Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oh yeah, that's why I avoid service

I serve on a committee I should like because it addresses a topic that I really care about. We haven't met for a while, and over time I forgot why I didn't like this committee. Until today. I did my assigned duty, and I was immediately criticized for how I did it. Oh yeah, that's why I hated this committee. Anytime I did any actual "service" to the committee, I was told that I wasn't doing it right. I have yet to receive instructions on how to do whatever I'm supposed to do correctly, so I guess I'll just start doing nothing. I can do "nothing" very well.

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The day I've been trying to avoid has come. My husband has been accused of giving me preferential treatment. (We are in the same department).

When a married couple is in the same department, nepotism, or whatever the word for it is (marriagism), is waiting at the line. There is an unofficial policy of married folks not serving on the same committees, and I completely agree with that. But there are some instances where the idea of favoritism comes inching in. Suppose that the husband or wife is in charge of allotting resources, TA support, class assignments, etc. Reasonably, he or she should have a second party review the proposed decision before signing off on it (which is what Mr. JP did).

But, faculty like to complain. And when faculty don't get what they want, they tend to go after the lowest hanging fruit or the sorest spot in terms of complaining. So now, I have been named, in writing, by an angry faculty member as a recipient of favoritism from my husband. (Honestly, the idea of him favoring me for anything makes me raise my eyebrows). Presently, this is being handled by the department head, who is smart enough to see what is really happening.

The whole thing makes me uncomfortable because I have to interact with this angry faculty member for possibly years to come. They do not know that I am aware of their accusations. I can't look at them the same way.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Am I Funded Yet?

I should be hearing back any day now on an NSF proposal, and I can't help but click away at the status page. I know the site doesn't update every 30 sec, so why am I - like a rat - clicking away at something that still says "Pending"?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Herding Cats for Service

This job entails teaching, research, and service. There appear to be many differing opinions on what constitutes service activities and how much service is appropriate. To me service, includes sitting on committees, being an officer in a professional organization, organizing symposia, sitting on thesis committees, acting in an administrative role (e.g., ABET coordinator).  I'm sure I missed some other activities, but you get the idea.

Many of my colleagues shy away from doing any service at all. I can understand the rationale, being that there is no tangible return (money) for doing service. Even so, shirking duties can be frustrating to me because it puts that much more service work on those willing to do it.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of service is when you rely on other faculty to complete your tasks. For instance, suppose you need volunteers to judge student talks or attend a science demonstration. In this case, it is an activity that you can't do all by yourself. When volunteers are required, I am left to herding cats and twisting arms to get faculty to give me even a response. I know that they are quietly deleting my email requests for volunteers (hey, I do it, too). At some point, I have to call them up or talk with faculty face to face to drum up warm bodies for the service task at hand. This whole process is extremely time consuming.

I think that faculty are reluctant to do service activities because they spread so thin for time. If service is neglected, then there are no repercussions. Even promotion and tenure evaluations seem to poo-poo on doing major service (at least from what I have seen). I have never heard of a department head/chair telling a faculty that they weren't doing enough service. Ha!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Do Have Two Children or Three Dependents?

When I tell people that I have two small children, they are usually taken aback, saying something like, "Wow, how do you manage all of that?" The truth is that I'm not really managing. All of this is just happening. The daily grind just happens and things don't get finished or perfectly done.

And when Mr. JP is down and out, I find myself taking care of three people. I believe that I am supposed to take care of him in these times, but it does become very difficult to manage the household as well as my career. My group is running itself, but I am now back-logged with proposals and manuscripts. Everyone is waiting on me at work or at home, trying to get a piece. I'm hungry! Read my manuscript! I pooped! Wah wah wah! Have you written that rec letter yet?

Fortunately, Mr. JP is doing a bit better these past couple days.

Even so, I feel as if I am on that psychotic party boat from the original Charlie and the Chocoloate Factory movie, where I keep hearing:

Round the world and home again
That's the sailor's way
Faster faster, faster faster

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing
Is a hurricane a-blowing

Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing
Is the grisly reaper mowing

Yes, the danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing

Monday, August 6, 2012

Distorted Perceptions Caused By Depression

My husband has had depression for many months, perhaps even over a year. I don't know how to help, and I feel insanely frustrated and sad. I am especially sad because I just realized that I've been so happy for the last two weeks, during which time, he and I were separated at various conferences.

I wake up in the mornings so happy and ready to attack the day. He, on the other hand, wakes up depressed and sullen. We usually drive to work together, and on that drive, he talks about how he hates work and everyone there. I usually spend this time trying to convince him that what he sees isn't true to reality. By the time we get to work, I, too, am so depressed from these discussions that I can hardly start my day. Today, I lost it, because I'm so tired of the depression. But that just made it all worse. I'm at a total loss. He's already getting help, but it just doesn't seem to be enough.

Work is surely going to improve in the next coming months. We've got a new department head and new staff coming. Good changes are in our future. That's how I see it at least. He sees it as, "that department head is going to come in and tell me how horrible I am doing." I just don't know how to break that cycle of thinking - that's not the reality here! And when I tell him that his perception of reality isn't true, he gets very angry with me. 

So now I'm crying in my office with the door shut.