Sunday, October 13, 2013

A CM Flashback. 3 Years Ago Today. Some Old School Smackdown.

I've been thinking a lot about community members, how they arrive, how they drift off. We've lost a number of folks over the 3+ years of our existence. Sometimes they leave in a huff with a final posting. But often they just disappear quietly. (Some come and go so quickly we never really learn their names or peculiarities.)

I have been told that this all bothers me too much. Sue me. But I'm always sad when someone leaves. I keep thinking there's more I could have done to make the place better.

Anyway, here's a flashback to the Wombat, who often sparred with others, who vexed me on more than a few occasions, who had some hard feelings with other community members. (Listen, it's not always a tea party.) But she was a part of us for a long time, and I send her my best.


Mid-week Smackdown
The Wombat of the Copier

Sad Sandy: I don’t know what to tell you. I demo’ed the experiment before your eyes and mine didn’t turn yellow. Yours did. If you think your dirty glassware isn’t the problem, by all means, just stand there and whine. That will get results.

Maury the Marvelous: Of course I’m not insulted because you tsk’ed, rolled your eyes, and walked out to take your lunch early because you thought I made a mistake. It couldn’t be that you don’t know how to use your mother fucking calculator and you were one crucial “)” away from the right answer. I hope you enjoyed getting hung out to dry by your classmates. I enjoyed watching it. It’s so strange that they’d stone-wall you about what you missed when all you did was skip out of class early, come to lab late, and expect them do prep shit for you and share notes. Don’t they know you’re Maury the Fucking Marvelous?

Nice Nina: That idiot was going to fuck up everyone’s experiment. I don’t know where you channeled that alternate personality from, but invite her back next week. When you growled at him to drop the fucking wet scoop before sticking it in the reagent bottle, I fell in love with you. You’re probably crying on your pillow right now because you were “mean”. But you weren’t. You saved the day for Slow Sammy and Melinda Molasses, (who were on line behind him, again).

Contentedly Mediocre Carl: I’m glad you’ve decided to settle for Bs when you’re smarter than 99% of all of the students I’ve ever had. That kind of acceptance will come in handy when Maury gets the job you deserve because he’s a back stabbing fucktard bastard who isn’t worthy, mentally or morally, of licking your shoes. But maybe, just maybe, you could talk to Nina about how to channel alternate personalities, because if you put Maury in his place, just once, all of the girls in class would swoon at your feet. PS – stop being so fucking hot.


  1. I am not currently working on the page at all, so I send in my comments today strictly as a longtime community member with some special insight.

    The comments yesterday from Cal, Fab, and Terry P were spot on about the behind the scenes stuff on the page. It is normally a blast working on the page and getting to know the folks who love it.

    And yes, there is a large contingent of folks who are not known on the public page, but who make their voices heard loudly through email. It confuses me a bit, since it's actually quite easy to remain anonymous or pseudonymous.

    But there it is.

    And, yes, there are hard feelings and a lot of people have left. I was on the end of many goodbye emails.

    Usually it's just about the sense that a lack of respect is being shown for the community. The attacks are often cited, even by folks who are not the targets. "If I wanted hostile infighting, I'd go to more committee meetings here on campus."

    It is thus on blogs everywhere, and CM's a remarkably tame place compared to many, even counting some academic blogs.

    And because our membership is much larger than most of those, by many factors, in fact, the chances for real and imagined slights are simply greater.

    I have been guilty of feeling crappy sometimes when the comment I imagined was meant to derail my day was just someone else venting off some steam that was all to do with them and not me, or sometimes not even the intended target in a comment.

    A break is often what I needed, and because Fab is so tireless, I often got one.

    I guess I'd tell folks to let it simmer, to cool down, this feeling that the "blog" has wronged you. Some folks use the blog in that very way. They are combative. They care about the topic and can't hold in the anger when a comment or post seems wrongheaded in some way.

