It’s been a bad week/month/year and some RBOC

Posting continues to be scattered and sparse.  On top of #2’s recent loss of her father-in-law, and red tape kinds of problems resulting from that for her mother-in-law (adding insult to injury), and everything else that is going on in the world, her cat is having some pretty major health problems.  He started out with some health problems when she got him last year, but they seem to be getting worse and more varied.  She’s having a rough time of it so the posts she was planning on books and on reviewing a vegetarian service that is like Blue Apron (called Purple Carrot– she likes it) are just going to have to wait until her world is no longer a dumpster fire.

My life right now is:

  • I’m way behind on research, like months behind.  Re-entry from leave has been harsh.  I am far too scattered and need to get back into a rhythm.  So far I have been trying to add structure and then completely ignoring it once push comes to shove.  This is also how I’ve been reacting to money things.  It’s like, most of my life I’ve been running scared and when there’s no reason to worry anymore I just give up because nothing is a big deal.  But I really don’t have that luxury even if it seems like it because DH could lose his job or I could have to leave this one, and I do care about my research reputation and my salary, and I would far rather argue for salary increases because of my scholarly reputation than because I’ve decided to go into administration.
  • My mind has been in political action.  I bumped the post I had scheduled for today on campus hate activities because it was too depressing on top of everything else #2 is going through.
  • I am at the point in the semester where a lot of my students are really getting it and realizing they’re getting it and that is lovely.
  • I’m doing an elective next semester that is going to be more difficult than usual because of current events.  Generally we hit Medicare in April.  By April Medicare may no longer exist as it does in my lecture notes.  I don’t like having uncertainty in my lecture notes.  I also have well over 2x the students that I normally have in that class, so I’m going to have to restructure teaching methods from a small seminar to a larger class.
  • On the day after the election, I took the ebook server from paradise that I still have access too, searched for “regency”, then sorted the 777 items therein by author’s last name.  I have been systematically reading all of them that have 4 or more stars on either goodreads or amazon (with a few exceptions for close to 4 but the synopsis looks interesting, or not reading those that are 4 that have rape or another one of the things that life is too short to read about).  The Bs and Cs had some really good stuff that I’ll be talking about in our next what are we reading post, but there have been a lot of duds since then.  I’m on the Ks now.  This was really helpful for getting me to get out of post-election depression and more focused on what I can do.
  • DH went to a local dems meeting (that from meetup didn’t look like the monthly meeting and had only 4 people signed up).  There were >30 people there and it was pretty disorganized, but not disorganized enough for him to try to take over, and not organized enough that it looks like it’s going to be easy to be a part of it.  The person in charge is someone who talks a lot and goes on lots of tangents and doesn’t stick to the agenda but kind of meanders around the agenda.  But at least there was an agenda.  DH left with no action items and had to look up some of the terms she’d used.  He has no interest in being a precinct leader.  We’re not sure what to do.  There’s people who want to do things and can be harnessed for power, but they have no direction, unless they want to do this time-consuming thing that is geared towards extroverts.  My sister reports similar levels of disorganization with the official democratic organization in her city.  The woman’s organization she joined, however, sounds just phenomenal.  Focused, brought in outside speakers about strategy, etc.  I will probably take my sister’s suggestion and call them to ask for advice.
  • I do think right now that political action is worth slowing my research down for.  But I can’t slow it as much as it has been.  That probably means cutting the regencies, not posting regularly on Tuesdays, and being more focused on work when I’m at work (even though some of our new hires are chatty).  Possibly also adding half a day or more of work back into weekends.

How are you all doing?


30 Responses to “It’s been a bad week/month/year and some RBOC”

  1. Miser Mom Says:

    Sorry to hear life has been so rough, especially for #2. Stupid paperwork hassles on top of true grief is such an . . . insult. (That doesn’t sound like a harsh enough word, but I can’t think of a better one).

    I don’t know what it’s like at your institution, but where I work, we try hard to protect junior faculty from too much committee work, the result being that their return from their first post-tenure sabbatical is like hitting a brick wall of governance work. And yes, research suffers until you learn how to squeeze that in, in spite of all the meetings and reports and such.

    The local “diversity and inclusion” meetings that have sprung up in my neighborhood are similarly unfocused. (Not to mention, the people at the first meeting were all white middle-aged suburban women, most of whom were trying hard to guess what people-not-like-us actually want. sigh). I’ll keep crossing my fingers that we can nonetheless keep people coming together and make progress on action items that actually make a difference.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Meetings would be so much more effective if people would just follow the Getting Things Done rules for meetings. (As in, have an agenda that you follow and don’t leave without action items.)

