Not a good day.
The work that was going so well yesterday did not do so today. I don’t know what happened between yesterday and today but today’s session was almost the exact opposite of yesterday’s. People didn’t agree with the ideas that were proposed yesterday; they were too difficult to enact or they would be met with too much resistance or they weren’t worth burning bridges or they wouldn’t fit into the big picture or they weren’t as interesting or they didn’t come with a pony – whatever the reason, there was always something.
Except for the things that were personal, of course. Colleague A thinks we should add a course on unicorns – and she just happens to study unicorns. Colleague B thinks we should add fingerpainting in one of the classes – and she just happens to teach that class. Colleague C thinks we should increase the chocolate ration to one of the classes – and she just happens to teach that class.
The kicker is that I suggested these things. I’m in favor of unicorns and fingerpainting and chocolate; they’re all things that would improve our program. I’ll do the paperwork and go to the meetings and make the arguments to get them approved, and I’ll be doing that in good faith. I should get to teach the new and improved courses, and the increased chocolate ration would free me from teaching about root vegetables so, really, it’s a win-win.
So, why am I so miserable? Maybe because the big ideas, the things that would make a marked difference, are the things no one is willing to work toward. Maybe because people were talking over my ideas today and then exclaiming in delight when someone joined our meeting and suggested the exact same things. Maybe because I feel like I just can’t make a difference here when it comes to the big picture. Maybe because many of the things we have to do – not the new stuff being proposed but the required stuff that has to happen – will fall to me, either because I’m the chair or because I usually teach the affected course, and that stuff is tedious and difficult and imposed from outside.
It’s like this – and I can’t claim the analogy, this is all Cool Friend: I feel like I’m in a park, picking up trash. It’s a big park, and there’s lots of trash, but there’s some satisfaction in feeling like I’m making some progress. People walk through the park; they stop and express their pleasure in the work I’m doing – then they thrown their trash on the ground, beside the trash can, and continue on their way.
That. That’s how I feel. And here’s a good example. I’m the chair of the program next year; it’s a rotating position so I rotate off next spring. That semester, though, I’m on my fellowship, so I’m excluded from service requirements. I can choose to do them but I don’t have to, so I’d prefer not to; I want to study – the whole point of the fellowship. So, in a discussion today, I mentioned this whole situation and suggested that the person following me could just move up a semester. And that person actually said they’d need to think about it.
No, that is not what you say. You say, “Sure, you’ve done a good job for us the last few years so enjoy the fellowship; I have to do it soon enough so one more semester won’t bother me.” You don’t make a face, and sigh, and remind us that you’ll have to do a big accreditation report while you’re chair – as if that somehow mitigates taking it the semester that doesn’t involve the big report. Pull your weight for once; put that one extra ounce of effort into the job; acknowledge that you’ve had a pretty easy ride the last nine years because your colleagues have been doing the heavy lifting. I had f* cancer, for god’s sake, not to mention three back surgeries, and no one had to pick up my slack. I missed exactly two weeks of work in all that time, and that was only because of an emergency surgery that didn’t allow me to plan accordingly; even then, you didn’t take any of the six classes I missed at the end of the semester.
Yes, I’m being pissy, I realize that. I’m whining and throwing a temper tantrum and having a meltdown. My colleagues do much more than I realize; they are fundamentally good people who almost always do what’s asked of them; they are generally thoughtful and pleasant and amenable. I’m the mercurial one, the one that wants to push back and hurry up and question why and say no. I’m sure they’re at home, telling their spouses what a nut job they have to work with and praying I’ll just stop trying to get my way on things that they have no interest in changing.
Needless to say, I will never go into administration.