Saturday, May 26, 2012


For the past two days I've been in a lovely city to attend a major conference in my field.  The time away has been nice.  The panels I've attended have been (mostly) enlightening.  I've even managed to get a bit of work done.  But after being away for an entire week earlier this month, I'm miss Wild Man and Bear, not to mention Archer.  I'm traveling home tomorrow, and while it will be a long day, I'm happy to be going home.

Friday, May 25, 2012

A bit of good news

As I blogged about previously (sorry, I'm not linking right now), the dean has been committed to securing me a T-T line at CU.  I'm not one to question a dean, but I think this goal has a lot to do with keeping Archer, who is making a name for himself in his field, here as well as with keeping me here.  The fact that I can teach in three departments means that I represent a lot of the things the dean advocates for the future of this faculty.  Plus, on my current appointment, which is not T-T but is research focused, I've had one article accepted, sent out two others for review, and secured a $17,000 (yes, you read that correctly) curriculum development grant.  I think I've demonstrated what I can do in a research focused position.  On a different note, Archer has also received around $15,000 in three separate research grants since he's been at CU.  Financially, it just doesn't make sense to get rid of us.  Thus, after RD revolted (I've heard about 7 different versions of what happened, none from anyone who was actually there, so I still have no idea what went down), the dean immediately began pursuing another appointment for me.

On Wednesday I (again) presented a job talk and was interviewed.  This time, however, the whole process took less than 3 hours.  Here is what happened:
  • 1:00--I gave my talk, following a lengthy Q&A, which turned into a fantastic conversation about my paper.
  • 2:20--I took a break, while everyone attending the talk was asked to stay and offer their feedback to the committee.
  • 2:45--my interview started.  I was asked lots of typical questions, and at one point, one committee member corrected another committee member on the content of my CV. That was weird, but it also meant I didn't have to be the one to correct the committee member who had misread my CV.
  • 3:30--I left the interview room, and the committee met to discuss my appointment.
  • 3:45--the chairs of the two departments in which I may be appointed came to my office to gleefully tell me that the committee had agreed to recommend that I be offered a T-T, joint appointment in their departments.  
I wanted to cry, literally.  They both gave me some really positive feedback on my talk and my answers during the interview, which was wonderful.  As an added bonus, one of Archer's colleagues attended my talk, and she sent him an email telling him how well she thought I did.  This is a woman whose work I know and respect, and she has a reputation for being a bit of a hard ass at such events.  She gives compliments rarely, so getting one from her means something.

Where does this leave me?  From a practical standpoint, I'm waiting to hear back from the dean's office on the terms of my contract.  I've yet to decide if I want to negotiate any of the terms.  Part of me wants to, but part of me wants to just sign the damn thing and move on.   From an emotional standpoint, this appointment feels right.  I'm not sure I can really explain why.  I will say that the response to my talk was vastly different than when I presented it during the first interview.  While I do think that it was well received that time, this time everyone in the room had offered a piece of positive feedback, and everyone remarked that the work I'm doing brings these two departments together really well.  It was an overwhelmingly positive experience.  I was nervous; I was really nervous given what happened last time.  But I left the room knowing that everyone who attended saw that my work is valuable and worthwhile.  That was not a feeling I had following the first interview.

I'm still not sure what this means for us long term.  But after a very tumultuous few months at CU, in which nearly every day raised another issue that caused me to be uncertain about how I would be treated in RD, I know now I'm in a place, both literally and metaphorically, where the people around me are committed to helping me develop as a scholar and a teacher.  That means a lot.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Moving Forward, Part 2

Moving forward after the debacle of interviewing for a position that I was repeatedly assured was mine has been harder than I thought.  At first, I experienced what I think are normal emotions: shock, anger, betrayal, confusion, more anger.  I'm trying hard to move forward.  To that end I've done a number of things that I didn't have to do, but that felt essential to maintaining my own sanity.

First, I've severed as many ties as possible with RD, without burning any bridges.  To accomplish this, I've had my name taken off of their website, and I've also had my primary affiliation on CU's website changed (this one necessitated a few phone calls).  I've relocated offices--this one was only possible because Dr. Writing, who has also had tenuous dealings with RD throughout her time at CU, understood why I didn't want to be in that department.  I've turned in my mailbox key.  I've removed my name from the faculty directory and my door.  All the while, I've thanked the staff, who have always been kind and cooperative, and I've also made sure to be courteous and polite with any RD faculty members I've had to deal with while accomplishing these tasks.  For the most part, this has been easy as the faculty members in administrative positions don't seem to be the ones who had issues with this appointment.  It likely also helps that the dean spoke directly to RD chair and told him to help me move my stuff without any question.  In fact, I think the dean, who graciously offered to have guys from the physical plant move all my boxes to my temporary office, made RD chair find the money in his budget to cover the cost.