      I can’t use the “not used to new service” excuse here because I was post-tenure before this leave and should be used to it by now. It’s just hard to get back into research AND teaching AND service. Plus my professional service went way up while on leave. The real thing is I got used to having free time and doing fun things and reading novels more frequently. Plus the election and post-election stuff.

      I have a tendency to take over badly run meetings, so it’s probably just as well that DH went instead of me. We’re still not sure what to do about it though. I want to just say, “screw it,” but I know that’s not what we should be doing. DH is still thinking on it. There’s still a possibility that we could join the campus organization instead– sometimes the students are more organized. But they’re probably also less interested in local issues. So we should probably figure out when those meetings are and attend one. Oddly this year I don’t think I have any students who are active, or if they are they’ve been quiet about it.

    • Rosa Says:

      the amazing thing, to me, after all the various groups I’ve been involved with, volunteer and professional, is that people can be SO BAD at things and still get a lot done. But it’s true. Stuff still often gets done!

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Wish that were true here, but we’re a blue dot in a sea of red and nobody votes because democratic candidates aren’t on the ballot. Voter registration isn’t going to help things if there’s nobody to vote for. It is demoralizing. Stuff is not getting done. This seems to be pretty true across the state. Even though demographics say we’re purple, the state is getting redder and redder.

  2. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    Poor kitty! We wish him & his people a good outcome. For many years we were servants/nurses to cats with a range of health problems that eventually included diabetes, thyroid problems, kidney disease, 2 types of cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and congestive heart failure. So BTDT on many cat ailments and we truly sympathize.

    Re-entry is being hard for me, too, not so much because of workload (small classes due to drop in enrollments: not good for the bottom line but good for grading) but b/c of the balancing act, much more commuting, more time with people, and not having the free time. Also having all-new secretaries in the department, who aren’t always up on How We Do Stuff. I realize there’s nothing really to complain about in my life; it’s just . . . I don’t like change, and I really enjoyed my leave!

    My students are not getting it, and it’s too late now. I blame changing a 3-day course to 2 days: for some subjects, shorter, more frequent exposure is much more conducive to learning. But the dept had Reasons, so I did it. I hope the Reasons will go away next year. If not, I’m going to have to make huge changes to this course. Nonetheless, I’m baffled at the degree of not getting it that I’m seeing. I suspect a lot of them just didn’t put in the time that they needed to, but even then, I feel a bit like a musician trying to teach the tone-deaf—I just can’t fathom how they can’t hear the difference between this note and that one. I’m wondering if (or rather, how much) I need to curve the final grades to avoid a time-consuming batch of complaints . . .

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We’re not getting as many people in the major this year because we usually have two (out of three) stellar teachers teaching the intro class and this year one of them was on leave and another has a course reduction and the adjunct who replaced them turned out to be terrible. Meanwhile one of our related majors has a much beloved new hire teaching their intro course and is getting an increase in majors, so I think we’re seeing some selection there. On top of that, general admissions tends to affect the quality of the overall class (and day and time of day tends to affect who enrolls in my courses because of selection into who is willing/has to take the class). And my Xday section is 2x as large as my Yday section… which means a bimodal distribution in X and a normal distribution in Y.

      There’s a lot of randomness going on.

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Today’s action item:

    I’m going to call someone about Michael Flynn ( and also fake news ), but I’m not sure who.

    Last time I called my senators, but who else should I be calling?

  4. chacha1 Says:

    my week just got worse with a review that consisted of “we have no complaints but you will not be getting a raise or a bonus.”

  5. Alice Paul Says:

    Further ideas for involvement. Are you in a union? Get involved! Is there a local paper? Get to know the editorial board and staff, maybe consider writing things for them (you could rework some of your posts here). Is there a food bank? Many food banks are part of a national network called Feeding America that does a lot of other advocacy including lobbying. Historical societies. Park boards. Zoning boards.

  6. Kay Says:

    Ok, also this…(hope this makes sense). I live in Massachusetts and a very liberal area of the state….think Amherst, Hampshire, Smith (though I do not work at any of these institutions). Anyway it has been only what? A month since “the event” and I’m starting to hear people say things like….he is our president we must try our best to respect that and try to work with him….some sort of blah blah bullcrap like that. What!!? I say really? Work with what???? No no no no no noooooooooo
    I will keep resisting, challenging and calling out the bullcrap until I see otherwise.
    Maybe I’m just surrounded by idiots?

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I have a friend similarly situated in MA and she says the same kind of stuff re: her friends (not her– she realizes this is an excrement-show).

      Maybe they feel safe in their little white blue bubble? (My nuclear expert colleague did say that by MA friend will probably be ok because Boston isn’t really on the nuclear bombing list and we don’t really store nuclear weapons in MA.)

