Monday, August 31, 2009

Casualties of Academia

So I spent the afternoon with a former colleague of mine, who left the tenure track to care for small children. It was a great few hours (and the kids are adorable), and it got me thinking about the demands of this profession and the ways in which it shapes the choices that we (and by "we" here I'm thinking mostly of women) make.

One thing it got me thinking about is the fact that this former colleague isn't the only person I know who left a tenure-track gig with nothing career-wise in the offing. And the people I know who did this weren't slackers. They weren't in immediate danger of failing to earn tenure; they hadn't received negative performance reviews; their teaching evaluations were just fine. Either a situation came up where it would be advantageous for the family to relocate or childcare demands became impossible to manage, particularly given the weirdness of most academic types' schedules, or some combination of these.

And then I got to thinking about the (much larger) number of people whom I knew in grad school who either dropped out before earning the degree or who did finish the PhD but who never pursued t-t employment because they realized that to do so would have a severe impact on their personal life situations (whether it meant they couldn't live in the same place as their partners/kids or it meant that they would have to postpone having partners/kids or both). Again, these people weren't losers, and this wasn't about ability or talent or anything close to that. It was just about a realization (as far as I can tell) that one can't necessarily have it all - that choices need to be made.

And then I think about people like me, who stayed "unencumbered" (a way of putting it that I picked up from BFF about being unmarried and without kids that I just adore and that feels much more positive to me than saying "single" or "child-free" - let alone compared with "old maid" or "childless"), and who have successfully managed the tenure-track dealio, but who, no matter how vibrant our lives are (and mine is vibrant and I've got great friends and I'm a happy person, and probably a lot happier than many who are married and/or with kids) don't have the family piece in place, and not necessarily because we consciously have chosen against those things.

As I think about all these things, I think that they are in many ways three versions of the same thing. This profession forces many of us (though not all, to be sure: as Historiann has noted if one, "gets a wife," that helps a whole lot) to make impossible choices, and choices that are incomprehensible to most of the general public (and most especially to my family and non-academic friends). While it's true that people in all professions need to find ways to balance their personal and professional lives, I don't think that it's true that people in all professions with similar training need to choose so decisively to give up so much. It is true that if I were in law that I might have to make sacrifices in order to do a family and law both. I might need to take a lower-paying job in order to stay geographically planted; I might need to do something with my degree that isn't my One True Passion; I might, even, if I were particularly ambitious, need to uproot my family from a particular location if I wanted to pursue the One True Job for me, but that wouldn't be the only way for me to pursue my profession. If I met someone who lived elsewhere, and I loved them, I wouldn't have to give up my entire profession, even if I did have to give up my current job. It wouldn't be "choose chocolate or vanilla." It wouldn't be, "use your degree" or "leave the profession." It wouldn't be "have a career" or "have a motherfucking life."

I think that all of these choices are made for good reasons. I don't think that choosing to leave a t-t job, not to pursue a t-t job after earning the degree, or to leave graduate school before the degree indicates a lack of seriousness or of commitment to academic ideals or higher education, just as I don't think that choosing to postpone or to forgo marriage or children indicates a lack of desire toward those things, or a greater commitment to academic ideals or higher education. I think that the reality has nothing to do with commitment or desire. I think that it has to do with what is actually doable for actual human beings. I'm too cynical to believe that anybody - let alone a woman - can actually "have it all," and I've seen too much to believe that things just "fall into place" if they are "meant to be."

The women I know who've managed great academic careers and intact marriages and kids are few and far between. I know a lot of women who've managed to find great partnerships and academic careers - once they've hit their 50's and beyond (and tenure). I know women who've managed kids and academic careers, with no partner or with a partner who is history. I know academic couples (as well as couples with one partner who was in a "mobile" profession) who've managed to have kids and to enter the profession and then to end up divorced. I know academic couples with children, partnerships that have survived, primarily because the female half of the equation signed on to be a trailing spouse and an adjunct for life. I have no anecdata in the reverse - where the male was the trailing spouse and adjunct for life.

I know only a handful of women who've managed to have long-term partnerships and to have children and to have the career that they dreamed of having, and worked so hard to achieve. I know maybe two handfuls of women who've managed to have long-term partnerships where they consciously chose (as a couple) not to have children. But at the end of the day, I really believe that success in this profession is hostile to a full life, particularly for the women I know. I think it's possible, don't get me wrong, but I think the profession actively resists it.

I'm thinking about this a lot lately, because I've been reflecting a lot about the choices I've made in my life and the life that I've managed to make for myself as a 35-year-old person. I can't imagine, really, leaving my job for kids and a husband. But at the same time, I want kids and a husband. And yet, time is running out. Biologically. I'd never really considered that this is where I'd be at 35. I never imagined that I'd have published a book (a) and that I wouldn't have a kid (b). I never thought that my clock would actually be ticking. What a freaking cliche for the modern career girl! What a ridiculous way to feel! But the reality is that no matter how cliche and ridiculous it is, this is my reality. I'm 35 and I'm not in a relationship that would lead to a kid, and I'd want that relationship and I would want a kid. But I've worked really hard at getting the career that I have, and it really matters to me. On the other hand, I've got friends who have chosen the kids/family thing over the career, and I don't want their lives either.

Maybe I'm just happy with nothing. Or, as BFF says I'm prejudiced against everything, or as FB would have it, I resist anything... (I paused to figure out what I resisted, but he insisted that I should just put a period after "anything"). But I really think that this profession offers us very little latitude for negotiation, when it comes to fitting the personal in with the profession. And by "us" I mostly mean "women." The casualties of this profession aren't slackers, or people who didn't know better, or people who didn't care enough, or people who were workaholics. The causalties are women. And sure, there are exceptions. But I'm willing to venture that the exceptions prove the rule.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Resting as Weekend Accomplishment

I refuse to characterize my weekend as "lazy," although if we look at the facts on paper, I was lazy.

1. I spent most of the day yesterday in bed. Intermittently reading (not for work) and sleeping.

2. I did not deal with anything related to my job as a professor, either today or yesterday. And I've got lots of things that need to be dealt with.

3. I have a big list of chores to accomplish around the house, and I accomplished exactly 1 1/2 things (though they were fairly major things) on the Big List of Chores.

But you know what? I was freaking worn out after the first real week of the semester, especially given that on top of being slammed with teaching, I was also slammed with service. And what I needed, more than clean laundry and more than to "get ahead" on work-related tasks and more than a clean bathroom, was to rest. And so that's what I did.

