the ad. Since we're bound, as I believe most are, to evaluate people on how they meet the job ad, it is just ridiculous that only 1/5 of people who apply actually meet the ad. What are the other 4/5ths thinking? But really the sc is driving me nuts because of the leadership -- we are told what kind of short list to develop, then we're told to do something different in the meetings, basically nullifying a bunch of painstaking work we undertook. I can't take it anymore. I've got a short list that actually has fewer than the requisite names, but they are the only ones I feel good about putting on a short list. And I don't mean to be obstinate or a pain in the butt so early in my career here, but I've worked very hard reading these applications and evaluating what I see there -- and I'm done. I'm just done. I'm not going into another meeting to find that the terms of the game have changed again. Not only is this troublesome leadership, but when we have so much to do and we all would rather be focusing on the holidays and finishing up, it's just. . .rude.

One of the things I've learned in this process is what I think is important in a colleague at this university and what I think, so far, it takes to succeed here. Now, of course, I am new, but I think it's very important to be a reflective teacher who talks with others about teaching beyond complaining or looking for teaching recipes. I want at least one letter of recommendations to talk about teaching -- because teaching excellence is requisite for this job.

Another thing that really stood out to me is how important it is to have someone vet one's letters. I'd always heard about candidates being blackballed by their own LORs, but now I've seen it with my own two eyes -- not just a damning-with-faint-praise letter, but an actual I-can't-recommend-this-person their-research-is-never-going-to-be-published letter. Friends, send your dossiers to a friend who will tell you whether or not your letters are good, and whether the letters all work together, covering your research and teaching (less important, but still helpful for teaching schools).

Over the weekend, my father went in for chest pains and ended up having an angioplasty. He now has two stints or whatever in his heart. I'm only now really coming to grips with the fact that this is a huge deal. At every point, this news was presented to me as not a big deal and intended to prevent future problems, so unlike other members of my family, I didn't panic. I was actually called out a little for not panicking and instead seeing this moment connected to the chest pains he had before I left Urban Home City and warnings about his heart and his lifestyle habits (eating whatever he wants and never exercising) he had when he was much younger. My sibling told me that maybe I wasn't panicking because I was "mature." Maybe it's because I think my father eats like crap and doesn't take care of himself, so I no longer think of him as my invincible dad; he's getting a bit older and there are bound to be problems when someone eats total crap, dismisses any information I have as the ravings of a health food crank, and never exercises. Considering that both grandparents have multiple cancers and problems, I guess my first question is whether someone is dying or not. I figure if Dad is not dying and everyone says he's going to be okay, then I'm worried, but I'm not panicking. All this said, I felt guilty because I wasn't panicking more, like it meant I was a cold person. Really, I know I'm a bit slow to process something big and emotional, which allows me to immediately spring into action if necessary and get things done (like calling half my grandmothers' friends when my grandmother died and answering my grandfather's questions about funeral procedures). But I don't want people to think I'm a cold fish either.

I did talk to Dad. He was complaining about the food and talking about how the nurses came in to siphon him for blood and take his blood pressure every couple hours, making it impossible for him to sleep. Since he's complaining, I know he's fine. Hospitals are terrible places where it's impossible for patients to get any damn rest. Why is this?

My imposter syndrome on this job knows no bounds, making me put on uncomfortable pants on a day I don't teach because I imagine Intimidating Full Professor who wears a suit every day is thinking I'm less than fully professional and professorial when he sees me for two seconds around the department in jeans. The truth is that I'm one of very few women in my department at a school that is mostly male. So as the only young woman with a baby in the department, I always feel like I'm under the gun to prove how professional and together I am, when really inside I am a super-granola absent-minded professor barely keeping things together. I can never really tell whether my concerns are totally ridiculous. Fabulous Colleague who makes the social element of this job bearable for me also feels sort of under the gun, though I should ask her about the jeans, because I may just be driving my self batty. I just don't have a lot of clothes, don't feel like I want to buy a bunch more clothes since many are in storage and I'm fatter than I want to be, and am comfortable in jeans and feel it's not so bad on days I don't teach. On the other hand, no one else looks so casual. All of this is coming to a head right now because we're staring down the Department Christmas Party, where we're trying to figure what is going to be appropriate to wear, especially considering that we're going to have to balance eating and socializing with keeping Absurdist Tot the Wild Monkey out of everyone's hair. They are all going to see me in full mom-mode, so who cares if I wear jeans? All the same, I'm probably not going to. But shouldn't Absurdist Lover be able to look niceish (so no T-shirts) but comfortable? Yes, I'm talking about clothes for the Christmas Party. See what BS ends up taking over one's mind?

I love the holidays. Everyone around here puts up lights and decorations right after Thanksgiving. It's wonderful. I know everyone complains about people getting into Christmas too early (too soon after or even before Thanksgiving), but think about Christmas in European countries, where there is no Thanksgiving to usher in the season. Love Actually starts at 5 weeks before Christmas, which is right around Thanksgiving. Do they not put up their lights and decorations because it's too soon? I used to feel pressured by the early onset of Christmas, but now I want the holiday season to last as long as possible. We've been happy to see all sorts of lights and decorations! We put ours up ages ago! I can't wait until I can focus on the holidays instead of all this other stuff.

The baby finally went back to sleep. So must I. I'm tired. Oh, did I mention that it snowed? That there is a gorgeous blanket of snow (crap, I still haven't planted those bulbs I bought and now we have this early snow!!!) on everything out there. Beautiful.

1 comment:

Ink said...

I'm so sorry about your Dad. But very glad he's ok!

And can I just say how much I loved the phrase "uncomfortable pants"? :)