      We do not feel safe here. Not at all. (See: bumped post on campus hate incidents.)

      Still, are they not paying attention? How can you feel safe with someone who keeps appointing people to high level positions who are either incompetent (see: heckofajob Brownie’s work on Katrina the last time someone hired incompetents to important positions) or bigots or have strong ties with a government who wants to bring us down. Also: getting rid of Medicare, shutting down the free press, etc. etc. etc. Not to mention his own conflicts of interest and graft that he is doing blatantly without a single person in power saying boo to him.

      I’d be happy to respect a president who appointed competent cabinet, who didn’t play dangerously with foreign policy, who wasn’t a bigot, etc. etc. etc. You know, basic human decency stuff.

  7. KeAnne Says:

    I so get this and echo the spirit of this post if not the same events.

  8. J Liedl Says:

    Hugs to #2 and to all of us because, man, this year is hard in so many ways.

    I, too, found that therapeutic reading helps. My library has finally gotten a whackload (yes, that’s the technical term) of new ebooks. I put myself on the waitlist for many as well as borrowed what I can. This week four more just showed up in my account. Yikes! Best get reading. But it’s a good thing to have these books. Something new, something fun and something that gives me energy/hope to fight on again even harder afterwards.

    Other than this, I’ve been busy what with shuttling youngest around for her end of term activities (first exam tomorrow morning at 9!) and wrapping up my own term. Lots of marking but not as bad as most years. This is the joy of actually having a fall term where I’m NOT teaching the first year survey. It may be the only and only such autumn before my retirement many years in the future, since my colleague who took that on instead of me has been flattened by the workload.

    I’m also researching up foods for GERD as well as gallstones. Someone in my household has all sorts of new and challenging dietary/lifestyle changes necessary. We’re even talking about some new furniture since, apparently, GERD is exacerbated by seats that lean back. *sigh*

  9. chacha1 Says:

    my congressman has his knives out:

    December 5, 2016 Press Release

    Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued the following statement on the nomination of Dr. Ben Carson for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development:

    “Remember the famous commercial where a man is flying a helicopter and reveals he’s not a pilot but he did ‘stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night’. Trump’s nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to lead HUD reminds me of that commercial. ‘Do you have any experience running a large federal agency or knowledge of housing and urban development?’ ‘No, but I stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night.’”

    “This would actually be funny if it weren’t so tragic. HUD deals with real people’s lives, from homeless veterans to discrimination to affordable housing. I call on Dr. Carson to do the right thing, follow his own prior statements which indicated he wasn’t qualified to lead a federal agency, and withdraw. America is the greatest nation on earth. We are not a TV reality show or a funny commercial.”

    December 7, 2016 Press Release

    Washington – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) issued the following statement regarding the nomination of Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.)

    “Donald Trump, who lost the popular vote, has nominated anti-environmentalist Scott Pruitt to lead E.P.A. As Oklahoma A.G., Mr. Pruitt acted as a de facto lobbyist for the oil and gas industry by challenging President Obama’s E.P.A. rules to reduce planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions at our nation’s power plants. In essence, Mr. Pruitt has never met a federal environmental protection that he likes. It is deeply disturbing that Mr. Pruitt, who has spent so much time trying to undermine the E.P.A., is now being asked to run it.”

    “Equally disturbing is the fact that Mr. Pruitt does not believe in climate change. As a Veteran and a Colonel in the Air Force Reserves, I wholeheartedly agree with the U.S. Military’s position that Climate Change is real and a threat to our national security. What does Mr. Pruitt know that the Pentagon doesn’t ? The answer is nothing. Mr. Pruitt is the wrong choice to lead E.P.A.”

    Imma send him a Christmas card. :-) Mr. Lieu, that is, not those other two gasbags.

    • Rosa Says:

      along with therapeutic reading, it might be useful for some of us to switch from calling/mailing about things we oppose to sometimes also sending thank you and support cards and emails.

      I just got this notice:

      I think it is important to show support for various groups who stand up to this type of behavior…whether it is from Trump and/or his supporters.

      Send thank you cards to Chuck Jones, head of the Union 1999 at Carrier, for telling the Truth about the Carrier deal. Trump came out against him on twitter and now he is getting threats.

      Chuck Jones
      President USW Local 1999
      218 South Addison St
      Indianapolis, IN 46222

  10. Funny about Money Says:

    {sigh} It’s a gray time, no? I can’t even stand to look at this political stuff anymore…it’s literally making me physically sick. Il faut cultiver nos jardins just now…we’ll need the food, soon enough…

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