What I wonder about is why I feel guilty for doing that. I think part of it has to do with the fact that I know that most people my age don't really have the luxury of totally taking a weekend to lie around. No significant other + no kids + tenure = Freedom to Be a Vegetable. My squalor is my own, and if I want to live in it, the only ones to object would be the kitties, but as long as they've got food and clean litter, they really couldn't care less. And yes, I've got things to do for work, but the reality is that if I don't do them today, it just means I'll do them tomorrow or on another day this week. The fact of the matter is, my life is such that I don't have to feel guilty for taking to my bed of a Saturday. And yet, I do.

So here I am, Sunday evening, trying to talk myself out of the guilt. Because, seriously, guilt itself is exhausting, and what I really need is to start this week fresh - not exhausted.

So tonight perhaps I shall do a couple of more things around the house, and I will make an actual list of things to do for tomorrow, things I actually plan to accomplish tomorrow. Otherwise, I think I'm going to continue with the resting and the relaxing. And I'm going to try really hard not to feel guilty about it.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

On Being in the Public Eye

So last night I slept terribly, even though (perhaps because?) I'm completely exhausted and because I couldn't make my brain shut up. This only happens to me rarely. Normally, I'm a very good sleeper. It's one of my finest qualities, I think.

But so anyway, I think part of this is that this week it's finally hit home that the work that I'm doing on MUWCI isn't just something I'm puttering along at behind the scenes. People are Noticing. In ways that are good - and that has lots of good points - but it also freaks me out.

What it reminds me of a bit is something that freaked me out at my 10-year high school reunion. All of these people "knew" me who I seriously didn't have a clue who they were. It's not like I had amnesia or something - it's that while I was visible to them in high school, they were invisible to me. They weren't in my circle of friends, and they weren't really "public" people. I, on the other hand, was a pretty public person in my high school. I was editor of the school paper, active in the drama club, in choir, blah blah blah. But so anyway, it was strange, and it made me a little uncomfortable. Luckily, there was an open bar.

Since high school, I've never been public like that again. Not in my day-to-day life. Probably the closest to that experience in my professional life has been conferences - but those only last for a few days, and what "public" status I have is relatively minor. Sure, a lot of people know who I am, because I'm social, and because I've written some things that people have read. But I'm in no way a superstar. (Actually, an aside: perhaps I feel very similar discomfort about publication, too, as evidenced by my freak-out just before the book appeared, when I realized people would be able to read the thing. That was horrifying to me. But then I came to terms with it by convincing myself that I was totally disconnected from the book once it came out, and by distracting myself with other things.) Again, though, that sort of public persona isn't something I carry with me every day.

But all of a sudden, I've Appeared on the Scene at my university in a way that is pretty overwhelming. It's not that I've been invisible to this point, but in terms of university-wide stuff, I've only been on the periphery of the campus community. Most of my work has been confined within my department and within tiny programs that don't get a lot of recognition or public play. And it's also not that I'm uncomfortable "in the moment" with the public role that I'm taking on. In the moment, I'm pretty good at what that entails. Actually, if I'm honest, I'm probably very good at it and naturally suited to it and naturally inclined to take that kind of role on. I'm not shy about speaking up, and I'm not nervous about being a public face for the work that I'm doing. What freaks me out is when people actually focus their attention on ME as opposed to on the thing I'm working on.

And part of my feelings of discomfort probably also stem from the fact that I feel like a lot of what I'm doing at the moment has little to do with "expertise" or "training" or something, but rather with traits inherent in my disposition and personality. And that has me thinking a lot about my dad, who is by and large the source of those traits. My dad, for all his flaws, could work a room. He was this person who just naturally tended to be a leader in social situations, and who was very, very good at rallying the troops. Now, my dad never really had a professional outlet for these talents, in large part because he didn't have my ambition or work ethic - things that I got from my mom. He tended to use these abilities for things like putting together a bar-league softball team. But in his own way, he exemplified those skills of negotiation, enthusiasm, outgoingness, and teamwork that are really the ones I'm drawing on most right now. And if he were around to address the stuff I'm agonizing over at the moment, he'd probably just tell me something along the lines of "Quit your bitching, Crazy, and get over yourself." He'd also probably be ridiculously proud of me. Of course, if he were alive he wouldn't be around to talk to about any of this stuff anyway, since he was a jackass who wasn't really in my life, but since he's dead, I have the luxury of thinking about him fondly as opposed to with resentment.

And then I wonder whether some of this discomfort comes from not being able to take a compliment. On the one hand, it's nice to have one's good work (and hard work) acknowledged, but on the other, well, it also skeeves me out a little bit. As much as I hate criticism (and we all know that I do, and I don't necessarily handle it well when it first comes my way), I do have a lot more faith in criticism than I do in praise. Praise sets up all of these expectations, if it's honest, and if it's not honest, well, then you have to be suspicious that people really think you're a lame blowhard. Praise is a funny thing that it's really difficult to put into any kind of objective perspective. So is it good that various deans and people in the provost's office and colleagues across campus appear to think I'm fabulous? I guess. But it also means that if I fuck up that will be just as public, just as noted. It's scary. Scary in a way that sending stuff off for publication or teaching a class or whatever are just not scary.

Now, I'm not going to do anything differently because I'm scared. Ultimately, the fact that I'm freaked out probably means that I'm feeling challenged in ways that are good for me. The only thing to do is to keep doing what I'm doing and not to allow myself to give in to this self-consciousness. I know - even if others don't seem to - that I'm not really the point here. The point is MUWCI, and the point is that somebody - whether it's me or somebody else - needs to work the crowds in order to get people on board so that the whole thing doesn't just fall apart. Since I really care about this a lot, and since I'm naturally inclined toward the working of crowds, well, I should be doing this. And if other people acknowledge that, I shouldn't feel awkward about it, because really, they just have the same estimation of my abilities that I have of them. That shouldn't cause me discomfort. That should, ultimately, be validating.

Knowing that and feeling it are two very different things, though.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Secret Thing about Tenure

It turns out that even if you have classes scheduled on only two days a week that you can expect to be on campus for a full five.

At least if you're heavily involved with GUWCI. Which I fully realize more sensible faculty wouldn't be. Except I'm not sensible, particularly because I'm totally passionate about GUWCI.

Based on my performance yesterday, I've been volunteered for yet another committee. I really want to be on it, but I also know I'm an idiot.

World domination is, indeed, a heady and exciting thing, but it also involves a fuck of a lot of time and effort.

