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In the past 10 days or so, I have heard from approximately 6 different guys whom I have “dated” – some more seriously, some less – from out of the blue. It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a steady suitor whom she apparently likes a great deal must be in want of the attention of tragic exes.

Also, as Medusa noted, there is a bit of a nip in the air, so they may just be feeling frisky, like zoo animals.

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As of today, it is out of my hands.

First things first: this is totally a different feeling from applying for tenure and my first promotion.  After that, I went into a bit of a tailspin, which led me to reading Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight Saga.  I know.  Clearly I was in a deep, dark place.

This feels much less horrifying.  I mean, sure, I might get denied, but I won’t lose my job. There are no real consequences to failure here, while there would be consequences to not applying, i.e., if you don’t apply you can’t get promoted.

Also, I do feel confident – not certain, but confident.  Look, I’ll be the first person to tell you that there are weak spots in my application.  There are.  I had a couple of semesters where my course evaluations weren’t fantastic.  Did I ultimately address the things that caused those problems?  I did.  But how much weight will be given to those?  No idea.  And since we don’t do peer evaluations of our teaching, and we are never observed by our chair… yeah, that might mean something.  (Though one might argue that perhaps if we took teaching seriously enough to evaluate one another as professionals that I might have solved those problems more quickly….)  And is my research as strong as I would – in the platonic ideal of what a full professor’s research profile should look like – like for it to be?  No, it isn’t.  Now, I’m not embarrassed by what I’ve got – given the rest of what I do, I actually think it’s strong.  But might these weak spots result in me getting denied?  Yes. On the other hand, I’m comfortable that when people review my application that they will understand why I applied. Maybe I’m not a “sure thing,” but I’m not anything to sneeze at either.

And I know this: I worked really hard on my application, and I took it seriously.  I made the best possible case for myself that I could make (which my dean emphasized was the most important thing that I should do, when I spoke with her about it). Given some things I’ve gathered from our new provost and dean, I might have included too much.  But, as I noted to another administrator, whom I really, really like, I’m in a rhetorically difficult position with this application.  1) None of us actually know what this new dean and this new provost want, since they’ve never seen what our materials have looked like in the past; 2) This is the first year with the new electronic submission process (in our college – the other colleges had a “trial year” last year, but our old dean refused to allow any electronic submissions last year), so within my department the evaluators have never seen something that looks like this, and they might just be expecting what they used to get only uploaded vs. in a binder.  Given these two very different audiences, I tried to split the difference and emphasize my narrative (as the dean and provost have indicated they expect) while at the same time including TONS of evidence (the old model was all about throwing everything in but the kitchen sink, which I did not do, but I included more evidence than I would have done if I were more sure that everybody was on the same page about the “emphasize your narrative” portion of things).  The way I figure it, nobody is going to have a gun to their heads to click on all the things, so this should make everybody happy.  I hope.

I know that working hard on the application isn’t going to get me the promotion – that’s like students thinking that “working hard” means they should get an A – but I also cared a lot about demonstrating that I realize what a big deal this is.  I mean, sure, all it really means is that I get an 8% raise.  That is a bigger deal than it should be in the financial climate of higher ed, but still, small potatoes.  But should I get it, this is my third and final promotion of my career.  I don’t want that to be something that I throw together.  It is something that should have gravity.  It is something that I should invest myself in earning – not only in the work that I do but in the way that I present that work.  Effort should be part of doing this, I think, even if it shouldn’t be what gets you the promotion, which I don’t think it should be.  Basically, I believe that if you really deserve the promotion, part of what “deserving it” means is realizing just how important this final promotion is and showing that in the care that you take with the application.  I know, I’m secretly a Pollyanna.  Whatever.  I’ll cop to that.

Now, what will be interesting is how all of this plays out over the next three months as the various applications wind their way through the various levels. In my department, four people are applying.  This is an unheard of thing.  We currently have 6 people who are fully promoted.  All of them are men. Over the age of 50.  One was promoted within the past decade, and one we inherited when he lost an administrative position. As far as I’m aware, only two of the others went up at the same time.  We are not a department that has actively mentored its faculty to aim toward full promotion. (We are a department of around 30… of that 30, only about 7 haven’t been around long enough to be reasonably eligible to apply for full [5 of whom either just don't have tenure yet or only just got it last year] so basically we are talking about 17 people who should be on track for promotion but who have not been mentored toward what they need to do to achieve it or encouraged to apply.  And when I asked for guidance about it I was actively discouraged from applying “too soon” or told that I would “just know” when the time was right.)

Now, one person who is applying is CF, and I know she’s my friend and all, but I expect that her chances are as good as mine or better.  While she doesn’t have as good a publication record as I have, she does have better grant stuff than I do, and in service and teaching I feel like we are neck and neck.  I also know that she took her application very seriously.

Then there’s me, and naturally, I think that I am grand.  That’s a joke, by the way.

