Friday, August 22, 2014

I did this crazy thing...

I sent a gift to the faculty that bailed on us at the last minute.


We had a faculty bail out of hir contract last minute, please see yesterday's post. I'll call this person Dr. Bailer. Our department chair would not elaborate on the reasons why he/she left.

Here's where my imagination goes into overdrive, BUT there are bases to my assumptions. If this person suddenly came down with Ebola, Leukemia, or had a stroke, we would be asked to pray for them, they would be given a leave of absence, and we would bring them casseroles. If s/he had suddenly decided, "To hell with your little piss-ant college, I'm bailing!", that scenario would have been communicated to us, and the reaction of those in-the-know would have been much different.


http://lesasbookcritiques.blogspot.com/2012/09/the-elephant-in-room.html

However, no one is talking about what happened. I have had loved ones in my life with debilitating mental illness (but that's for another blog). It's really the only thing we dont. talk. about.  It's hard on family members, there's still a stigma, it discomboblulates workplaces, and it  freaks churches out. It's called the "no casserole" illness.

I was recently inspired by this interview: 
http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/mental-illness-church-amy-simpson
I haven't read her book, but I can't wait to do so. In summary, churches really don't know how to treat people with mental illness, especially since some churches (not ours) still consider mental illness a spiritual problem. Most churches don't know how to rally around a family with a mentally ill member. The author argues that we should symbolically "bring casseroles".

My university is tied to its church and reflects its values. My work does "bring casseroles" when it knows what to do. I don't know if anyone knows what to do with Dr. Bailer.

So I made a bold move. I found out Dr. Bailer was going to complete some paperwork in HR soon, so I bought a book of poetry and a blank card. I wrote words of kindness, emphasizing that I did not know anything about why they are leaving. I said I imagined that it may be distressing and that they should feel our department's care and receive our support. The words on the card are better than my summary here. I was kind but as neutral as possible. I left the gift and card with the HR person Dr. Bailer would be meeting with.

This could be a huge flop, taken the wrong way and insulting. On the other hand, it could give hir some comfort. I expect to never know. What I did is probably totally inconceivable in most workplaces. However, I have been supported and helped in tough times by my colleagues, and want to pay it forward. Regular readers will recognize the larger theme of my workplace's special culture. It's one of the things that makes the decision to uproot and find a position closer to my husband difficult. 

How do you feel about your institutional culture? Would you receive compassion at your workplace in the case of physical or mental illness? What type of reaction have you observed to mental illness in your workplace?  What are your thoughts?



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Nothing could be worse.

...in our context than what just happened.

A new faculty that we hired told us TODAY, the week before classes begin, that (s)he would not be joining us. Their entire teaching load must now instantly be redistributed and we must scramble for adjuncts. Since we don't live in a booming metropolis swimming with hungry recent science Ph.D.s, we are really stuck.

Anybody wanna teach Chemistry in a cute college town? Send a message.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Chronicle's "Vitae" becoming pointless

I have subscribed to job search alerts through the Chronicle of Higher Education's job search for, well years and years. I have always been (very passively) looking for the right solution to our two body problem. The Chronicle changed its service recently to something called Vitae.

https://chroniclevitae.com/

Seems targeted, right?

For the last oh, 6 months or so, it has been completely spammed by a few "institutions" which advertise mostly undesirable positions EVERY DAY. It has become an extreme annoyance.

I see these every time I get an e-mail from them. If these were truly desirable positions, they shouldn't have to perpetually advertise for them. Also Vitae should probably cap the number of repeat ads.
__________________________________________________________________

Central Washington University in Washington, United States
posted on June 10
Central Washington University in Washington, United States
posted on June 03
Westwood College in Virginia, United States
p

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

reading suggestion

On ‘Poor Husbands’ and Two-Body Problems

- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/609-on-poor-husbands-and-two-body-problems?cid=megamenu#sthash.2oPKxcmh.dpuf
On "poor husbands" and two-body problems
On ‘Poor Husbands’ and Two-Body Problems

On ‘Poor Husbands’ and Two-Body Problems

- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/609-on-poor-husbands-and-two-body-problems?cid=megamenu#sthash.2oPKxcmh.dpuf

On ‘Poor Husbands’ and Two-Body Problems

- See more at: https://chroniclevitae.com/news/609-on-poor-husbands-and-two-body-problems?cid=megamenu#sthash.2oPKxcmh.dpuf

Friday, July 11, 2014

We won the lottery!