It's days like these when I think to myself, "Self, why can't you be dead wood? You've got tenure now!" I also, on days like this, think that it would be fabulous to be a full-time, contract faculty member who could, justifiably, ignore all of this stuff.

And yet, here I am. And people seem to think I'm fabulous (and yes, I care about that, deeply.) I just wish that it involved a lot less time and effort. Because dude. This is requiring a lot of time and effort.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Oh, Yes, I Did That

As I wrote in a post that I decided not to post (some of you saw it - but I decided that I didn't want to be that bitchy about this thing, for I really don't feel as bitchy as what I wrote), I am obsessed with Major University-Wide Curriculum Issue (MUWCI). It has captured my imagination and my energy as little else has done, unless we think about the way that reforming my major captured it last semester.

I love thinking about and helping to design curriculum. It is like my absolute favorite thing that I get to do, I think. Yes, I think I actually like it more than teaching or research. It has all of the benefits of syllabus design, which I love, (the hope, the planning, the managing - and actually, this is the part of doing research that I love, too, as opposed to the execution of the thing) and none of the grading that results from the construction of a syllabus (or the writing that has to result from the ideas in research). (Though I suppose that assessment is the thing that curricular design produces, and that's a whole lot like grading or actually writing an article, except not, as I'll never be responsible for doing all of the assessment or all of the writing, whereas I am responsible for doing all of the grading with teaching or all of the writing with research.) And also, another thing about doing stuff with curriculum is that it's by its very nature collaborative. This actually makes curricular design better than designing a syllabus or doing research, as it means that you get to hash things out with other people who are just as invested as you are and that means that you get even BETTER ideas than you'd have on your own. Instead of having to revamp two or three times before you get it right, there is totally the opportunity to get it right the very first time. (Not saying that always or even often happens - just that the opportunity is there, where I don't feel like it is with a syllabus or with an article or a book.) Actually, you know why I love the curriculum stuff so much? Same reason I love designing a conference panel and giving a paper on it. It's a one-off deal where you just get to be awesome.

I have often thought that if there were a job out there where one could just design curricula and not have to do anything else that this would be the perfect job for me. The problem is, jobs that pretend to be about curriculum only also involve lots of administrative crap that sucks. I don't want to do that administrative crap, so really, being a faculty member - and most especially a tenured faculty member - is totally the best job ever that I could have.

So anyway, today I needed to present what my group did regarding MUWCI to our faculty senate. Oh, and the provost and the president were also there. And let me tell you, I spent lots of time this weekend thinking about what I was going to do with that five minutes. I was uber-prepared (the only person who showed up with a handout, and we all know that Handouts Signify Preparedness) and I was... well, I was amazing.

Yep, I'm just going to put that out there. I was freaking awesome. You don't believe me? At one point I responded to a question from a member of the senate, and my response produced both laughter and applause. That's right - some people clapped! And everybody laughed! At a meeting on the first day of classes and it was after 4 PM. And though the other representatives from the working groups could have had their moment after my little speech, they all were like, "how can we follow that?" And they offered nothing! NOTHING! And after the meeting, lots of people came up to me to tell me how well I did. It was awesome!

Now, I don't know whether what I want to happen really will happen with this MUWCI. Miles to go before we sleep and all that, and it may well be that I can't charm people into doing what I want them to do. And even if I can, there is going to be compromise (which I'm fine with, actually, as much in the way that I will do nearly anything that a reader's report tells me to do in order to get a publication, I'm pretty much willing to do anything that makes a curriculum thing go forward as long as my "vision" is still clearly visible.) Compromises are good, ultimately. What matters is the spirit of the thing, and I feel like the fact that I'm wicked-enthusiastic and a believer in compromise means that I shall prevail! Prevail, I say! The spirit that I believe in shall indeed be preserved! (And yes, I've got spirit, yes I do, and lots of beat-down faculty at my institution don't, and I do think that I'm excellent at winning people over because I really actually believe in and care about the stuff that I represent. Imagine that.)

The reason tenure is so important to what I did today was that I ultimately said what I really wanted to say, and not what I thought I should say or what would be good to say - especially given that the provost and president were in attendance. I kind of dissed a couple of things that I know both of them see as of primary importance, and I in no way held back when I responded to questions. Now, I've never been much of a holder-backer, but that's also why I couldn't do this sort of service pre-tenure, and why I avoided it. I knew I'd say what I thought regardless, and that would have been stupid pre-tenure. And my senior people in my department knew it, too, and so that is why they always steered me in other directions. But now? I am free. I am free to say exactly what I think and to contribute in ways that really mean something.

And, I suppose, I'm free to be myself. So what if I look like I'm an undergraduate (got carded at the wine store today - somebody new was at the counter) and so what if I tend to be sort of... informal (read: not boring)... in the way that I approach these sorts of conversations. So what if I tend to say "like" a lot, and so what if what I believe in doesn't please people who are so entrenched that they would rather we are entirely directive to students because they, ultimately, believe that our students are profoundly stupid. The best I can do is to say what I really believe and to sell it the best way that I know how.

And here's the thing. I sort of like the selling part of things. And I'm sort of good at it.

When I was in my freshmen year of high school, I had this awesome Latin teacher, and within the first month, he began referring to me, each and every time he called on me, as "Dr. Crazy, Star of Stage and Screen." This is a thing about myself that I've often had to try to cover up (although to be fair, I'm not sure how successful I've been) throughout graduate school and throughout my time on the tenure track. One isn't seen as "serious" if one is a performer, an entertainer. But today I let those parts of myself shine through, clearly. I didn't worry that I wouldn't be taken seriously if I sold my work, and ultimately, it was my job in this context to sell my work (and the work of my group). What was needed today was a performer. A performer who could answer questions and be smart and thoughtful at the same time. And I delivered on all counts.

The other groups? They need to worry. Because I accomplished some things today that they just did not accomplish. If they really care about their proposals, and if they really want them to get a fair hearing, they need to regroup. Seriously.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Really Would Like, Someday, to Recommend that Something Be Published

I'm sitting here working on my reader's report for a journal rather than doing things that are probably more pressing on my list of things to do, and I'm wondering whether I'm the meanest reviewer ever. Either that or maybe editors just like to send me garbage to read. I mean, garbage.

