Thursday, February 07, 2008


...In the wake of yesterday's news. Which really was a kind of shock, I have to say. I wasn't enjoying the job, and I was feeling pretty damned cynical about it, before. But I was still labouring under the assumption that I/the program mattered, on some level. So it really requires a significant paradigm shift to get my head around the new reality.

I was talking to a colleague/friend about this just now...She came here a couple of years ago, feels as if she was sold a bill of goods, has been entirely let down. She said to me, "Like stages of grief, I really think there are stages of reaction-to-being-lied-to. The first is the fuck-you one [this is where I'm at right now, adding a little incredulous laughter to the mix], and then you get to a point where you say, 'I'm not going to let them ruin my career with this...I'm going to work with grad students and do the best I can in other areas...' "

It's funny that she said this, because she essentially reflected back to me the thoughts I'd been having about this today. I need to withdraw me energies from curricula/program development, yes. But I can't mistake that for checking out altogether, because that would be suicide. Both because it would isolate me too much, and because it wouldn't do anything to add to my attractiveness as a candidate in my attempt to get out of here.

So I need to focus my energies on the tiny places where I see potential for hope. One is in working with grad students...The other is in building coalition with people who are on the same page. Both of these are happening right now. In the grad student arena, I have two grand grad students in a class, and I'm talking with another about co-supervising, and I have organized a panel of three cool grad students for a Research showcase week that's coming up. I've been enjoying facilitating things for these folks, helping give them opportunities - especially since this is such a dire place to be for many grad students. On the coalitions-with-the-like-minded front, I've gotten to work with some cool like-minded souls in setting up a whole week of events in early March, which will be bridging university and community and giving crucial issues some presence on this campus. And I today met with a colleague about setting up a Working Group on [Thing], which could result in some cool initiatives, bring some good energy to campus, and have me feeling less isolated in the work I'm doing.

And, as Marcelle says in comments to the post below, I should also concentrate my energies on publishing to get out of here. No more of this kind of schedule, in which I seem to have at least 2 administrative meetings a day, every day - that does not allow me to ge my own research done.

This is my strategy right now. Ironically, this ridiculous paradigm shift has happened right at the time when I started to emerge from the lowest point I feel I've ever been at, in my life - that's felt easier in the last few days, both the loss of Mr. K and the other generalized depression. So I actually have energy for the first time in a few months - only to find that where I thought I'd be putting it is not viable. So I will put it elsewhere, and bide my time.


Psychgrad said...

This is going to sound like a bit of a crazy analogy...

In my more more irrational anxiety-ridden moments, I "convince" myself that I have to read every book in the library (part of me knows it's not logical...but that's anxiety for you). I kind of equate your relief to my relief when I come out of the anxiety and know that I don't have to read every book.

I think this could be a major turning point for you, emotionally, because you no longer have to achieve something that feels/is unattainable (developing a program without support/colleagues/etc.). With that pressure off, you can restructure your goals and be productive. You also don't have to feel stuck meeting the expectations you were hired under when the university was just blowing hot air to begin with.

Hilaire said...

That's not a crazy analogy at all! I know the feeling of must-read-every-book-in-the-library very well. And yes, it's a bit like what you've described. It feels as if I have some freedom to set my own priorities - with a view toward helping out the *people* in this institution, and not the institution itself

Thoroughly Educated said...

I think this is a very good strategy, to repurpose the energy that would have gone into program building and institutional nonsense into people-focused work and your own priorities. It's good that you're feeling a bit of an energy upswing. I can imagine that you have no spare emotional energy to spare for the being-dicked-around part of the job, so might as well husband your resources.