Second, I've tried to get back to work.  I'm revising an article, which I hope to send out by next month, and I am working on an anthology proposal with two lovely colleagues, who also happen to be dear friends.

Third, I'm trying hard to focus on the positive.  I will likely end up with a T-T job once everything has settled down.  Given the state of the academic job market, securing such a position at the same university where Archer teaches is no small feat.  Plus, we're settled in CU Land.  This has, as I've suddenly realized, become home.  I really like it here.  That simple fact has enabled me to move past a lot.

I am dealing with some a bit of an identity crisis, though.  On Friday I found myself in tears after I realized that staying at CU likely means I will never teach a course in my primary field of research.  Yes, I will likely be able to focus on certain authors I study, and I will definitely be able to incorporate the genres I focus on.  But I may never teach another course on the Survey of Underwater Basket Weaving.  That was a bit hard to swallow.

For right now, I don't know what the future holds.  I know we'll be here next year.  Beyond that I can't say.  If I was asked that question a month ago, I likely would have said, "Oh, we'll be here indefinitely."  I has not in a place to even think about going back on the job market, nor was Archer.  Now I don't know.  We're taking things one day at a time.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Moving forward

Things are moving forward with a second attempt at securing me a tenure track appointment.  This process has already been infinitely more transparent and is moving faster.  I'm cautiously optimistic.  I can say my appointment will not have anything to do with Research Department.  I'm going to be cryptic for a few days until I know something more definite.

The Good and the Bad

Yetta and Pita are now home; they left on Saturday morning, so Archer, the boys, and I have had some time to settle back into our routine.  Their visit, most of which Archer and I were out of town for, went well, mostly.  I particularly enjoyed my time with Yetta, which is not always something I can say.  She and I, however, had several really long conversations.  She was incredibly supportive after the interview debacle, which was surprising.  She only asked once about the possibility of returning to the States.  For the most part, she was in a good mood, which meant I didn't need to be on edge, so we had a great visit.  I think it also helps that she's been battling a health problem that, while difficult to adapt to, has actually left her in better health. 

She has Meniere's disease, which is an disease of the inner ear.  One of the only ways to treat it without taking medication constantly is to cut sodium out of one's diet.  Doing this means she has had to change her diet drastically, which has led to some fairly dramatic weight loss.  In the past 6 months, Yetta has lost about 60 pounds, and because she can't eat fast food, has to watch what she eats when she goes out, and is determined not to suffer the effects of the disease, she has kept the weight off without a problem.  This means she gets around easier, feels better, and has more energy.  Those things mean she is a happier person. She also appreciated that Archer and I have made some changes to our diet so that it isn't much work for us to accommodate her when she comes for visit.  I've always cooked with very little salt, but I've started buying as many low-sodium or sodium free products as possible.  I also made sure she had lots of low-sodium or no-sodium things she could eat while we were gone.  She was surprised, and she said more than once how much that meant to her.  Hey, she came 1,000 miles to take care of my children; I figured that was the least I could do.

As for Pita, well, she was Pita.  Mostly she was great.  She loves the boys, and she devoted most of her attention to them, which is what I wanted and expected her to do.  She does lots of little things that grate on my nerves that I have to consciously overlook.  She never washes a dish.  NEVER.  She doesn't even take her own dish to the sink after a meal--Wild Man is 5, and he does this 85% of the time without being asked.  She doesn't push her chair under the table.  She is a large woman with a large personality, so she takes up a lot of space, both literally and figuratively.  Figuratively, she's like a big kid herself, so both Archer, Yetta, and I were constantly reminding her of the boys' schedule and to stop having tickle-fests 20 minutes before bed.  Literally, she weighs 400+ pounds.  This became an issue when she was in the kitchen while anyone was cooking.  My kitchen is not large; in fact, Archer and I struggle to cook in it together.  At some point we'll be able to redesign it, but that point is not anytime in the near future.  The size of my kitchen coupled with her size meant that I had to ask her to move several times just so I could get to the stove or the refrigerator.  She got annoyed because I asked her to move, and I got annoyed because she was in the way. 