But seriously. Write better things for journals, people. Read all of the existing scholarship, and actually cite some of it in your articles. Don't include lengthy (and I mean, seriously, page-long) block quotes that you never analyze. Don't make up words. Don't use words that haven't been in common usage since the 18th century. Don't use sentence structures or organizational structures so convoluted that I want to kill myself. Realize that citing something that was initially quoted in a theory textbook probably doesn't make you look too awesome. Realize that it's just plain mean to the people who agree to read for journals to put them through all of the above, and that it makes people who agree to read for journals bitter and want to say really brutal things to you. So again, write. better. articles.

Because I really, someday, would like to recommend publication. Hell, I'd even like to recommend a revise and resubmit. Someday I would not like to think, as I'm reading an article for a journal, that my undergraduates should start submitting stuff for publication if this is the sort of crap that professionals - or even graduate students - are submitting. Someday I would like to think that reading for a journal was pleasant and a useful enterprise, rather than feeling like reading for a journal is a total waste of my time.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Getting into the Groove

Why is the re-entry in fall always so traumatic? I mean, I'm still motivated and excited and everything, but I am also just beat and classes haven't even started yet. You may ask yourself why I am blogging at 6 AM when I claim to be exhausted. Well, you see, for the past two nights in a row I've been so tired that I have actually ended up crashing on the couch somewhere in the neighborhood of 9 PM. The result of this is that I then wake up disoriented and drag myself to bed after a couple of hours, and then my eyes pop open in the neighborhood of 5 AM. The vigilant Man-Kitty seems to sense this happening, and he then begins his Ritual Meowing of Morningtime with which he likes to begin each day. This is also accompanied by the Purring of "Where is my breakfast, woman?" and then at that point, I appease him with some breakfast, and then I try to return to bed but at that point I'm wide awake and thinking about all of the crap I need to do and so then I just give up and go make coffee.

You may wonder where Mr. Stripey is during all of this. Yeah, he typically is relaxing on the cool floor of either the kitchen or the bathroom. Much in the attitude of this guy:

His morning rituals are fairly simple in comparison with those of my older and much more vocal cat. Sometimes he will chase something not visible to human eyes and make squeaking and chirping noises, but then he returns to the standard reclining position. It is the way of him.

But so anyway, today is the official kick-off to the fall semester, and I'm considering whether I want to go to all of the day's festivities, or whether I'll just make my appearance after lunch. On the one hand, going to the Morning Thing could be good.... I expect some important things will be said about the budget, and about the Major Curriculum Issue that I'm involved with. I also know, however, that all of this will be available to read by tomorrow, and so I don't actually need to go in order to find out exactly what was said. In contrast, the after lunch stuff won't be publicized, so that I fully intend to show up for.

Hmm. I suppose I'll see how I feel in an hour.

In other news, I need to:
  1. Do laundry.
  2. Do crap around the house.
  3. Clean out my email.
  4. Finish revisions on that essay.
  5. Begin reading for my grad class.
  6. Call freaking IT and get the appropriate credentials (gah) to copy stuff from one course shell to another in Blackboard. I hate technology.
  7. Buy food and litter for the felines.
  8. Continue to consider what I'm going to have done to my hair on Monday at my back-to-school hair appointment. I am considering lowlights, as I feel as if my hair is looking too drab and bleached out after the summer. I know, exciting.
  9. Make grocery list and go to the grocery store.
  10. Get with the program in terms of diet and exercise, as I have many fitness goals for the fall semester.
Now, clearly not all of this needs to be done today, but I do believe that these are all of the things that I must accomplish by Monday. Not a totally outlandish list, but given the fact that I am lazy, we'll see how much of it I actually do.

Well, this has been a frivolous and boring post. Whatever. It's early, and I'm tired.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Thinking about Motivation and Work

Contrary to many of my posts where I talk about motivation, I won't be talking about my lack of it today:) See, it turns out I'm incredibly motivated at the start of this academic year, which, I've got to say, was not something I'd been expecting.

Given the fact that I just earned tenure and that my book came out last year, I'd thought (when I thought about it at all) that I'd be in a post-book, post-tenure funk. I'd fantasized about what it would be like to rest on my laurels for a year or two, whether that would be depressing or liberating, and what I was going to do with all of that free time on my hands, with no major research project on the table and with the sudden ability to say no to irritating things.

But here I am, on the cusp of beginning my seventh year as a college professor (which is just astonishing to me, I have to say, that I'm at this point - that after this year I will have been a working college professor longer than I was in graduate school) and somehow I don't see this "funk" thing materializing. I began the year with nothing going on research-wise (aside from an outstanding revise and resubmit) and now I've got my next book project formulated, I've got two articles forthcoming, a book review forthcoming, and that revise and resubmit has been accepted with minor revisions (which I really need to knock out this week). I'll be teaching a class in our fledgling MA program for the first time - a new class that has me ridiculously excited and slightly terrified. I'm following through with all of the work in the spring that I did to push revisions to our undergraduate major through, and this work has led me toward working on a Major University-Wide Curriculum Issue, and suddenly I'm like this Person who's a mover and a shaker in the campus community. What. The. Hell.

I mean, seriously. What happened to the whole "resting on my laurels" plan? Why am I so energized?

Not that I'm complaining. I am certainly not complaining. This is like this huge and wonderful surprise. But I don't really get where it's coming from, and I'm more than a little bit worried that I'll hit October and somehow all of this energy will disappear. Except I don't think that it will. I feel (dare I say it?) like things have, with little planning on my part, clicked into place. Like, although it sounds cheesy, that this is what I've been working toward all this time.

(And yes, I recognize that it's a little bit nutso to have been working all of this time toward more work, but apparently this is who I am.)

So what's different? Because I'll admit, in the past couple of years I've been feeling pretty worn out. And I think that this is why I'd just assumed that I'd collapse upon the book coming out and upon earning tenure. And you know, I did, kind of. From like January through April. I mean, I was getting things done, but a lot of things also fell by the wayside. But my dad also died in that time, and that was traumatic, and then, well, I felt like I needed to stop with the collapsing. It was not making me feel better. Not at all.

As I've been reflecting on this stuff, one thing that keeps occurring to me is that a primary factor in my attitude as I embark on my first year post-tenure is that external markers do not motivate me. Throughout my time on the tenure track, I actively resented having to produce evidence of my productivity, and I actively resented feeling like I did a lot of things just to hit goals that other people said I should hit. In that regard, I was sort of right that tenure would feel like sort of a hollow achievement when all was said and done. I mean, don't get me wrong, I was happy to achieve it, but at the same time, it also felt like I'd just sort of played the game and followed the rules and that it had little connection to who I actually am at the end of the day.

