Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Weekend Thirsty from Dr. Python. Someone Needs to Be Talked Down From the Ledge.

I am up for tenure for the third time. I got hosed over politically, twice, at my first employer. Now here we go again somewhere else. I'm super, super anxious. 

 Can anyone offer soothing words (lie if you must) to help in these next two weeks before the portfolio is due?


42 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Or whiskey (bourbon or scotch).

      A couple of fingers at least I'd say.

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  2. I think once you're up for tenure, you should have to leave the blog. Those of us scrambling in the postdoc adjunct world really need the space and really have the misery.

    Worried about your THIRD tenure meeting seems like a real first world problem.

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    1. Do you think the misery stops after tenure? I don't have tenure, but have friends and colleagues who seem just as miserable (albeit, a little bit more vocal about it).

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    2. Uh, no. That's just mean. Not having tenure, and especially not getting tenure, are like being an adjunct except with much, much more in the way of committee work and expectations of collegiality. Worrying about getting full is a first-world problem.

      If this is Adjunct Misery blog, please change the name.

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    3. So unfriendly. Why is it not possible to offer a different perspective. College Misery? My third try at tenure while thousands have been held down by the status quo for years, sometimes more than a decade?

      I've read complaints about this blog being unfriendly to new people and now I see why.

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    4. Hi PhD Up. We've corresponded by email already but I want to speak with you in public, too. I'm not going to have a running debate with you about what's appropriate or not. Read the blog, take part in an appropriate way, and all will be good.

      Most people who spend time here know when they've gone too far. People who are new need to figure it out. Maybe it's not the place for you. But maybe it is. Find a way to get along.

      My number one rule, which I'm just announcing now, although I say it in my real world life all the time: Just don't be an asshole, and all will be well.

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    5. This is a set up. Just like my students who act out in class, so that they have a reason to huff off in a tantrum. It wasn't what we did. It was what you did purposely, to get the wanted response. Go figure!

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    6. As far as I'm concerned, we're all on a metaphorical Titanic, with the exception that this time there are no lifeboats to fight over (or nobly relinquish a chance at) and no rescue vessels in sight. The ship is going down slowly, some of us are more immediate peril than others, and a few might even manage to die/retire (find a lifeboat) before the whole thing goes down, but anybody who is only now coming up for tenure has very good chances of being more and more fully immersed in the misery, even with tenure (dirty little secret of associate professorship, which isn't so secret if you read this or other academic blogs, or listen in the halls: the service burden can be crushing, and at least some of that burden comes from the need to hire/supervise adjuncts, which tends to bring on survivor's guilt as well as other uncomfortable feelings. Also, teaching loads are getting increasingly heavy in practice, even as they remain the same or diminish on paper, while research expectations remain high).

      Or, to put it less metaphorically and more politically: if faculty spend our time arguing about who's more miserable, and splitting along class lines, however defined, the worst of the administrators/edupreneurs win.

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    7. You people are as predictable as always. Someone from outside the trust circle has an opinion, and she's called names. Even "dismissed" by a pet of the moderators.

      Disgraceful, but that's pretty much what your clubhouse has always been.

      What angers me is that you dozen or so cranks purport to be representatives of a profession I take seriously.

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    8. Welcome back HP. As not one of the inner circle, let me retort. The comment is out of the line in three accounts: first, it is denying relevance to the original poster (rules of misery #1: Do not minimize the experiences of other members); second, is trying to dictate what this blog should be, like someone who visits your home for the first time and tells you that the curtains are hideous; third, it is excluding some of us for whom the blog is a source of solace and sanity.
      (Of course, you are going to say that I am the seventh avatar of Fab... whatever)

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    9. Oh dear, PhD Up. We apologize for not welcoming you to the blog after telling many of us to go away. We appreciate your suggestion that we redefine the purpose of this blog in a way that focuses more attention on your situation while ignoring the concerns of other existing members. Your ideas are given the consideration that they deserve.

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    10. I did not write the comment above attributed to me.

      I rarely even view this trash.

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    11. Neither h_p comment comes from any known IP address (or anywhere near him geographically) that we have in the archive of tools.

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    12. Most of the TT and tenured folk on this page have also been through the postdoc and adjunct meat grinder.

      Trust me, we haven't forgotten anything.

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    13. As an adjunct, I find solace in the fact that we all share in the misery. I love company.

      And this is one of the few academic blogs I've seen in which adjuncts, TT, tenured and pretty much any professor is welcome to vent without being dismissed. It actually has helped to balance out the nastiness of some of the established blogs for me-- not all TT/tenured folks are condescending dicks and not all adjuncts are bitter toward those who made it through!

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    14. First world problem? This entire blog is about first world problems. PhD_UP, the fact that you have PhD in you moniker yells that you are deeply involved in first world problems.

      The most recent distressing thought I've had about food is that the cheap steak I bought doesn't taste nearly as good as the prime cuts I picked up when I cooked dinner for our anniversary. The most recent distressing water thought was that the gas-station I stop at for cheap gas has funny smelling water, and I'd wait a few more hours on my semi-regular 8 hour commute to fill up on water.

      So, if you have some first world misery, or some non-first-world complaints, bring-em. We'll love being companions in your misery, and we'll critique them, and tell you to drink more, and that you belong in siberia, and that the duck is awesome, and that llama tastes great. If you don't love the company here, then clearly, you need to work on your own misery a little more.

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  3. You prepare as best you can. Breathe. Realize that you've managed to land on your feet again after the last two times (so screw them), and you'll land okay after this one, as well. Things tend to work out, one way or the other.

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  4. Oh, good luck, Dr. Python! I'm sure the new committee will love you now that you're not at the same school.