From a different perspective, her size frustrates me because she is not in good health.  As I've said, my children love her.  I'd like her to be around for them.  I'm not sure how much longer she will be around given her myriad of health issues.  It seems that while Yetta has lost weight, Pita has gained, and there is nothing that I, who normally weighs under 110, can say to her. 

Pita has certain expectations that both Archer and I think are unreasonable, and she doesn't hesitate to make it known when her feelings have been hurt over something that really doesn't have anything to do with her.  One evening the subject of guardianship came up in a round about way (Yetta mentioned she was very nervous knowing Archer and I were on the same flight in case something happened to both of us, and we assured her that everything was taken care of financially for the boys), and Pita, who knows she has not been named as the boys' guardian, got very upset.  She actually left the dinner table and refused to speak to anyone for the remainder of the evening, including Bear and Wild Man.  So, as usual, the visit with Pita did present its own challenges.

Yetta will be back sometime in August, following the birth of #3, and I have no idea when Pita will be here.  Yetta is not fond of traveling by herself, so it is possible she would try to arrange the visit so she and Pita could travel together.  I've asked Archer to encourage her to come on her own.  It's just easier for everyone involved.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Routine

We're settling back into our routine.  It is taking longer for the boys to settle in that I expected, primarily, I think, because Yetta and Pita are still here.  They leave today, so I'm hoping that will help.  Their visit has gone well, at least as far as Yetta and I are concerned.  We've had several great conversations, and we're learning more and more about each other.  Pita, well, she's Pita. She's had a hard time stepping back now that Archer and I are home.  She is still trying to "parent" Wild Man and Bear.  It irks me whenever someone else tries to parent my children in front of me, and it especially irks me when she does it as our values are very different.  I'm fine with her caring for my children for a week, but she is not someone I would feel comfortable being a daily presence in their lives.  It's doubly hard when everything becomes about her, but I'll save that for another post.

I met with the Dean yesterday, and s/he was helpful to an extent.  I got the distinct impression s/he didn't want to answer a lot of questions, which I found troubling.  The Dean laid out the available options, but did not offer much in the way of advice.  While every questioned I asked was answered, I did feel like the Dean was, well, being a Dean.  This entire situation has put the Dean in an awkward position, and likely, the Dean realizes I have grounds for a grievance (against the Dean, against RC, against the entire appointments committee of RD).  So I'm going to attribute the hesitancy to answer questions to that.  I'm going to try to meet with one more person early in the week to ask a few more questions before I give the Dean my final answer about where I want to be appointed.  And then we'll see what we see.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012


My good friend J just emailed me.  She has offered to meet me at CU on Friday to pack up my office and then to take me out to lunch to cheer me up.  She is a wonderful friend, and I'm glad to have her in my life.  Her email, however, made the fact that I am returning to CU Land and all of the drama at CU very real. 

It seems like a small thing--changing offices.  But after not having an office for 3 years, I have grown to love my little office, which is even painted in a color I chose.  Being away has been a bit of a respite from reality. Yes, we've talked about everything, and I've communicated with Dr. Writing, Dr. Rhetoric, and the Dean.  We have a plan.  I know how I'm going to proceed. 

But I haven't actually had to face any of the unpleasant people yet (not that the above mentioned people are the unpleasant ones).  Suddenly I'm feeling a bit anxious about returning.  For now, though, I'm going to do my best to quiet that anxiety and enjoy my last evening away with Archer.

Wrapping Up

Today is the last day of our trip, and Archer and I are taking the day off from research.  Despite everything that transpired at the end of last week (was it really on a few days ago?  It seems like a lifetime in many ways), we've made the most of our time together.  His research proved to be very productive, and it now looks like he'll get an article out of the things he found.  He also now knows the images that he thought existed do in fact exist, so he will have to return to secure image rights for his book project.  For me, the research has been a bit more frustrating.  I came having no idea what I would find.  I was hoping for something specific, and while I didn't find what I was hoping for, I did uncover some interesting biographical things about an author I work on.  So now I have to figure out if what I discovered is at all significant which means doing a lot of research into secondary materials. 