This has always been true for me. Throughout high school and college, I was a fairly uneven student. I was not at all motivated by grades. So if I liked a class, and if I was interested in it, and if I respected the professor, I worked like a maniac and did amazingly well. If I wasn't that into it? If I decided that the professor was a ninny? Um, let's just say that my lack of motivation translated into less than stellar performance. Like C and D sort of performance in some cases. And it didn't bother me. What mattered to me was that I was doing stuff that I thought was worthwhile, and that I felt like I got real acknowledgment (not just a particular grade) when I threw myself into something. I wanted confirmation of what I knew I was doing well - and praise and flattery for it from people whom I respected - but the source of my motivation was not - and still is not - outside of myself.

If I try, I can trace this way of looking at work and achievement to a few things:
  • Massive self-absorption due to being raised as an only child.
  • A mother who regularly cautioned against "measuring with a yardstick," comparing my performance or achievement to that of other people. Going along with the it's bad to evaluate one's own worth or success in terms of other people, she was also a mother who was a firm believer in the idea that as long as one tried one's best that this in itself was its own reward. She wanted me to do well, but she was never focused on grades as a measure of that, nor was there ever this expectation that I had to be perfect in terms of academic performance. She was much more interested in me being a well-rounded person.
  • I'm my own worst critic. At the end of the day, I have higher standards for myself than most other people have for me. And this perhaps is why I find having to meet other people's standards so irritating: I think other people's standards are stupid and beside the point. I mean, I do it, because one has to, but I don't like it, and it doesn't motivate me. It's just jumping through meaningless hoops.
But so this is the big shocker about having tenure, as opposed to working toward it. It's like this huge weight has been lifted off of me. I'm totally in charge of my own destiny now. I don't need to please anybody but myself. It's like I've been let off of what felt a lot of times like a very short leash.

And so for the first time really since beginning graduate school I feel like I am free to pursue what interests me regardless of how it looks on paper. And for me, that's not depressing or scary - or if it is scary, it's a good kind of scary. I don't actually want to rest on my laurels. I want to use this new freedom to do cool stuff. Some of that cool stuff has nothing to do with work, but it turns out there's a lot of work that I really want to do and that I really take pleasure in and find incredibly exciting. And I get to do it without hearing a clock ticking in the background. I get to do it without any sort of real or imagined pressure.

And it is true, I do get to pick and choose what I do a heck of a lot more than I ever have since I was an undergraduate. I may not be resting on my laurels, but I'm also a whole heck of a lot freer to refuse stuff that I think sucks. Now, luckily, the stuff that I enjoy is also stuff that other people don't, so I'm still a good department and university citizen, which does matter to me. And also, the stuff I most enjoy doing I wasn't really able to do before tenure, so it's like this whole new world has opened up before me, wherein I finally get to sit at the grown-up table and do work that I really think matters.

The only sucky thing about this is that it means a lot more meetings. Meetings blow. At least, though, it turns out, when you're doing really important fancy stuff that only the tenured can do, the meetings typically don't last beyond an hour. (Why is it that a meeting regarding a Major University-Wide Curriculum Issue can take care of a full agenda in an hour while a meeting regarding planning a student event drags on and on? 'Tis a mystery.)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Office Hours

In a comment to her recent post on faculty who shirk service responsibilities, Historiann remarked that she's considered doing away with office hours. In a later comment, Historiann notes that while she doesn't plan to totally do away with time in her office where she would be available for consultation with students, she wonders at whether "office hours" really make sense in her institutional context, and in a 21st-century context:
Since students use technology first to contact us, I wonder what the point of office hours is, especially at a place like Baa Ram U., where students apparently take a blood oath not to talk to faculty outside of class.
Since this issue is so far from the point of her original post, I thought I'd bring the discussion of this question over here. Now, I believe that according to our faculty handbook, I'm required to have one scheduled office hour for each class that I teach (so four hours per week), though I'll admit that I don't actually do this anymore. Does this mean that I'm a shirker? That I'm unavailable to students? No. I changed this up mainly because I realized that it didn't work for my students. In fact, I'd argue that many people who schedule the four hours are less available than I am. How so?

1. It is a time-honored tradition in academia for people intentionally to schedule office hours when they think that students won't show up. The 8 AM office hour? That is all about wanting to do prep in one's office hour rather than to meet with students, who likely won't come at that time. The 4 PM on a Friday office hour? Not only won't students show up, but likely your colleagues won't be around either, and so you can just ditch, and 9 times out of 10 nobody will be the wiser. In other words, you may have those hours "on the books" but that doesn't necessarily equate with real availability.

2. Let's say that you do want to be available to students. But you also want to make your schedule rational for you. Most professors will typically schedule office hours directly before or directly after the courses that they teach. In theory, this is a great idea. In practice, students also schedule their courses in blocks, so they have other classes in those time periods directly before and directly after when they have classes with us. Thus, even if students want to meet with us individually, sometimes our "office hours" can prohibit them from doing so. Or, conversely, we sit alone during our "office hours" while making appointments to meet with students at other times.

3. What if you teach online? The whole point of online education is flexibility, right? Well, if that's true, then an online environment makes the idea of inflexible office hours sort of ridiculous, right?

In other words, scheduling those four hours, clearly listed on the syllabus, will not necessarily get students in to see us, nor will it necessarily make us available for individual consulation. I'll admit freely that when I scheduled the four hours I was a person who would try to make some office hours times when I knew it was unlikely that students would show. Why? Because I knew that I'd end up scheduling meetings outside of office hours with students, and I'm totally not a fan of uncompensated and unrecognized labor. Scheduling inconvenient office hours was a way of protecting my time, at a time when I felt like I needed to follow the letter of the law even if not the spirit of it. As I got more comfortable in my job, I realized that what mattered most was the spirit, and not the letter.

Let me note for the record that the office hours that I do schedule now are well-attended, and they are scheduled for strong attendance. No, I don't schedule four. But I schedule two to three, and they are jam-packed. So I'm not advocating slacking here. I'm just advocating for a policy that doesn't require faculty to set an arbitrary number of office hours.

So what do I think about office hours?

1. I think "online" office hours should be counted. If you will be available for IM or email from students, in a given hour of the day, that's an office hour. Electronic time counts, and departments should acknowledge that it counts in their handbooks.

2. If you are truly willing to schedule individual appointments with students outside of listed office hours, and if you do so, that should count, too. I teach at a campus where most of my students work and are also taking full course loads. The reality is that most of my students need to schedule appointments according to their schedules - not according to mine. If I do that (and lord, do I do that) then that time should be recognized and accounted for. In my world, "by appointment" does not mean "unavailable." It means, "I understand the challenges of my students' schedules and I work to accommodate them, and yes, I deserve to get credit for doing so."

