Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The end of the year already?

The end of the year already?

Wow, it was so easy to blog during November, and then I fell off the wagon again. Right now, I'm in a cafe, unable to settle on work, so am going to say some stuff. I would tell you about my year, but it sucked. Actually, many good things happened this year, but the bad things were the sort of things that were in ways devastating. Not as devastating as my last breakup (and that's a whole nother thing, as they say). No, these things were devastating because they hit me at the core of my professional identity and involved going through something we probably all go through once we settle into a place, or maybe when we get tenure and become senior faculty. All of a sudden, we see more of the politics, and are on different committees (actually, not true in my case, but I know it is for some), and when we have the freedom to follow our own agendas a bit more. Or maybe it's just that academic politics can be very much like the schoolyard all over again, with cliques and hurt feelings and all sorts of things that shouldn't actually happen between reasonable adults.

Hm. I am having trouble writing about these things, at least in a dispassionate way.

Let's just say that I kinda love my job. I like the students I teach, even though I wish they were more driven. I work for great people who I really believe would like to pay their faculty more and who have been very supportive of me and my work, and of my colleagues, too. They have foibles, but I wouldn't trade them. I generally like my colleagues, although I am truly disturbed by some of the things I see, particularly those that seem to be the result of giving junior faculty too much responsibility too soon, with too little mentoring and oversight. And frankly, those same things might also be a result of not having a good feel for institutional wisdom and its importance. I love the town I live in, and enjoy much about small-town life. I have a house, and cats, and good friends. I feel loved and appreciated.

And yet

It would be nice if this year hadn't seemed to be a mash-up of Mean Girls, Lear, Middlemarch, and Gaslight.

Hey, it's still the bleak midwinter where I am. Look for productive posts in the New Year.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Today's word

Today's Word

So I'm not signing up for the Reverb 10 thing seen here, at BrightStar's and here, at Dr. Crazy's, but I thought it might be fun to play along for a bit. So...

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Wow... lots to choose from, but I think the word is really stress. I started the year taking over as department chair rather unexpectedly. I taught as many or more students than all my colleagues combined, plus doing admin stuff, trying (and often failing) to work on my own stuff, and watching everybody else get ahead on research to the point that I began to resent teaching -- the reason I was hired and what I do best. And of course, I beat myself up for it. I beat myself up for a lot of things, apparently. Who knew? Anyway, by mid-summer, I was waking up with clenched fists and feet and had managed to clench my jaws at night even while wearing a bite guard. So... lots of tired. Lots of inefficient use of time and lack of concentration. Lots more beating myself up. Or, to put it bluntly, more stress. And falling behind meant cutting out the gym to catch up ... I assume you're getting the vicious cycle here? Plus weight gain... on-again, off-again relationship, jugglers' balls bouncing everywhere and breaking things... plus a couple of fairly major work-related crises i will not be blogging about. Oh, and that whole buying a house thing.

I cannot wait for this year to be done.

Next year's word: together. Together is what I want to be. Having a grip on my life again, focusing on the right things, getting my head together, my health together, my finances together. And maybe even being together in the relationship sense, if that ends up being an option. Together in the work sense, too, both for me, and in a collegial sense. Together is good, because it's alone without needing others, and also not alone.