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  5. Sorry, PhD Up, but you are dismissed.

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  6. Good heavens, no. This is not adjunct misery. We are all miserable here.

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  7. If you've gotten to this point three times, you clearly have not just qualifications but gonads of steel. Godspeed! Report back from the other side.

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  8. Watch Annie and sing Tomorrow for days. Go for a run. Contact a friend who makes your laugh. Re-read a good book. Cook a new recipe--with stuff outside your comfort zone--with lots of prep, like an Indian meal with lots of measuring spices and chopping veggies. But mostly: List all the reasons you want tenure THERE and all the ones you're glad you didn't get it at the other place.

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  9. Watch Tarkovsky's "Stalker" on a decent TV.

    Try to absorb the mentality of the stalker, who is nearly a secular saint.

    Make the timed pipebombs in the basement anyway.

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  10. Let the members of the PTR committee know that you know where they live, and where their children go to school... Put an NRA sticker in your car. Mumble in the corners, cackle now and then...
    Or, seriously, tell yourself that you've done everything that you could and had to do, and that everything else is in the lap of the gods. Offer them some small sacrifice like, a hamster, or a duck.

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  11. Relax, I already talked to them for you. They decided to not go through with all this formal hiring/ portfolio bullshit but instead WE'RE GONNA PARTY LIKE IT'S GRAD-SCHOOL ALL OVER AGAIN!

    Cal is bringing the brownies and I arranged for the strippers and dildos. Anyone else wanna sign up to bring something?

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    Replies
    1. I very clearly went to the wrong grad school.

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  12. I've never been through the process, so I feel somewhat unqualified to offer comfort, but I tend to agree with those who say that if you've made it this far, you're likely to land on your feet again, one way or the other.

    Other than that, I recommend distraction by any means that won't get you denied on "conduct unbecoming" grounds (in other words, limit the really heavy drinking to the weekends, and avoid anything that could get you arrested).

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  13. Wait. You have two weeks before your portfolio is due? So there are two weeks in which you could have a trusted, tenured colleague vet it for you and find typos, but reassure you about the content? Two weeks in which to surprise the department one morning with a dozen fresh bagels, cream cheese, lox, and great coffee with a little sign saying "Happy More Than Halfway to Finals Week"? Maybe I'm misunderstanding the timeline, but it seems to me that you'll feel better if you've done all you can to polish both the portfolio and the apple.

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  14. Purely on my own as a community member, I'd just say that PG's comment about vetting your packet with a trusted colleague is great advice.

    I'd skip the breakfast yummies, though, unless that's something that's sort of your thing anyway. Anything unusual in your behavior around your colleagues may look desperate.

    Do you feel like one of them? Then just act that way, no nerves. You've done the work that is going to get you tenure or not. Make sure your portfolio is as good as it can be, and just do your thing.

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    1. This is LK, by the way, but I assume you all know that now.

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    2. And no vibrating dildos, either. Good luck Dr. Python!

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    3. Leslie's right, the goodies would stand out as desperate given the timing.

      I agree with CrayonEater too, but am dying to know the context.

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    4. If it were me, there'd be a bit of extra coffee around. But I already have a reputation for really good coffee, so it wouldn't be something new.

      OTOH, my department thinks it appropriate for the object of a particular meeting to bring coffee and donuts (or other appropriate refreshments) to the meeting. I think it a somewhat despicable practice, not because I don't like it (I do like it), but because, when I think too much, it means I am supposed to bring stuff to particular meetings, or I look like a loser. Don't start this trend if it's not already alive and well.

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  15. Thanks all, who offered constructive and supportive ideas. I especially like the perspective from Kate. I had a great outside reviewer (one of the few good guys at the former school) and really know I've done a great job as a prof and have conveyed this in the portfolio. I appreciate now being able to go back to this post as necessary when the little demons pop up on my shoulder shouting negativity. As for the post hijacker, if you've ever been thought the mental hell I was in with gaslighting and retaliation from the campus president, then you can pass a better judgment. Thanks to everyone who also supported me on this aspect.

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    1. Dr Python, sincere empathy from one who has been through the hell of a vengeful president. You walk away from it with survivor's guilt (if you're still employed and other colleagues are not) and a little bit of PTSD (not to at all insinuate that teaching is the same as surviving warfare). It must have been horrendous for you. I hope where you are now is an amazing place and you feel as prepared as one can for the tenure process.

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  16. Python, I just went through the tenure process recently at the Logging Institute, and in my portfolio it was necessary that I confront some rather unfounded criticism head-on. I learned a lot in the process, and I can tell you that I think it is very important to deal with criticism/weaknesses/mistakes in a direct way. I don't know whether you have done this or not, but choose the issue that is likely to be seen as your weak point, and discuss it completely and carefully in the portfolio. You can talk about what hasn't worked well in the past, what you have tried to change recently, and what you will continue to do in the future. Perhaps more importantly, you have the opportunity to have a philosophical discussion about the larger issues surrounding [weakness], and you can talk about what is really important and what is not.

    My goal in my own portfolio was to set up a situation in which it would seem like agreeing with my detractors instead of with me would be tantamount to agreeing with [objectionable philosophical or pedagogical principle]. And it worked -- I got tenure. I am here to stay in the Chainsaw Department.

    After your portfolio is turned in, just go exercise a lot. It is as good for the mind as for the body. Personally, I recommend chainsawing!

    Hope this is helpful, and best of luck,

    Chainsaw Professor

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    1. Great advice, Chainsaw. And congrats on your own tenure.

      Do you make sculptures, by any chance?

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    2. No, AO, no sculptures. Just felling and bucking for me.

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