3. Scheduled, traditional, face-to-face office hours do have a place, and I do not think that they should be done away with altogether. But we do need to recognize that with advancements in technology, they are not the bottom line. Rather, even on a 4-4 load, I can offer students "drop-in" time in my office in just two hours, "drop-in" time electronically for another hour, and appointment time for another hour per week. This isn't being less available to students to do so. In fact, I may be more available by adopting such a policy, and I may actually get credit for doing the work that I'm doing if I do so.

And, dude, shouldn't we acknowledge our availability in realistic ways, both so that students understand how they can reach us reasonably and so that administrators understand the time that we spend? If we schedule four face-time office hours but we schedule them all at inconvenient times, does that make us better teachers? If we schedule time with students outside of those hours, or IM them, or facebook them, should that work be invisible?

I say no. I say that we need to take another look at "office hours." What do they mean? What are they supposed to achieve? If we are achieving those goals outside of a clearly stated four hours on the syllabus, that doesn't mean that those efforts should be ignored.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

And.... She's BACK

The visit to the Great State of North Carolina was a smashing success, my 35th birthday went off without a hitch, and FL is grand, and a grand host.

Now it's time to have that Sunday Feeling on the eve of my department retreat, anxiously considering what tomorrow will hold, and all of the work that I must do between now and the start of the semester. Real posts will follow once I've recovered from my travels :)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

And.... She's Off!

Well, blog readers, I am off this morning for a long weekend in the great state of North Carolina, where I will have a long overdue visit with FL, my high school boyfriend whom I realize I met 20 years ago this past June, which means we are, indeed, old, and where I will celebrate my 35th birthday. Upon my return, the kickoff to the school year awaits, with lots of Hot Topics to discuss at the first meeting of my department, and really, the school year gets underway. I'm not ready, for the semester to start, but I think it's grand I'm taking off on vacation anyway.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Thing about Students and Gender

My friendship with BES has made me privy to all sorts of intrigues and details that I never would have known had we not become friends. Nothing untoward or that I shouldn't know about current students of mine, but interesting stuff nonetheless. I thought of this particular one as I read the comment thread to Historiann's current post, though it's totally a tangent and not actually related to what Historiann was writing about or what her readers commented. See, when BES and I were hanging out a while back, she noted that she'd taken a class in which she absolutely hated one of her classmates. As we were talking about it, I realized that I thought I knew who she was talking about. So I asked her, and she confirmed it: the Hated Classmate was my student, much in the way that BES became my student. (He was about a year ahead of her, so they never had a class with me together.) When it became clear that my Favorite Student from the Time before BES was the nemesis of BES, I was surprised. I'd always thought that the students who entered into the Circle of Crazy's Influence would just naturally get along. I mean, they are the best and the brightest and the coolest, after all - how could they not?

But what became apparent to me from BES's narrative was that this is not the case. And actually, some other intel that I gathered from her about another student confirmed that it's not the case. See, while it's true that students who are my students do often bond in response to their experiences with me, it's also true that they often end up in hyper-competitive relationships with one another, particularly when the students involved are divided by gender. In other words, my female student superstars tend to collect themselves into supportive and productive collectives, in which they like one another, read each others' drafts, and generally gain a lot through their interaction. When my male student superstars enter the mix, apparently it doesn't work in the same way. They either pester my female students with untoward advances (or wax poetic about crushes on me - as IF!) or they compete with the female students and deride them, acting as if the female students aren't really their equals. As you might imagine, this pisses my female students off. And rightly so, I might add.

I wonder at the fact that I didn't recognize this dynamic on my own - that I needed to hear it from BES before I saw it. To some extent, I believe that my cluelessness comes from my own socialization through graduate school. When I was an undergraduate, I think I responded in much the way my female undergraduates now respond to this shit. In very real ways, I became inured in graduate school to the whole cock-blocking, pissing contest dynamic of my interactions with my male peers, and I came to the point where I decided that I'd rather find a way to engage with those cock-blocking, pissing contest dudes, because they were wicked smart, than to hate them for their lame ways. I think this may be why I don't see it when my male students do the same stuff - I see it as par for the course with teh boyz, now, because I'm jaded and cynical. The problem is, my female students haven't gone through the gauntlet that I went through in grad school. They don't see it as dumb boy behavior: they see it as hostile and awful and sexist. (And, seriously, it is hostile and awful and sexist. I just found a way to deal with it, because I had to or I would have collapsed under the weight of trying to reject it.)

The problem is, I don't actively instruct my female students in what this bullshit is. Instead, I just meander along, assuming that because I can see through it - tracing it to the intellectual insecurity and to the socialization into modern masculinity - that my female students see it, too. And further, I don't instruct my male students about how this way of being is totally fucked up and also unnecessary and unproductive. I go along assuming that all of my students, male and female, "get it," which they totally do not.

All of this has me thinking about how I can actively work to stop this dynamic. I want all of my students - and most especially my students - to forge strong and productive relationships. I want them to realize the value of collaboration and conversation. I don't want them to take each other down in an attempt to build themselves up. I don't want them to compete for recognition. I most especially do not want for students to stop listening to one another and to dismiss one another when they could be learning from one another.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Turning 35

Before I get into the deep thoughts, I would just like to note that lots of people will be making out on my birthday, which I feel is as it should be. In addition, many people will be honoring the Virgin Mary, which is also as it should be. In general, everybody should be rocking it out on my birthday, in whatever capacity pleases them. Let's just note that this is the birthday of Julia Child and Napoleon, people. It's a good day on which to be born. Mark your calendars. I expect that you all should be rocking it out.

So anyway. As I do each year, I get all introspective in the lead-up to my birthday. This in part has to do with the fact that I live my life on an academic calendar, so August really feels like the beginning of my year, and well, it's also that August really is the beginning of my year because, dude, this is when I came into this world.

