Saturday, April 28 that was formatted much more like the NFL draft.

Imagine the world watching as schools deliberate over who to hire this year. Will they fill the position that's weakest in their department, or go for the top pick remaining, or will they throw a curveball (I realize that's a baseball term) by choosing someone who is completely unexpected?

Imagine the candidates, dressed in their Sunday best, surrounded by family and friends (who just want them to go somewhere, and soon, and would never suggest that they try for a job at the community college close to home). It's okay to look nervous, to be apprehensive, and there are agents, there to walk you through the process and assure you that today is YOUR day.

Imagine the coverage, with people in the top of your field (or has-beens, or pretty faces), sitting around a table talking about every detail of your performance - the weaknesses in your vita, your stamina, and how you work under pressure - and offering agreement or criticism of every choice that schools made.

The worst, though, would be that 15 minutes that the schools have to choose, with the world waiting with bated breath, until they have to walk across the stage to a podium and "select" their choice to a round of applause or jeers.

I have no opinion one way or the other, but I wonder what it would have been like folding laundry in front of a bunch of fellow academics, exposing just how awful (and absurd) the selection process can be, regardless of your chosen profession.
Friday, April 27
Today is the last day of classes here at Mid-Tier-University, and I am indescribably happy! I am, in fact, probably even happier than my students, who are ecstatic about escaping the rigorous horror that they just realized was the difference between lower and upper division courses. Every time I think about not hearing "But why can't we just use numbers? there's an equation right there!" for the whole summer, I want to break into song. Better even than that, though, is the realization that, after grades are submitted, I have a summer -- an entire, complete, glorious summer -- to do research!

This has been an excruciating term, because for the first time I had students who resented having to think, to work, to meet expectations, who seemed to really believe that showing up was all it took (and who then seemed to think that it was appropriate to complain to my chair when it turned out that they were wrong). And then there's the gender thing -- "but you're supposed to be nice! and nurturing! Why can't I turn in late work? You're mean!" -- where they express levels of entitlement that they'd never show to a male colleague.

The term has also been excruciating because, as hard as I've tried, I haven't been able to salvage any time for my own research, so I feel as though -- in addition to wasting my efforts and care and concern on students who wouldn't even grasp that I was doing them some favors (yes, I'll teach extra evening sessions to help you understand the material that was a prequisite for the course, but, um, yes, you need to do the reading) -- I made absolutely no progress toward tenure. I expect my evaluations will be bimodal (about half strong, and half awful, really), but the time I spent focusing on the course will be directly counted against progress securing additional external funding.

I don't think I have ever been more thrilled about a term ending. Usually I'm pleased in a nebulous sense, because hey, a week of fluff reading and then more term! And I have all these great ideas for that term, and research too! (That last sentence isn't sarcasm -- it's a pretty accurate read on how I've felt in the past.) This term has taken too much out of me, and right now, the thought of teaching again -- ever -- makes me want to sob. So here's my secret: I don't want to go back. I never want to see these people again -- colleagues or students -- and I think I made a terrible mistake.

But the term's over. Small mercies, but mercy all the same.
Tuesday, April 17
This post on Adam Kotsko's blog is absolutely hilarious. Highlights:

"For years now, in a blog tradition that is rivaled in its longevity and its enduring human relevance only by Friday Cat Blogging, I have been offering absolution to the tortured souls of the blogosphere. Offering permission seems like a natural compliment, and as I will argue in this post, it is grounded in an authority that I have already tacitly claimed as the sole authorized voice of the symbolic order -- that is, as the big Other's representative."...

"It is my belief that, in principle, any human being who is recognized by the symbolic order may function as a stand-in for the big Other. But in point of fact, it is precisely I, Adam Kotsko, who so function. On one level, that is simply a matter of "dibs," itself one of the originary functions of the symbolic order. But even though the final argument in favor of my office is simply my own claim to hold it, there are nevertheless good reasons why it should be me in particular, which I will gladly outline for you now."...
This morning, as I tried to summon the will to get out of bed, this happy thought crossed my mind, "Oh, thank god, I get to do my taxes first thing this morning, instead of working on the research project that is ruining my life and potentially driving me out of graduate school."

When filing federal taxes* seems like a blessed respite from the emotional drama of my research project, there might be room for improvements in my work-life.

And speaking of that cursed project, I've reached the point where opening the laptop and trying to work on the project feels like sitting down to coffee with someone who has just dumped you but still want to be 'friends'. To paraphrase Dorotha Harried, why do i let 80's movies happen in my research projects? haven't i learned by now?

*which I know will result in me owing a lot of money because you can't have automatic withholding of fellowship money (?!?)
Wednesday, April 4
I am pissed.

I was just blatantly disregarded in a decision that affects me directly because, I assume, of my status as a junior faculty member (and possibly as a woman). And, while I can't get into specifics for fear that it would threaten my anonymity, this is not a case where juniors shouldn't expect to have a say. This is where each person should be afforded the same respect and consideration as any other, regardless of rank.

To add insult to injury, it involves a student. What message does this send about who can be pushed around, who should be considered and who shouldn't, who can be challenged, and so forth?