Saturday, September 22, 2007

Denial, Denial

When I woke up on Friday morning, I had twelve odious tasks to complete. They are all wretched in different ways. Some require extended conversations with people with no social skills, which will satisfy them temporarily, but will commit me to contact them later in the spring as well. Some are simply tedious, requiring looking at horrendous, dry assessment materials and revising them. One requires locating a bunch of information that is spread across two catalogs, three computers, and a number of emails from last year. One means sitting down with an almost finished article on a traumatizing topic, editing it, and adding a section that acknowledges the complexity of violence without blaming the vicitim. Another is the task of starting the research for a paper I'm scheduled to give in three weeks. This list goes on.

On Friday, I tackled two of the odious tasks, which were actually two versions of the same one: writing letters for colleagues going up for tenure. This is an odious task only because the stakes are high; honestly, how can you wax rhapsodic about people you work with and admire without wondering if the committee reading the letter thinks you're blowing smoke? Needless to say, there was a lot of handwringing Friday, interrupted only by the process of writing horribly inappropriate sentences ("not only is Dr. M a credit to the college and a fine scholar, but she also gives great head!") and erasing them, and then quadruple-checking to make sure that I didn't actually leave them in. As of Friday afternoon, I crossed the task off the list. Two down, ten to go!

So, of a Saturday afternoon, I'm contemplating my list, wondering which of stinking bastards to do first. [Note: in case you're wondering if you missed something: no, the teaching prep hasn't even made it onto the list. Because on the scale of odious? Watching a Kathryn Bigelow film and reading contemporary literary theory for class ranks just under cruising on a yacht in St. Tropez. Sad, but that's where I am, folks. Clearly, I need to get out more.]

With all of this to do, then, it will come as no surprise that I've spent the better part of the last two hours consumed by a single question. Not "isn't it time to get a new job?" Not "how is it that this is my life, and what would I have to do to work on a goat farm in New Mexico?" Not even "am I hungry? sleepy? needing to fix something in the house rather than work?" No. Instead, I have examined this classic query: "how short is too short for a maxi skirt? Am I just too stumpy to pull it off? And do boots ameliorate the problem, or is that just wishful thinking?" And periodically I visit the Boden website for a visual:
Looking to escape your own swamp of odiosity? Feel free to discuss in the comments!

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Blogger Ashley said...

I say it out of love: you may be too short for a maxi skirt. Unless you were seriously, rigorously monochromatic about it, and wore like 4" boots. And you can take comfort in the fact that the maxi skirt has not yet been invented that's long enough for me, so I'm screwed too.

But damn I want that girl's zebra bag, and also more time in my day. I'll see your tenure letters for colleagues and raise you composing an email that simultaneously a) defends curriculum reform; b)addresses the question of why we as a discipline no longer ask questions like "Can't we all just agree that Margery [Kempe] is several levels below Chaucer in terms of sheer literary quality?" when we're trying to decide which texts to include in a survey; c) gently rebukes a senior colleague for publicly calling my teaching practices into question; and d) attempts to maintain some semblance of civility about the fact that I am being required to do all these things when instead I should be grading. Or sleeping. Need a hand on that goat farm?

Saturday, September 22, 2007 9:01:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

I can tell that you've been carefully crafting emails, because you're kind enough to use conditional language. Let's be serious; I'm too short, even with drag queen, platform boots. Dammit.

As you are currently embroiled in it, you know that curriculum debates get the collective faculty underwear drawer in a major twist. I'd venture to say that nothing makes people more defensive, or more insecure, or more ugly than that. I do not envy you, my friend.

And for the record, I think that questioning someone's pedagogy (which I get A LOT, by the way, particularly when my student evaluations are good), is the lowest of the low. None of us have any formal pedagogical training, yo. Worse yet, I find that the more interactive I try to make the class, the more questionable my colleagues find my tactics.

The similarity between the goat farm and the academic life? Daily work with manure.

Sunday, September 23, 2007 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Ashley said...

The pisser is, I DO have pedagogical training! Texas is actually really good at that--you have to take a teaching course before you teach your own course. Granted, it's rhet/comp based, but still.

Perfect shorthand: at our last dept meeting, the chair asked us to tell her about any issues that facilities services needed to know about in our classrooms. Most of us were like "the clock's broken!" or "I need more space!" or "my whiteboard won't erase!" The guy who called me out? He wanted to know where all the podiums were disappearing to.

Sunday, September 23, 2007 11:45:00 PM  

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