So during the lengthy time in the car to and from Hometown, I did some reflecting on my state of affairs as I edge ever closer toward my 35th year. Here are my conclusions:

  • FB is an ass, and a shithead, but I really do love him. That said, is he likely to get his shit together to commit to me? No. But I'd really rather he did. (And yes, I know that I broke it off with him. Except even with that I talk to him all the time and love him with a love that is pure and true. So I'm also an asshole and a shithead, although in an entirely more fabulous and awesome way than he is.)
  • Even though I knew I'd get tenure, getting tenure has given me such a sense of peace and centeredness. I had no idea before tenure what tenure would mean to me. It really rocks. I'm really proud of myself and I feel happier than I've felt in years because of it. Seriously.
  • I don't know what happens next in my life, but I feel like I just want to take care of myself and to be ready for what comes. I know I love work, and it will likely always be in my top three of important things, and I accept that about myself. But work isn't the most important thing, even if it's a very important thing.
  • I wouldn't trade the things that I've experienced in the past 35 years for anything. No regrets. None. I wouldn't trade even the lamest or hardest times I've experienced for another path. And I'm happy that I didn't get married and have kids in my 20s, even though getting married and having kids is something that I worry about now.
  • All I aim for in the coming year is health and satisfaction and joy. (Not death, not illness, not drama, which all dominated my 34th year.) I'm not sure what forms those things may take, but those are the aims, and they can come in whatever forms are most convenient.
I thought this post would be longer, but really, that's it. Those are my things. And really, I probably could have edited this to the last bullet. I want health and satisfaction and joy. And, no, I don't think that's too tall of an order.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Blogging While Academic

I'm due for a post about blogging, what with the fact that I've now been blogging for five years this summer and that I'm edging toward my 1500th post in this space, which does seem like a major milestone. I'd been thinking about things I'd like to say anyway, but also this post couldn't come at a more appropriate moment, what with the really interesting conversation about academic blogging going on over at Gayprof's and Historiann's. Some of what I have to say may be repetitive in that I've written a good deal about blogging on this here blog, but in case there are people who've not waded through the archives and who've come to the party late, I figure a little repetition is ok.

When I started blogging, there really wasn't an "academic blogosphere" per se. I started at about the same time as a bunch of other academics, though, so I suppose in that regard I got into this whole "academic blogging" thing on the ground floor. I didn't start off doing it because I was looking for a community, because there wasn't really a community there. I started doing it as a writing experiment, and as something that I could do "for me" that wasn't about jumping through tenure hoops or putting lines on my cv. I was shocked when I ended up being part of a community out of that, and when I realized I really liked that community. I remain shocked that I'm still blogging after all these years. I thought I'd do it for a couple of weeks and then lose interest.

But so is this blog an "academic blog"? A lot of people would say, without hesitation, no. These people believe that "academic blogs" do the following:
1) They talk directly about one's field of specialization.
2) They are written under one's professional name, for then what one has to say is verifiable and "authentic."
3) They are Serious and Important and contribute to scholarly conversation.

This blog does none of the above. If those are the criteria, then this blog fails miserably at being an academic blog.

But. I'm an academic. I do blog about issues related to academic life, though I also just talk about my life in general. And I've never had any interest in blogging directly about my area of specialization. This either makes me a bad academic blogger or just a bad academic period (for "good" academics think about nothing but their specialization, right?).

I'm also probably just generally a bad blogger. I've never particularly cared about how many hits I'm getting, nor have I ever actively tried to generate traffic. I think that ads would taint this space, and so I've never gotten them, even though I probably could make an extra 20 bucks or something if I did. I comment on other people's blogs when I've got something to say; there's no particular rhyme or reason or calculation to who I include on my blogroll, and I rarely keep it updated. (Note to self: time to update the blog roll!) I don't state a comment policy on the page, and I'm not particularly good about responding thoughtfully to all comments that people offer here. I don't tend to link around a lot in my posts, and I don't draft and edit the things that I post here. In other words, this is a casual space for me, and I don't take a whole lot of interest in managing it, though of course I have been a more active manager of it when it's been necessary (i.e., when the trolls come out to play).

I chose the pseudonym Dr. Crazy because I never thought I'd really be a "blogger" and it was a name that came to mind because "Crazy's" been a nickname that appeared in my personal life in a variety of contexts. And then I was stuck with it. I think it's as good a name as any, ultimately. I've never been great about protecting my real life identity, and I write in this space as if everybody here knows exactly who I am, or could find out with a minimum of research. I do not think that I'm anonymous, nor do I think that I can write anything I please under this pseudonym. In fact, an interesting result of this experiment is that I've realized I'm much freer to write or to say whatever the heck pops into my head under my real name - whereas there are a whole lot of constraints on "Dr. Crazy."

I think the idea that blogging must in some way impede scholarship, or that it is a "distraction" from one's "real work" is crap. Or, perhaps more accurately, the idea that blogging is more of a distraction than any other hobby, interest, or pastime is crap. I spend no more than a couple of hours on a given day on my blog - and most days I spend much less. In my experience, blogging has had little to no relationship to my scholarly ideas or to my productivity. I suspect my cv would look nearly exactly the same had I never become a blogger.

That said, I think I'm a lot happier as a scholar and academic because I blog. Not because I use this space to spew vitriol about the various parts of my job (I actually really try to avoid that, though I don't always succeed) but rather because this space is a free one in which I can work through things that are on my mind related to the job: meeting deadlines for research, teaching issues, stuff related to the profession, service issues. It's a space in which I am forced to think critically about my role as a worker and a thinker, even if I rarely write about the specifics of what I'm actually doing. I'm forced to put myself into a broader context, and I think that is both liberating and good for the sanity. Additionally, in putting myself into that broader context, I get to have conversations with people across disciplines and across positions of hierarchy, and those conversations are the thing that keep me posting. I like being part of the conversation. I like that I make a space where such conversations can happen. (In this regard, blogging attracts me for many of the same reasons that teaching does.)

If blogging has any positive impact on my professional life, aside from the conversation and community part of things, it has been that through blogging I've really begun to own my voice as a writer. No, my scholarly stuff does not read the way that my prose on the blog reads. But I think blogging has helped me to think in more concrete ways about writing as a practice, and I think this does translate into stronger writing in my scholarship. I'm much more aware of audience now than I was before blogging, and that is a good thing. I'm also much more aware of how one develops a persona through writing, which bleeds into all sorts of professional writing situations, from writing a syllabus to writing an article to writing an email to my department chair.

