Friday, April 29, 2016

We are nearing the end of a mostly good, but very long month.

I've not met the deadline I was hoping to, but I've made more progress than I expected.

The kid has some sort of gut thing. Either her tummy is just out of whack, or there's something else going on, in any case, we have to get a stool sample to the doc as soon as she poops during business hours. I don't understand though how if a kid poops through their diaper they have to stay home the next day, but if a kid poops in his underwear, which is uncontained, then why he gets to stay there. I know accidents happen, but the kid has like adult sized poops because she doesn't eat crap like the kids at school. Anyway, enough waxing on the poop...

I show up to every single fucking department event. Every single one of them. I haven't missed an event or meeting yet (unless the meeting was in conflict with another meeting). I even showed up to the faculty research thing in the middle of a fucking severe thunderstorm and flash flooding warning, and was one of the three people from the entire department there. I could not attend the poetry reading last night. The first fucking event I've missed since I was pregnant. LET ME SAY THAT AGAIN: THE FIRST EVENT I'VE MISSED SINCE I WAS PREGNANT, so the first event in FOUR FUCKING YEARS I've not been able to attend--

Boss: You were not there last night. You missed the poetry reading last night.
Me: Yes, it was impossible for me to make it. I couldn't be there. I let [event organizer] know that I would not be able to attend. (I was careful not to mention childcare or anything).
Boss: Yes, but you weren't there. There were no students there. [uh, okay?]. Many people noticed that you were conspicuously absent.
Me: Well, I couldn't make it. The email was only sent out last week.
Boss: We've had posters up for two weeks.
Me: Well, I couldn't make it.

I'm kicking myself for not thinking fast enough to point out that I've not missed an event in FOUR GODDAMN YEARS!

It's clear that whatever I do is not enough, and whatever I do not do is as damning as if I had held a kitten sacrifice for a Satanic Ritual during the speaker's presentation.

I know stuff like this shouldn't shut me down, but it does. And it makes me want to spit at my boss. I know that's hostile, but whatever. Yes, I understand as an untenured junior faculty member up for tenure next year means that I must attend everything, but I do attend EVERYTHING. More than Prince Colleague and other colleague up for tenure this year. My list of attendance at functions like these over the past five years is one page single spaced. Which, yes, I know that given that in my tenure portfolio, it will over shadow the one event I didn't attend, and if whoever is looking at it goes, "well, she missed that one event last year, denied" then they had no intention of supporting me anyway. I know no one even three weeks from now will remember that (or maybe a vindictive person will), and it's probably true that my absence will be more of a focus than my male colleague's absence, but whatever. It's still demoralizing and it shuts me down when I have shit to do.

That being said, I'm really going to miss my alone time with my kid. I by no means want this to be anything permanent (we both miss her dad lots!), and I have more to say about this, but I don't want all the good things about my month to be thrown in with my boss's asshattery. Perhaps I am unjustly hard on my boss, but Boss makes it very hard for me not to be.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Unlikely support

Remember last week when I was saying that I wanted more time with Magpie? I got it!

She had to stay home from daycare on Wednesday, and then I kept her home on Thursday because I had to make sure that she was able to go on Friday.

But the nights were rough. Since she's had not really bouts of diarrhea (sorry), Saturday was really the only day it would classify as that, she's clearly had some stomach issues, and I had been letting her stay up about 15 minutes past her bedtime in the hopes that she'd work stuff out, so to speak, before bed. Mistake. Those 15 minutes meant that it took her an hour and a half to settle down, which means that I went ape shit on her. Twice. I'm not proud of myself. I redeemed my psychotic mom tendencies last night though when I let her work it out on her own--she just couldn't get comfortable--and normally I'm in there checking diapers and what not. But I left her alone, and we both had better nights.

Except this pressure from the rain is giving me a terrible headache. It hurts so bad I can hardly keep my eyes open. I'm sure it's also the stress of the last two weeks, too.