Then there is another colleague who….  Let’s just say that there are some Red Flags with this other colleague.  But this colleague does do a good job of spinning accomplishments to seem like they are more meritorious than they really are.  So it is all about how far the evaluators dig into this colleague’s accomplishments.  That said, I know this colleague was working on the promotion application this summer, so I’m sure that the application itself will likely be decent.

Then there is the last colleague, whose application I actually saw a bit of today, who began putting it together a week ago.  This colleague is confident because “the materials speak for themselves” and because this colleague believes that s/he has support from one of the full profs.  This colleague did not consult with IT about the new format and about best practices for putting together an electronic document of this type.

So, with all of that being said, I am done.  If I don’t get it, I’ll have the majority of my shit together to reapply, and I’ll have feedback about what was missing. If I do get it, I CAN SAY EVERYTHING IN MY BRAIN ALL OF THE TIME.  Well, I won’t, but I COULD.

In non-promotion news, things with Footloose progress apace.  We are going to the symphony on Friday :)

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  • One grant application submitted – check.
  • Promotion materials approximately 75% complete and will certainly be done no later than Monday – check.
  • 4 stacks of things to grade? Not touched, but soon!
  • Two more grant apps (one external, one internal) that must be done by Oct.1
  • Attempts at a personal life…. moving right along, in fits and starts.  The good news is that it’s ok that I’m a workaholic.  The annoying news is that the reason that this is ok is that my current One True Love is similarly a workaholic.  Will we ever have time to see one another more than once a week?  I am hopeful, but not optimistic.
  • A student who “hates, like HATES” in a way that is totally upsetting her, James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. All I can say is that I am kind of proud that she’s hating something even though it’s on a syllabus.  Because, frankly, she is a student who twists herself into knots to love anything a prof has assigned.
  • My colleagues.  MY COLLEAGUES.  I can’t even.

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I appear to have what I believe is a cold.  I believe that this is a cold, and not allergies, because Footloose has reported a scratchy throat, the appearance of which neatly coincides with the appearance of my congestion.  Further, two days prior to these happenings, CC reported similar symptoms, which I dismissed as allergies, and we hung out.  So either we all have allergies, or we all have an awful end-of-summer cold.  Breathing out of one nostril, it is not fun.

But so yes, the semester is off to an… interesting… start.

Teaching:

My classes are fabulous.  They are full of students (which may not seem like something to brag about, but given the situation of some of my colleagues, this is something to brag about), the students are enthusiastic and excited about the material, and my return to a MWF schedule remains the best decision I ever made.  I am very excited about what I will accomplish in the classroom this semester, and about what my students will accomplish.

Research:

Kind of on the back burner until mid-September, though I am going to try to get another article polished and submitted.

Grant applications:

I’m applying for two NEH grants, and I’m applying for an internal grant, too.  All of those deadlines will happen by October 1.

Promotion application:

I’m applying for full promotion, and that deadline is September 15.  I figure I’m about two thirds of the way done with putting all of that together, and I should be done-done by September 12.  The process is tedious and exhausting, and I am totally flying without a net since I’ve had virtually no mentoring and since we are moving to an electronic format for the first time.  I’m trying to convince myself it doesn’t matter if I get it.

Service and the institution:

This is where things get really interesting.  Lots of Big Initiatives and Big Changes afloat at my institution.  None of this is a surprise, though I fully expect many faculty to be SHOCKED and AFFRONTED and for the rumor mill to go into overdrive with paranoid conspiracy theories.  We hired a new president two years ago, and in that two years we have had a massive administrative turn over, as is typical.  We also have a new strategic plan, and we are coming up for our accreditation 5-year review.  And we are revamping our budget model – which dates back to the 1970s – and assessment is HAPPENING although most people outside of the Colleges of Business, Health Professions, and Education seem to have been unaware that this was coming (huh? what planet have they been on?).  And apparently we are also “revisiting” our General Education program.

And I apparently am going to be the Assessment Guru of my College.

It looks like I am back in the thick of things, in spite of my efforts to scale back over the past couple of years and to get the target off of my back.  Indeed, I feel like the target is large and red and has flashing lights.

Whatever.  If I learned anything from my work on curriculum a few years ago, I can handle a target on my back.  I will live to fight another day, whatever this academic year holds.  I’m not sure that others will be able to say the same.

 

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The Year of 40

So, I am officially 40 now, even though I started celebrating 3 weeks early.  And, to my surprise, I have been carded four times when attempting to purchase alcohol in that time, and one of those times the young whippersnapper cashier at Kroger actually disputed my ID – I said, “No, I just had short hair then,” and he said, “I know this is you, but there is no way you were born in 1974.  I was thinking 1982 tops, but more like 1985.”  I also have had a bunch of people randomly comment positively on how great I look.  I can only put it down to the fact that I am wearing heavy bangs and they cover my forehead wrinkles?

