Wednesday, November 24, 2010

My grandmother

My grandmother died on Monday morning.  She was 85 and had not been in the best of health; however, her death came as a bit of a shock.  On Friday evening, my aunt and uncle, with whom my grandparents live, took them out to dinner, at my grandmother's request.  When the returned home, my grandmother, who suffered from senility, complained of a headache and went to her room to change into her pajamas.  She passed out, and Aunt F went to her while my uncle called the paramedics.  They then called my other aunt, who is a cardiac care nurse, and she instructed Aunt F on how to administer CPR.  When the paramedics arrived, they had to intubate Gram, even though that is not something she would have wanted.  By late Saturday afternoon, it was apparent that Gram had suffered severe brain damage, likely due to being deprived of oxygen.  Ironically, her heart never stopped beating. 

Archer, the boys, and I left for the States on Sunday around 10:00 am.  By 8:30 Sunday night, I was sitting with my Gram, as I called her, holding her hand.  It was clear to me, however, that my Gram was not present, something my youngest aunt, Aunt S, wholeheartedly agreed with.  She had already discussed turning off Gram's ventilator with her siblings, including my mom, and they had all agreed, with deep reservations.  My mom arrived later that evening, around 10, and at mine and Aunt S's urging, my Gram was taken off the ventilator around 11:15 Sunday night, and she died at 5:50 Monday morning.  She was a great lady, who did not hesitate to tell you what she thought.  In fact, she strongly disapproved of many of my life choices, arguing that I didn't need to pursue my doctorate and that I needed to stay home with Wild Man and Bear.  As long as Archer had a good job, she argued there was no need for me to work, and certainly no need for me to be so educated, as she put it.  While she never hesitated to tell me these things, she also ended every conversation we had by saying, "I love you so much, M."  I know my Gram didn't approve of all my choices, but I never doubted how much she loved me and my boys. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good for the soul

That is what listening to Wild Man's running commentary while he colors is.


I received an email last night (who sends these sorts of things out on Saturday night?) telling me that the essay I submitted to THE journal in my field hadn't been accepted.  It was the nicest rejection I've ever gotten. I also received feedback from two reviewers.  The first reviewer's tone was a bit jerky, although the comments were helpful.  The second reviewer said the essay is original and well written, but that I need to reframe the argument a bit.  That makes sense to me.  It doesn't make me happy because it means a lot of work--work that I don't have time to sit down and do write now since I'm teaching 3 courses that involve a lot of grading--as in I just returned a stack of papers, have 2 more stacks to grade, and get another stack this week.  I can do the revisions, but they aren't, unfortunately, the kinds of revisions that I can do quickly and send the essay back out next week.  So now I get to think for a while and try to figure out where to go from here.  I've been slowly revising another essay that I could focus on for the next few weeks (when I'm not grading and sending out job letters).  With any luck, I could have that out by December so that I still have something on my CV that is under review.  I feel like I need that to be somewhat competitive on the market.

And while I knew this journal was a long shot, I was really hoping for a revise and resubmit.  I need some positive feedback on my work--something more than "this is original and well written, but the argument doesn't make sense."

Friday, November 12, 2010

To the student who addresses emails to Mrs. Archer

Dear Student,

Thank you for the email asking me to read your essay for your political science class.  I'll be sure to get right on that since I don't teach political science.  I'm happy to help you in any way possible.  You'll forgive me if I can't comment on content as I'm not a political scientist, and you'll understand if you don't get it back right away since I have a stack of my own students' papers to grade.

I'd also like to remind you that I introduced myself to class as Dr. M on the first day, and I made it very clear that I prefer to be addressed in that way.  My name is not now nor has it ever been Mrs. Archer.  In fact the only person who uses that name is my mother-in-law, who not only does not know how to use email but is even less likely to be willing to proofread your political science essay for you.  In the future, direct all emails to Dr. M--that is if you want me to respond.

Dr. M

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Progress for me at CU

As I've written (or at least as I think I've written), Archer and I have met with the Faculty Retention Officer of CU (I'll call her J), and she's become a great advocate for us in terms of trying to negotiate a more permanent position for me at CU.  I think it helps that we know each other outside of the university (Wild Man goes to JK and daycare with her daughter, and Bear and her son were in the same daycare room all last winter) and that we like each other personally (we've been to lunch twice, once professionally and again just because we like each other).  I ran into J picking Wild Man up from JK the other day, and she said something along the lines of, "I've passed your info onto the Provost, and he has already spoken to Dr. English and Dr. Writing.  Next week he has a meeting to discuss this with the dean of your faculty. I don't know what will happen, but I wanted you to know that you haven't been forgotten."  So this seems like good news, right?  But, as usual, I took it with a grain of salt.  I told Archer, but at this point, neither of us is putting much stock in anything.

