Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flipping out.

Not figurative.

Yesterday was a presentation I had to do in front of the faculty, dean and provost presenting my "integration paper" (a hoop we had to jump through for tenure). I spent a half day (on a holiday) preparing for it. I had a carefully crafted PowerPoint, an activity, and written, rehearsed speech. I even dressed up a little. I figured that my Uni-wide colleagues would never see me teach, but they would see this. So I thought it was important.

I read it animatedly, got no response to my jokes, and light uninterested applause at the end.

Then the two others in my cohort got up. One ummed and ahhed and randomly picked read from a few highlighted paras from her paper. The next cohort-mate came in 10 minutes late, spent 5 minutes trying to log into the computer while everyone waited and admitted that he had completely forgotten about it. He shrugged off his faux pas by saying "Now I have tenure! There's nothing you can do about it!" Then he winged it for about 5 minutes and concluded by saying, "Welp, guess we are out of time".

While this should have made me proud that I had a good showing compared to my peers, I was angry, embarrassed and felt foolish. My cohort-mates are successful in their jobs. I, on the other hand, am struggling and letting balls drop all over the place. AND ENTIRELY MISERABLE. Why? BECAUSE APPARENTLY I DON'T BLOW OFF THE RIGHT STUFF.

This sent me into such a bad state that I lost my struggle to stay afloat. I cried all night last night and cried when I woke up this morning. I called Hub crying to tell him how badly I felt.

I was able to shake it off, came into work and checked my email. In it were the following demands:

You're late with arranging faculty congress elections. You need to get on it now.
Take a survey on the colleague review process (delete)
Take a survey on the promotion review process (delete)
Which video should we show in class? I'm in charge, but you're the actual expert.
Hey Prof, can you add another upload slot on the LMS?
You need to get me a summary paragraph for your summer school class NOW.
Change the deadline on the online quiz.
Order your textbooks today for next fall or your students won't get used copies.
Can you do the work of the work study students tomorrow? They will be on a field trip.
and then
(stopped in hall) How many specimens do we need to order? I have to do it today.
(drop in student) I'm going to drop out of school.

Now if you check my schedule for today, you will see that I have about 1.5 hours free. The problem is-it's the same everyday. It hasn't changed, even since I've been asking for help and telling my chair that I'm not doing well.

So I just flipped on out.

I cried in my office for an hour before class and splashed my face and went in to teach. I made it through my lecture and came back to cry for another hour. I cried to Hub on the phone and explained to him all the things I had been demanded of, and cried some more.

Then Hub called my chair and told him that this was entirely unsustainable, and that I would not renew my contract if things did not get better quicker. He e-mailed my colleague and told her to decide on her own what video to choose. He e-mailed my old best friend in Costa Rica who called today (which caused me to start to cry again, after I had temporarily stopped).

I have gone past my breaking point. I really want to quit- as in walk away right now.

I am angry that no one was listening the whole time I kept saying, that's too much for me, I can't (but its only a little simple thing!). I'm angry that the provost excused another mother of young kids from duty on one of the committees *I* chair becuase she had a big service commitment. I'm angry that when I tell my so-called friends how hard it is for me that they engage in one-ups-man-ship in which they are clearly better off (e.g. this Mom has a live-in au pair: [The cost of pottery class tonight: only 25 minutes with my kids after work, 15 minutes with my husband after class, and now 1.5 more hours of charting left over.])

It was so nice to hear my old, dear best friend remind me that I AM a happy, optimistic, and damned tenacious person. So I know things have reached their limit because now I'm the type of person who will tell strangers my troubles at a bus stop. I'm pathetic, and miserable and very, very close to tearing up this six-year contract.


  1. So I know things have reached their limit because now I'm the type of person who will tell strangers my troubles at a bus stop.

    I think I know how you feel. I have my dream job and have been miserable at it because the crap is just so overwhelming. I know what I need to do -- fight to get my time back, fight against unnecessary service, keep saying no to everything, yes even some things that you really think you should do. I am not very good at it, but that's the only way. Make waves, get angry, blow off commitments, that's what tenure is for -- no one being able to sack you for saying no to unnecessary obligations.
    Here's a virtual hug. ((( hug )))
    It's not the real thing, but I hope it helps just a little bit that someone else knows how you are feeling...
    Just hang in there. You have tenure, a lovely family, get angry and reclaim the reigns to your schedule!

    Good luck!

    1. You have helped me sharpen my "no"-er. And thanks for the encouragement. It truly helps.

  2. This is not my idea of a dream job, and I would have either picked up to move/insisted he move back/sent the older child to live with him for a bit long ago.

    1. separate the sibs? never thought of that. hmm.

  3. I'm so empathising with you here, and with the little ones as well, no wonder you're at the end of your tether. Although I must admit to a little envy about your proactive, supportive husband! No advice, just empathy, and virtual hugs/offers of large beverages/slabs of chocolate/solidarity