Random bullets of not-necessarily crap:

  • Have a draft waiting to be finished about how our marriage has deteriorated since a month or two before the move. Went to counseling today. We're going to make it, but we are entering the "hard work" phase of our relationship.
  • Trying to analyze data from my sabbatical. Will need to go back for one more experiment at the end of this month.
  • Meanwhile, time to read and choose textbooks for Fall courses ASAP.
  • Lose our Au Pair at the end of the month. Have begun to cobble together child care from care.com and sittercity.com. Lots of fish in the sea. Let's see how the retention is...
  • Enrolled my son in kindergarten today. He blew the lid off the entrance evaluation. When I asked about gifted programs, I was informed that our school district is excellent at bringing English Language learners up to speed and serving the lower tier learners. But gifted? I was encouraged to be an activist within the school district...
And finally...
  • EXCELLENT NEWS that will make it VERY HARD TO MOVE! We won the lottery to get my son (and daughter, as it is automatic) into the bilingual program!!!. Now half of his entire early elementary school hours will be conducted in Spanish. We are ecstatic!!! 


Just noticed: Happy 500 posts to this blog!


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Back to separated

The family and almost all of our stuff have now returned to our modest town home in our modest-sized city.

On Monday, Hub drove back into work at my now-former institution in my now-former city. We are back to the status quo, with a few exceptions.

1. We still have our au pair, who has been super helpful this week. She works upstairs and I work downstairs and the kids have a grand time. She has been useful in getting the kids stuff in order.

2. The day Daddy drove away, we were delivered a little kitten. The kitty had been dumped behind a doctors office, and a nurse put a signal out via social media. We have been discussing getting a pet for a few weeks, but the timing made it possible to avoid a big let down that evening when we all went to bed for the first time without Daddy.



http://www.catsofaustralia.com/cute_kitten_pictures_7.htmTuxedo Kitten Picture

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What THEY are really like

I grew up in a lower middle class community, and we had ideas about what rich and successful people were like. THEY were exclusive and cold. THEY saw people as tools and weren't genuinely interested in anyone that couldn't benefit them somehow. THEY were surely unhappy from a lack of true human connection. THEY took themselves and their work too seriously.

This weekend we attended a milestone reunion for Hub's university, an extremely selective institution. He/we had never attended a reunion before, so we expected for there to be a lot of THEM there, as we are in some of the prime earning years of our middle-aged lives. Hub and I were fully prepared to mentally strain to overcome our intimidation of THEM and the inevitable comparisons that would ensue.

What follows is a random-ish list of observations of Hub's classmates at the reunion. Please note that there is an inherent bias, as attendees of a class reunion are a group more interested and skilled in socializing than their non-attending peers. But, this was presumably still a good sample of highly successful people (THEYs).

1. I expected more obvious trappings of wealth than I actually observed. Jewelry, clothing, etc was not showy in most cases.
2. Not a single person smoked.
3. I didn't see anyone look at their phones during the social events we attended.
4. These families in their late 40's had a lot of small kids, even babies. This was a topic of discussion among us.
5. People were very gracious and graceful at initiating and taking leave of conversations. I felt more awkward than usual. I want to learn these social graces better.
6. Conversations felt truly genuine. Each person seemed to be "present" in the converstions.
7. People made easy eye contact in the crowd and did not tightly self-segregate into groups.
8. Everyone knew not to ask intimidating questions. "What do you do?" came up naturally and comparisons were very few.
9. There were a few comparisons of children's accomplishments, but it was done graciously with the spirit of respect and admiration for the kids. This was also in the context of "my kid does such-and-such and can't even get into Alma Mater".
10. There were several "less-accomplished" folks un-intimidated to share their position in life.
11. There was also a bitter classmate- "My education cost twice as much as our house, and I suffered blatant discrimination at work, so I quit working". Discrimination is an ugly thing, and can derail even people like THEM. It's not just a birthright of us lower-class folk.