Anyway. The big question that's been rattling around for me since earning tenure is whether I should link the blog to my professional identity - whether I should, like, for example, Tenured Radical or Historiann, blog under a pseudonym but yet make it clear who I actually am as I write this blog. This has been something I've thought about a lot pre-tenure, but now, well, the moment is here, right? I toyed with the idea of posting my name at the moment of achieving tenure; I toyed with the idea of changing around my identifying information so that with just a few clicks people would end up at my professional identity. The thing is, I am pretty invested in "Dr. Crazy" as an identity, now, and I can't imagine totally abandoning it to write a blog under my real name. Part of what has made this space special for me is that it's not a professional document. "Dr. Crazy" makes that possible in a lot of ways. On the other hand, I think it's sort of bullshit that I don't feel comfortable writing in the way that I write here under my actual name. And you know, I still don't feel comfortable with that, even though I've got tenure. People would still judge me for the length of the posts here ("she must spend all of her time on her blog and not on The Life of the Mind!") or they'd judge the posts here not on their content but on my cv ("Crazy's article on x is so stupid, or she only works at y institution so her ideas don't matter, or who the hell does she think she is?"). The fact of the matter is, "Dr. Crazy" has a fuck of a lot more authority on her own than she would if my real life name and institutional affiliation were explicitly attached. This in spite of the haters who think that people with pseudonyms can't be trusted. Though, of course, this may reveal more about my own fears about my status in the profession than anything else.

So, I guess what I've come to is that this blog works for me and this space works for me - as is. I tell people in my life about it as it comes up; I reveal my identity to people when the situation arises that it's useful to do so. I assume that people know who Dr. Crazy is when I write, and I stand by what I write in this space. I no longer beat myself up for weeks of lame posts (weeks of lame posts just happen periodically if one keeps a blog longer than a few months) and I no longer think I suck if there are times when I don't write regularly (which I totally did early on). I've made a writing space for myself in which I don't feel like I need to please anybody or do anything in any particular way. That is satisfying, especially when so much of my professional life is about dotting i's and crossing t's and following rules and pleasing people.

So yes. I'm an academic. And I've got a blog. Lots of people read it, for which I'm grateful, because much of my impulse to continue the blog has to do with fact that people read what I write and respond to it. I feel almost completely disconnected from my academic writing once I submit it to the editor, and journaling is good for rambling rants about emotions and things, but what kind of a tool journals about mentoring in higher education, for example? No, this is a special and important space for me. And at least for the immediate future, it will remain that.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009


Hello and Howdy, readers! I've returned home from what was a very FULL visit to Hometown. A very good visit, but wowza - lots of visiting. Some highlights:
  • I saw my 88-year-old Italian Great-Aunt, who noted both that I've gained weight and that I really need to get busy with finding a husband and having a baby. She also cheffed up some sausage and peppers for lunch (not exactly assisting with my weight, we should note), and told the story of her First Love (not my uncle) and showed us his picture (Hottie McHotterson), and then told us of the INSANE way that my uncle proposed to her. (Apparently he "tormented" her (teasing, being annoying) for over a year, then one day asked her to go for a ride with him and PROPOSED - before they'd even had a real date. He said he'd give her three months to think about it. Apparently she laughed in his face, but by way of explanation when I was all, "What the hell?" she responded, "well, you know he had no upbringing." Her mom was totally in favor of the engagement - even though my aunt had never actually gone out with him. This is also a woman who loves poker (though no longer plays because everybody but one of her cronies is dead, and the only one left has alzheimers), swears like a sailor and says hideously politically incorrect things (example: she's got a grandson who married an Asian woman, and my aunt showed me pictures of their kids and made a point to note that these were the "oriental" grandkids, though she's pleased that their eyes aren't very slanted?!?!?!). It occurs to me that if I married MY first love that my aunt would totally endorse this, not because of my happiness but rather because he is Italian (even if he is West Side Italian, which is, as we all know, not ideal).
  • I saw my grandmother on my father's side, for the first time in years. It was a very nice visit, and I'm glad to have seen her. She gave me lots of pictures from when I was little, including some oldies of my dad and my mom (who seriously looked like she was 12 when she had me). If I can get it together to scan them, I may post a few here.
  • I saw my Tayta (step-dad G's mom) and that was good, although she talks in Arabic and I talk in English so a lot is lost in the translation. She fed me kibbeh and lubyi bi zeit and hummus (and yes, I have perfected my hummus so that it tastes like hers! huzzah!) but she's had such a hard life and the loss of G's brother a couple of years ago is still really hard on her. She just worries so much. I wish she were happier.
  • I went shopping with my mom and hit MAJOR sales at Dillards and Macy's (spent only like a hundred bucks and got a ton, including two Wacoal bras which cost only 11 and 8 bucks respectively - score!)
  • My mom and I went and had a mani/pedi together.
  • I hung out with A. all Saturday night, and we gossipped about fashion and family and friends and work. And I got to meet her new puppy, who for the purposes of this blog is named Biscuit (the name I wanted for the puppy, as opposed to what they chose).
  • I hung out with my cousins and their kids (four daughters - ages 11, 8, 6, and 3 months - this was the first time I got to see the new addition to the family!) and it was AWESOME. I love little more than a 3-month-old baby. She's just at the age where she's all about holding onto a finger and she laughs and is DARLING. That said, other ages of babies are nice, too, but I love a baby that is not yet toddling and crawling and yet also not super-duper infant tiny. And it was fun to be able to tell the other girls what they were like as babies, too, for they were all so different and yet all were great with me. My mom is hilarious with a baby by-the-by in that she has absolutely no interest in babies until they are walking and talking. My mom held Sarah for only five minutes and then totally lost interest. This was great, as it meant I got to hold Sarah for longer :)
And that's about it. Now I'm back home, and tomorrow morning I have a meeting with the Committee That Has Grown Out of the Super Intense Committee - in other words, it never ends. That said, I volunteered for it because our department should really have representation as things move forward, and well, apparently I'm into serving in this particular way. I've also got to finish revisions on the Collection Article that Has Languished for Five Years (I'm actually beyond the initial deadline, but I made the executive decision that it was ok to get it in a few days late - after letting the editors know, though, so I'm really not as big of a jerk as I feel like I am for making that executive decision), finish the revisions on the Journal Article that was accepted with minor revisions, and revise the book review taking BFF's insightful feedback into account. I've also got some stuff to do around the house. And then, a week from Thursday, I go to visit FL for my 35th birthday weekend! Huzzah!

In other words, the next week promises to be busy, and then I have a mini-break, and then the school year gets into full swing. During my 8 hours in the car (4 hours to hometown and 4 hours back) I had some Deep Thoughts about my aims for my 35th year as well as about entering my 6th year of blogging, and I promise to post about those soon (once I've gotten my head on straight and gotten all of my other stuff done).

Now I must attempt to wade through my bloglines. Dude, you people post a LOT!