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Dec. 8th, 2011 | 08:39 am

I don't think that I'm well suited to academia as a career.

Either I'm thin-skinned, or I just have basic standards of fairness about which I am very stubborn, but outside of teaching (when it goes well) and research (when it goes well), I should probably admit that I hate my life and that I sometimes have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, even though I think I have already done all of the accepting of the unacceptable of which I'm intellectually and emotionally capable. I guess it's just not good enough: I guess I just haven't yet lowered my standards far enough.

I just don't get people's hypocritical behavior, and maybe I should be thankful that I still don't get it, because that may mean that I haven't yet stooped to such a low level. But, in the short term, that certainly doesn't help my feelings of distress.

I try to be moderate, I try to be transparent, and I try to be reasonable, and it seems as if it's never ever good enough. I guess it does no good to be moderate, transparent, and reasonable around people who are immoderate, who deal in hidden agendas, and who are fundamentally unreasonable. Perhaps such situations present "teachable moments" in terms of the principles of an organization like CoDA (Codependents Anonymous).

This actually reminds me that I once wrote a satirical adaptation of the 12 Steps for a fictitious organization called Academics Anonymous. Here they are:
THE TWELVE STEPS
OF ACADEMICS ANONYMOUS
  1. We admitted we were powerless over academia — that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that an Administrative Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of Central Admin as we understood Central Admin.
  4. Made a searching and fearless productivity assessment of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to Central Admin, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our lack of productivity.
  6. Were entirely ready to have Central Admin remove all these defects of academic productivity.
  7. Humbly asked Central Admin to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had ignored in our pursuit of academic productivity, and continued to ignore them all.
  9. Made passive-aggressive comments about such people wherever possible, especially when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were unproductive promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with Central Admin, as we understood Central Admin, praying only for knowledge of Central Admin’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to academics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
What really pissed me off this morning was an email that someone sent me last night. I'm secretary of a regional society in my field, and in that capacity I sent around a reminder of the deadline for the call for papers. Someone from outside of the region took it upon himself to take me to task for the Jan 2 deadline, and took it upon himself to copy in someone involved in the national organization. First of all, this deadline was not entirely my decision, and second of all, this person did not stop for a moment to inquire as to what the rationale for the deadline might be. If the deadline was so offensive to him, maybe he could have read the original announcement (which went out some time ago) and commented on it then.

This comes on the heels of someone making reference in a faculty meeting yesterday to a suggestion I had made at the previous faculty meeting, only to ceremonially shoot it down with my name attached to it. I was not trying to be hostile or controlling: I was just trying to offer support to something that another colleague was saying at that previous meeting, God fucking forbid. What people fail to realize is that I don't care one way or the other. These kinds of issues simply do not impact the functioning of my day-to-day life. But it's not OK for other people to use me for target practice because they've got a problem about something else in their lives. When they act up, their names go on the (steadily growing) List of Assholes, and their names do not get removed until I decide that they may be worthy of probation.

All things considered, I am learning to handle some of this shit a bit better. I simply forwarded the annoying email to the president of the organization, pointing out that I had not dignified it with a response, but if he thought that this was a legitimate issue, he could deal with it. I pointed out the practical reasons why I moved last year's proposal deadline earlier by 5 days this year--i.e., that the program committee had a terrible time scheduling a meeting last year, and because some of the people who had sent in proposals were becoming impatient because they had not heard from the program committee in what they perceived to be a timely manner--and I pointed out that, in the past, we had had a November or December deadline, which would be fine with me, but since I have been secretary the deadline has been in January. I did point out that an earlier deadline would require more advance planning that had been the case since I had been secretary. This particular president has been very slow in taking care of his end of things. If he interprets my comment as a criticism of his presidency, that's fine with me, because it is very frustating to me to have to be the public face of an organization that is not being run efficiently. But people being what they are, they will likely remember me as the horrible ogre who denied people their winter break by having a Jan 2 proposal deadline. This kind of bullshit is why I didn't want to be secretary of this organization to begin with, and why I explicitly told the current president (formerly the chair of the nominations committee during the year I was elected) that I only agreed to be on the ballot because I was pressured two years in a row to be on it. Well, obviously, never again. My logic--which, by definition is to be disregarded and shat upon--was that anybody who's interested in sending a proposal to the regional societies will probably already have written their proposal and will have sent it to other societies by their September through December deadlines, and all they have to do by Jan 2 is run to the fucking post office and mail another copy to us. But again, I guess that kind of logic is for people who plan ahead and who aren't fucking douchebags.

Well, enough of this. I'm not sure whether venting about this is helping or not. Time will tell.

Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,

ak


 

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