I have some more good news? positive news perhaps is a better word that has made me feel significantly better about my place here. First, the written review that my boss put in my tenure file seems to indicate a positive push toward tenure, even though what she tells me leaves me feeling iffy. However, I was talking with the Honors Director on an unrelated topic and he asked me how my eval went, and how I was feeling about going up next year. I told him that I don't feel that confident, like it could go either way. He asked why, and I told him about the research issue, and told him some other comments my boss has made (which was then later corroborated by another colleague in another department, not that the HD needed it, but just confirmed things he had been suspicious of for a while anyway). Long story short, even though he's not on the committee, he told me that there are problems with the administration (chair and dean who no one really off of our floor likes and/or trusts and are disappointed in, etc.,), but that he felt I should be fine, and if in the unlikely event that something does happen, he said to let him know and he will go to bat for me with the President (and indicated that another colleague who is close with the President would back me up as well). And you know, whether it has any effect (and I think it would because they have pull with people other than the dean and chair), what I need to hear is that someone supports me, and that someone in power recognizes that I am being treated differently by the department because I'm female (which he told my other colleague who said he also felt this was the case). Basically, it does, in this case, turn out to not be me that's the problem.

I will note, too, that the HD has been, since I've been here, the one person in administration I've felt I could trust, and when I have big questions, he's the one I ask (not the chair, not the dean, not my colleagues in my department--I will go to colleague in other department), not the least of which is because I know whatever I say to these two does not go directly back to the chair or dean. I have found some real solid support in perhaps a couple of unlikely places, but they are places that can have some powerful support in my favor. And that's nice to know. (It also means that I don't have to get cozy with a dean who stares at my chest and oggles me every time I see him. I am not comfortable in the dean's presence at all. HD? Totally).

Anyway, a giant weight has been lifted, and my anxiety levels have dropped considerably, which is important because I get more work done when I'm not battling anxiety and depression all at once. I feel now that the work I'm doing does have value, that it does count toward tenure, and that someone supports me within the college, and that now I might really be able to get some stuff done. That's a nice thing to have happen. I feel better now. And it's also good to know that I have really at least three sounding boards of level headed people who see the things I was worried were just in my head.

That is a relief. Really.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

More all the stuffs, Pt. 2--The Positive Stuff

Everyone has been gone since about the 3rd of April. It's been just me and the kid. I was worried. I was worried that she was going to be missing everyone and it was going to be stressful.

It has been AMAZING. Oh my god. We had the best week last week. And the best weekend. And if nothing else, this past week and weekend has actually made me want tenure more because that will mean more time with her. I was bemoaning that if I didn't have so much to do on the Tuesdays and Thursdays I have off we could play hooky and do more stuff. That is my goal. Seriously, our time together has been so wonderful that it brings tears to my eyes. Yes, I know that makes me sound like a WE movie, but still. Sadly, for me, it will be our only weekend alone, just the two of us. My sister is coming this weekend to watch Magpie so I can go to a meeting most of the day Saturday and not have to take Mags. And last week I told her she could come up every weekend if she wanted to (because her husband will be busy and not home), and I hate to say that I regret that now because I want my alone time with Magpie. I thought the weekend was going to be rough, and it wasn't. At all. I had such little faith in us.

My aunt is coming in next week to watch Magpie in the evenings so I can attend the faculty research thing and go to the Shakespeare day keynote, and not have to have the Mags tag along.

And I was a little stressed out for myself last week because I was worried about working out and the food situation--with my schedule that my boss gave me, it's hard to cook on the days I work. There's no time between the time I pick up Mags and the time she goes to bed, and it's especially difficult if she needs a bath. Also, there's no time for me to work out five of the days of the week with no one to watch her (I work out at 5 am MWF, but can't do that now). However, I had forgotten that our box has a food service thing and you can order healthy meals and pick them up on Mondays, so I did that for this week. And then I forgot that I had In$anity! For three years I've forgotten about this, which would have solved many things for me. So now I can just work out at home! I might lose some weight in my lifts, but it will help with the cardio and body weight stuff, so that's good. I was worried about going a month without anything.

There's more positive stuff I think, but the kid is up. The big one though is just how wonderful it has been with just me and her. It melts my heart how so fantastic these last 10 days have been.

