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Monday, March 9, 2015

non-sabbatical work

Today has been a day devoted to non-sabbatical work, mostly on life-maintenance stuff, but a little bit on doing some proofreading for the literary journal that is housed in our department. I confess, I haven't paid a lot of attention to it over the years; I've given it an occasional glance and thought, "well, maybe later, I'll devote the time to reading this." No surprise that "later" never seems to materialize. So it's nice to have this absolute reason to at least read the poetry in the forthcoming volume (my share of the proofreading tasks). It's incredibly light work, I must say: I'm used to proofreading for the Met, and those projects are enormous and highly exacting in all sorts of ways, whereas this is just a few pages and requires no cross-checking (no footnotes or references, no illustrations to match against text, no elaborate style sheet needed to ensure consistency). Piece o' cake. I'm interested to notice my skepticism about the literary quality: I think some part of me wants to think it's not as good as we all say it is--but so far, although I'm not absolutely whacked by any of the poems, they're solid: no quibbles or caveats required.

I know that part of what's going on is I've felt so snake-bit about the whole Creative Writing upset that I'm feeling very sulky and put down, so I want to feel superior to rebalance my creative ego. I thought for a while about contributing to the section devoted to our own faculty, but then I got apprehensive about being "judged" by my colleagues and backed out. My creative ego is a great deal more fragile and vulnerable than my professional ego. The brass balls I bring to a lot of my functioning on campus shrivel to nothing when it comes to my creative output. I'm thinking of my student from the last (in every sense) time I taught Fiction Writing who clearly said, when I asked them to voice their biggest apprehensions about their first story, that he was afraid his work would suck. Yeah. Me too, especially when put up against that of my colleagues who write creatively as the center of their professional lives.

While I'm on the subject of insecurities getting stirred up, William brought to my attention a bullet point in the latest report from our departmental union rep on the last executive meeting of the union. The point is that an observation from the area dean must be included in all applications for promotion.

Panic in the streets. We've never done that--and certainly this latest round of applications don't include observations by the dean. I don't know if those of us who are applying for promotion are now officially fucked or if the rule can be held in abeyance for this round and implemented next time. It's important for us to know on P&B, too, as if observations by the dean are required, P&B will have to be on top of that in one way or another. (Notice I'm assuming I'll be re-elected to P&B.)

William has the right attitude. He's pretending NCC does not exist and that, if we ignore any icky problems, they'll resolve on their own. I'm too anxious for that--and too unable to extract myself entirely from the doings on campus. But his attitude did make me rethink whether I'll attend the sessions to meet the finalists for the presidential search. I was all set to do that, but now I think I won't. I'll just get pissed off, and we don't have any say in it anyway: the Board will hire whichever candidate they want, and it's already extremely clear what they're looking for. I ran into a colleague when I was on campus on Saturday, and she said that the first candidate said that the budget for "personnel" is way too high: it's about 80% right now, and he thinks it should be closer to 60% or less (and I think we can all bet that the cuts will not come out of administrators' salaries or the cleaning and maintenance staff). He said he worked at a community college that served approximately half as many students as we have with one-sixth the faculty (10,000 students/100 faculty versus our 20,000 students/600 faculty). He thinks "developmental education" (PC-speak for remedial courses) should be eliminated entirely because they don't work. That's enough to send my blood pressure through the roof and to lead me to start thinking, well, working at the Met wasn't that bad....

So, let me focus on the present. It is a gloriously beautiful day, and I am content with the way I've chosen to spend it. I'll be getting up and out of the house early tomorrow (so I'm not underfoot when the house-cleaner shows up), so here's to even moderately OK productivity tomorrow. I've had a  nice break for a few days, and I'm starting to crave getting back into it. Isn't that a lovely thing to be able to say?

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