Monday morning Dr. Nice Guy (in case you're losing track of all my pseudonyms, Dr. Nice Guy is the former chair of Archer's department) stopped Archer and said, "What has J told you?"  Archer said, "Well, she's really talked to M, so you should ask her."  Dr. Nice Guy found me later that day and asked me what I knew.  I relayed the info that J had passed on, and I also told him that I know that "Dr. Writing and Dr. English have been talking about me.  They have both written letters for my job letters, and both have explicitly told me they will do what they can to keep me at CU.  Beyond that, I don't know much."  He then said, "Well I got a phone call from the dean this weekend asking my opinion, and I told them how wonderful you are.  I don't really know what's happening beyond general conversation, but I wanted you to know that the dean is finally paying attention.  I think that's progress."

I guess it is, right?   

Narrowly avoided

So one of the unbloggable issues has been resolved, and now I feel like I can blog about it--cryptically.  The issue was career related, and it was a university wide issue.  It has something to do with contract negotiations.  All part-time faculty members at CU now have new contracts, and while they are far from perfect, they are significantly better than what they were.  I'm relieved.  A potentially bad situation for me professionally and for us personally has been narrowly avoided thanks, in part, to Dr. Writing's mad negotiation skills.

Friday, November 05, 2010

A brief update

I've been thinking about my earlier post since I put it up, and I've seriously considered taking it down for a variety of reasons.  I'm going to leave it up, however, because writing it has helped me come to the realization that I'm in a big place of self doubt right now.  And I need to try to move past that.  I'm also  slowly starting to understand that just because Archer and I see us as a package deal professionally doesn't mean that every one else does.  I need to not doubt myself or us because of other people's perceptions.

And that is my profound thought of the day.

I don't know what to write

*Warning: As I wrote this post, I seriously contemplated deleting it because I know I sound like a whiny little bitch in this post.  I don't enjoy sounding like a whiny little bitch, but I'm trying to process all of this so that I feel and sound less like a whiny little bitch.

I have a lot of stuff swirling around in my brain, but I'm not sure what to write about.  A lot of the things I'm thinking are angry, irrational, and just down right ugly.  I've been thinking a lot about my previous post, and I want to say something really deep and profound about my feelings regarding Archer's current and potential professional success.  But I'm neither thinking nor feeling something deep or profound.  I have figured out why I'm bothered by this particular visit and the comments made by Dr. Bigwig and his partner (who is also an emerging scholar in the field of underwater basket weaving).

Both apparently questioned Archer about the job market and the possibility that he could leave CU.  Now, CU is a Research 1 institution.  Archer has access to a fair amount of research money (in fact, he's been awarded three internal research grants in the 2 years we've been here).  He is expected to do research, and he is getting a lot done.  His work is important for lots of reasons, but primarily because his read of a particular underwater basket is changing how all underwater baskets are viewed in the Gulf of Mexico during the Early Modern Period.  Given his work, I totally get why he wants to stay at CU.  Hell, I'd like to stay at CU.  I've been working on some projects of my own that would be much easier for me to accomplish if I were t-t at CU.  But here's the thing.  I'm not t-t.  I have no access to research money.  In fact, aside from getting reimbursed for professional memberships, I don't get anything in the way of support.  But I digress.

When Dr. Bigwig and his partner (sorry, I know this person deserves a pseudonym, but I'm all tapped out right now) questioned Archer about where he'd accept a position, he gave his standard response: "We'll go where M and I are both able to secure t-t positions." They apparently made some comments like, "Well, you're doing such important work.  We hope you won't consider a position at a place that won't allow you to keep up with your research."  So they don't want him to take a job at a school that is primarily focused on teaching.  I get that; I really do.  And before I type the next sentence, I also get that they don't know me.  They don't know anything about my work or what I do.  But as Archer relayed this whole story, I just got more and more pissed off because I was thinking, as I wrote in my last post, "But what about me?"

I'm so tired of hearing: "Archer is so great.  He's so smart.  He needs to be at an R1.  You can't leave CU, M.  It wouldn't be fair to him."  (OK, so no one has ever said the last two sentences, but I feel like that is heavily implied.  Or perhaps I'm extremely paranoid and am inferring it.)  Every time Archer goes to a conference or a faculty meeting, this is the message he comes back with.  It pisses me off.  It pisses me off because I feel like these people, who don't know me, who don't know anything about our marriage, and who don't know anything about my abilities, are thinking, "Wow, she is really selfish for asking him to move away from such a great gig.  She has a job, and while it isn't t-t, it is a good job.  She makes more money than she would in the States.  Given all his success, it makes more sense for them just to stay at CU, even if she isn't ever offered a t-t position.  His work is so important that they need to focus on him.  They don't even know if she's publishable."  And why does it bother me so much that these people I don't even know may or may not be thinking these things?  Well, apparently, here's where blogging leads to an epiphany: because that is what I think about myself. 

As I type this long, rambling post, I realize that I have no idea what my career would be like.  Yes, I have my doctorate.  Yes, I know I'm an excellent teacher, and I am a pretty good writer.  But no one has shown the interest in my work that people have shown in Archer's.  Maybe it would be better if I just reconciled myself to reaching part time so that Archer can focus on his work and secure tenure.  Maybe that is what makes the most sense for our family.

But I know that isn't what makes the most sense for me.