As for the job stuff, my conversation with Dr. Writing and Dr. Rhetoric revealed about what I had expected.  Research Department (not the chair or the other member of the committee, it seems) used me to make a point, and that point is that they want nothing to do with partner-placements or joint appointments.  Fine.  They could have made that point without putting me through the ordeal of an "interview."  I meet with the Dean when we return, and we'll see what we see.  The Dean is pissed (D's words, not mine), and D is committed to securing a T-T line for me.  I have lots of questions, and I want answers before I say where I'd prefer to be appointed.  I am not leaving Teaching Department, but I know the Dean is leaning toward having me joint appointed in another department--one which I've worked in before and has a history of valuing partner-placements. 

Oh, and Dr. Writing has moved mountains (literally of books) so that I do not have to spend too much more time in my office that is located in Research Department.  Archer and I will move my stuff to my temporary office early next week.  It will be a relief not to have to be in that department in any way whatsoever.  I am also going to schedule an "exit interview" with Research Chair.  I feel that RC owes me some answers.  I realize I am not likely to get any satisfaction out of this meaning and that I will probably just get upset.  But if seeing me makes RC uncomfortable in anyway whatsoever, I'll take some joy in that. 

Friday, May 04, 2012

The lamb

About a week ago I had a conversation with the dean in which I firmly expressed that I did not want to be a sacrificial lamb for the partner placement initiative, such as it is, at CU.  The dean firmly agreed and indicated that everything that could be done would be done to prevent it.  I am acutely aware that the dean has two back up plans in place.  I do believe this dean is committed to ensuring that Archer and I stay at CU.  After all, as the dean reminded me, in the last 4 years, we've both brought in about $40,000 in grant money; Archer has made a name for himself in a fairly small field while teaching in a country that barely recognizes said field; I've designed 4 classes that have increased enrollment in 3 departments; and we've both demonstrated that we have strong research potential.  All the while, the dean added, while staying on the job market and balancing our home life with our careers.  The dean reminded me, however, (as deans are wont to do, I suppose) that sh/e could only control so much.  The dean reiterated that the joint appointment as it has originally been envisioned was still the way sh/e preferred to go--for lots of reasons, the primary one being that the two departments are about to merge.  I am the only person on campus who can teach in both departments.  The plan makes a lot of sense.

In an entirely separate conversation with the chair of Research department, I again stated I did not want to be made a sacrificial lamb.  RC (Research Chair) assured me that this was not going to happen, saying that if a decision was made by the appropriate committee to move forward with the interview then the appointment would go through.  I said again, "I'm not sure I believe that is the case; however, this appointment reflects the career track I want to be on.  Therefore, I will trust you."  That is where I made my mistake.

The interview happened on Monday.  I thought it went well.  The questions following my talk turned into a conversation.  Two faculty members stayed after the Q&A ended to follow up on issues in which our research areas overlap.  The following interview was also a conversation.  Lunch went well.  The grad students seemed to like me.  Dinner was a bit awkward, but it was fine.  RC assured me I had put my best foot forward and that all would go well.

The dean called me yesterday about 40 minutes after Archer and I landed for our babymoon/research trip.  The committee met sometime yesterday to finalize the appointment, or so I had been told before I left town.  All had not gone well.  I was, in fact, made the sacrificial lamb.  I will not be holding a joint appointment in Research department and Teaching department.  I know nothing more than that.  I have a conference call scheduled with the chair of TD later today.  I'm hoping to get answers, but I suspect TC will only be able to tell me so much.  I may be scheduling a meeting with my union rep when we return to CU Land as well.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

For real . . .

Today I have learned, finally, how horrific academic politics can be.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

An update

Monday went well.  My talk seemed to be well received; the interview portion became a dialogue very quickly; and everyone was polite and cordial.  The biggest shock: more than half of the people present had absolutely no idea I was pregnant.  No one commented on it--Canada has signed Human Rights legislation, after all.  There were lots of shocked stares, however.  Oh well.  The committee is supposed to be meeting tomorrow.  I expect to hear something at some point via email as Archer and I leave for our babymoon/research trip tomorrow.

As for that, Yetta and Pita are here, and the boys are having a blast.  I think they'll be okay, although I know Bear will be a bit moody by Sunday.  I've stressed the importance of keeping them on their schedule, and Yetta seems keen to follow it.  I know they'll be safe, loved, and fed.  But I also know lots of things will get done in a way much different than I would do them.  That bothers me a bit, to be quite honest.  But Archer and I need this time together.  I am exhausted.  I need sometime to just be with my husband, to think about things not related to CU, and to have some adult fun.