    I believe that CM members sometimes are a bit fiery because they feel safe here, safe to say what they really believe, to say it's little if it's little (like in the founder's first post from RYS), safe because they know someone reading this page probably cares as much about higher ed as they do, and are just as passionate.

    Hard feelings. That's what a lot of the mail is about. I've seen long time visible members break apart because of something someone wrote, someone they thought were just like them. And it's just not as horrible as it should be. Remember we are all very different, and sometimes our responses come about because of our own situation, department, college, etc. Oftentimes it's just not about you, even when it's directed at you.

    I know it's difficult to see this. And I can't tell you the number of emails I've sent talking people off of an imaginary ledge high above the mythical CM compound.

    For the most part, the folks who take part on this page are well-intentioned good folks.

    One former member, who always got complaints, was the sweetest little lady I knew in her emails. But her manner, when riled, when passionate, always came off as aggressive. She explained to me that she did it because this was the only academic world where she felt empowered. (To be clear, I'm not talking about Wombat, although Wombat was also always quite kind and generous in her emails with me.)

    It's an online community, a rare one, and one which survives because of some central shared ideals.

    Treasure it for that; temper the rest for the page's own good - and your own.

    I send you my best,
    Leslie K

    PS: To the compound boys, Cal, Fab, and "Gordon," Ithaca. Oslo Winnemuca Edmonton. Yellowknife Oxford Utica. Birmingham Eston Elkhart Raleigh.

    1. Abilene Calgary Edmonton Saskatoon.

    2. There was a period of 6 months when every time I posted to the page, there was a stick-it-to-me response. It got really frustrating, so I took a break from the page. I'd read it but didn't feel like posting. But I found that it passed; I missed the page too much to leave entirely, and I realized that the comments weren't so much aimed at me as frustrated with the stories that we share -- the difficulties that we all recognize from our own lives.

      Sometimes we just have to step back. And then return.

  2. I just want to say how much I appreciate the mods who make me feel so welcome here.

  3. I love the mods. The only time I get really depressed about this blog is when the misogyny, homophobia, and racism fly -- in subtle ways, but ways that are enough to signal to me and I presume others that this place, and by extension the academy, has not really welcomed my kind. Usually it's unintentional, which makes it even sadder, but pointing it out is often not well received (and I refuse to go to the mods as if it is their fault). So I have to take a break. We lost Barb from Batavia over this; I changed my name and took a really long break; many people have probably just clicked away. I don't think this place is any better or any worse than the academy as a whole, but somehow it stings more from people I think of as friends.

  4. Didn't Wombat get a job outside of Academia? I seem to recall a good news post from her saying that she was moving into the private sector for better pay.

  5. Ah, here we are:

  6. Replies
    1. Me too. And what I took as the last-straw argument made me sad. For encounters like that one I feel it doesn't really matter what a person's opinion is - once it is clear that someone has been hurt in a particularly vulnerable spot, the next response should be to back off and apologize.

      This group generally seems respectful of one another's opinions. However, text is always more blunt than face to face conversation. It's easy to break connections, and much more difficult to convey the nuances and the depth required to repair them.

  7. Don't take it so hard, Cal. I miss Wombat too, but let's hope that, having told us of leaving academia, that Wombat has now found a land of milk and honey and hasn't bothered to look back. With no misery, there's not much use for College Misery, no? It reminds me of the old song, "Can't sing the blues in an air-conditioned room." Let's hope that's the case with all who've left.

  8. I particularly loved Wombat! Hi Wombat! Hope you are well! Hope you come around sometimes!

  9. I, too, miss Wombat. I hope the private sector is treating her well, but/and would love an update (hey, we all need help building escape fantasies, and/or we need to be informed that the fire is even hotter than the frying pan, or the grass is just about as green on the other side of the fence, or whatever).

  10. I miss Wombat, too, and I hope she's doing OK.

    I know I can get 'het up' over criticism from someone I don't expect to be vitriolic, but I don't understand leaving in a huff when the community provides so much support. I am so grateful that the Mods keep going on our behalf.