All the stuffs, Pt. 1--The Negative

Here's an update on life:

1. Annual Eval. In some ways, one of the better ones I've had. Boss must have been in a good mood. However, there are a few things about the meeting that bothered me. When she asks what I'm working on and I tell her, these are the two responses I get: "That's a lot. I don't think you'll have time for that." (Wow, thanks for the encouragement and support). "That's probably not really worth working on unless you have something else because people are going to look down on that." (Oh, I'm sorry I'm not writing for an internet magazine like you. Again, thanks for your support). "Well, X is the minimum. You're going to need more than that." (Really. So for the last four years when you've been telling me all I need is X, I now need more). In response to "this will put me over the minimum"--"Well, yeah, but only if you can do it." (Again, thank you for the encouragement and support).

There's nothing like being excited about your work and having a plan and your boss indicating that a) what you're doing is unreasonable while exerting pressure about how much you have to do and that b) what you're doing isn't worthwhile anyway. And I should point out that her degree isn't even in English anyway and is removed from literature and totally and completely ignorant of my field. However, I understand that she probably knows the the feeling of the committee, so I'm not discounting what she says, but some support by way of encouragement would be nice.

Another thing that is bothering me is the comment she made on how I've "done nothing" since having the baby and how that's going to look and it doesn't matter if she's been sick the last 2.5 years or not. Because I guess a sick child isn't given the same weight as all those people who miss work to care for their aging and sick parents. I digress. First of all, that's a loaded statement on her part. It's true that I've not gotten anything published since having the baby, but to say that I've done nothing is disingenuous. Unlike the other person going up for tenure, I present at the major conference in my field every.single.year. No, it doesn't have the same weight as publications at all, but it's not as if I've just been sitting back not doing anything. But that's not even the part that really bothers me about all of this. Prince Colleague has the minimum because he has a publication from grad school that they're counting. And only one work since he's been here (if you want to look at page count, mine's higher total regarding work here), albeit in a nice journal (the other pub from grad school isn't "high end"). But of course that makes all the difference. However, what bothers me is if people are going to judge me based on what I haven't done post-baby, why is no one saying "Why hasn't Prince done more? He's single. Not married. He should have a much more solid publication base." If my lack of work is going to be challenged/penalized by my family status, that should his not be?

I think the assumption is that a) he puts so much energy into teaching and b) publishing is hard! he's probably been trying.

This angers me.

I'm busting my ass with little encouragement and support (not to mention that my boss and my "mentor" look at me sideways when I mention my research as if I'm making stuff up--seriously. My boss's eye starts twitching when I talk about my work. Her eye twitches when she's angry or displeased), and Prince gets one nice pub (three years ago) and they're ready to honor him at the faculty research day (to be fair, he didn't make the cut, and hasn't failed to mention the research day at all, like 5 times I've heard about this and how's he's soooo happy he doesn't have to participate).

Perhaps I'll be less antagonistic when I actually get my stuff finished. But I feel like my boss has set up a hostile place for me where I see everything as antagonistic. I'm trying not to though. I don't want to shoot myself in the foot.

2. Boss has mentioned a couple of times how popular Prince's and Other Colleague's (who is way super supportive of me, so I have no beef with him at all) classes are, indicating that mine are not. I think it has less to do with me than the group of majors that thankfully are getting ready to graduate. I have a couple of students who are loving the stuff in the women's lit class right now. But the one's who are Prince's groupies mostly just zone out. For example, one emailed me yesterday to tell me that she is going to miss my class because she not only hasn't bothered to read for my class but she's skipping my class so that she be prepared for her other class (offered by Other Colleague). So not only are you telling me that you haven't bothered to do anything for my class but you're emailing me the night before to tell me that you're still not even going to try to get anything done for my class, but you are going to skip my class so that you can keep reading for your other class? I don't know what it is. The first group of students I had were great. This group just has no respect for me at all. I don't know. Maybe I am less engaged post baby? Maybe it's because my boss has me so stressed and anxious that that is carrying over into my teaching? I don't know. Oh well.

Anyway. I can only do what I can do. I actually think the class I'm teaching right now is one of the best classes I've taught. I'm never struggling for stuff to say. I've got all of this material to talk about. I'm better at breaking the supplementary material up so it's not like a whole hour of lecturing. I think it's pretty amazing. From my end. The students seem to be the ones aggravated by the class. So why take it? I love this stuff. And I'm super excited about the class I'm doing in the fall. So I will teach to those who are excited about the current class and who are getting something out of it.