In other news, professional things proceed apace.  I am totally overwhelmed and busy, but all goes well.

And then there is the whole “dating two guys” thing.  Footloose and The Mailman remain in the picture, and I’ve been out on three dates a piece with them.  Of those three dates per suitor, I have cooked dinner for each once.  I think they are both great, in equal and opposite ways.  One is very cool, and he inspires me to be cooler.  One is very relaxed, and he inspires me to be very relaxed. Those are just two examples.  Who the fuck knows.

But if you would have told me that I would be dating two great guys and feeling great about my professional life and have a great crew of friends and feel like there are too many great things to do to the extent that I am exhausted (though righteously so) at 40 years old, say, when I was 38?  I would not have believed you.

Turns out, 40 is the most fabulous age ever.  First day of school is tomorrow.  I should be asleep, but alas, I got totally off schedule over the summer.  The good news is my first class is at 11 AM tomorrow, and I got totally ready for Day 1 and 2 when I went into the office on Saturday.

Random thing: If you’re not watching The Witches of East End on lifetime, and if you were a Buffy fan?  YOU SHOULD BE.

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What shall his pseudonym be?  My mom immediately began calling him “Footloose” when I told her about him, for apparently “Minister’s Son from Nebraska” to her translates directly into Kevin Bacon using the bible to convince a town to allow the dancing.  At any rate, I cannot decide something of this magnitude right now, but it may be that “Footloose,” unfortunately, will stick.

So we had our second date tonight, which was, as the first date was, absolutely perfect.  I have to say, I have never gone out with anybody like him.  Which is saying something, particularly given the fact that I have gone out with like 20 different men in the past year. He is “both a gentleman and yet not… “nice.”  I mean, he doesn’t put on the whole “I’m a nice guy” thing.  If I were to pick the top adjectives to describe him, I would say he is friendly, direct, interesting, genuine, thoughtful, confident, driven, and smart.  He isn’t terribly funny – like he’s not a “funny guy” – but I laugh a lot when I am with him. And I really love talking to him.  There is never an awkward pause, and it never feels like we are doing “date conversation.”  And while he’s not an academic, because he’d been on that path and then veered off it, I never have to explain anything to him.  It’s just… easy.  And FUN.

I will say, I do feel a little off balance with him.  Like, I know he is interested in me, but I’m not certain about how interested he is.  He isn’t demonstrably enthusiastic.  And since I am a person who is, just generally, enthusiastic, I don’t quite know how to read people who aren’t.  I mean, I know that he wants to see me again, and I know that he is attracted to me, but I am having a hard time judging the level of his interest.  What is probably the truth is that he is just taking things slowly – though not too slowly at all!  I think he is enjoying getting to know me, actually.  And I am enjoying getting to know him, so I need to get out of my head.

Of course, part of the reason that I’m in my head is because I am also dating the Mailman.  Who clearly is enthusiastic about me, even though I am pretty clearly, I realize now, “meh” about him.  I mean, I like him and I enjoy spending time with him, but it’s not, like, awesome.  I feel like I will go out with each of them one more time, and then I should be in a position to know for sure what I want.  What I think right now is that the Mailman feels like a Plan B, and I am not really a Plan B sort of person.  But I don’t want to act hastily, so I’ll just have to see how things develop (or not).

But, man, was tonight great.  Great, great, great.

 

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So I realized today that it is somewhere near my TENTH blogiversary. That’s right, readers, Dr. Crazy has been at this whole blogging thing for ten years just about now. I don’t recall the actual date (for I’ve changed locations 2 times since the first version, and I can’t be bothered to figure out the actual date), just that I started at some point in July (during the Republican Convention I think?  I know there was convention blogging, in part about a bizarre fixation I had on Tucker Carlson at that time, and I surely was seeing a fellow whom I named “Stupid Freud”) of 2004, assuming that I would quit almost immediately.  But I didn’t quit.  I still haven’t quit.  Weird, huh?

Lots of people from when I started are now gone, or mostly gone.  Indeed, a lot of those people from the very early days are now my facebook friends and that is how I keep in touch with them. But along the way new people have found their way here, too.  I don’t look at stats at all anymore, because I guess I don’t need to know that people are reading?  And/or I’m not paranoid about who is reading? And I am totally open now about claiming the blog as something that I write, in a way that I surely wasn’t in early days.  How I figure it now is that most everybody in the world knows who I “really” am, and that is really ok.

Although, to be fair, I did learn from BFF that she met a person at a conference who was talking about my blog and who didn’t know who I was, so I suppose there are still some people out there for whom Dr. Crazy is a mystery.  Why have I never gone public for real?  Well, a couple of things.  First, I think people like a Dr. Crazy being out there, and I think it would change things for them if I explicitly outed myself.  As Dr. Crazy, I can be an “everywoman” of sorts. Second, I do think that it would change the way that I write and the kinds of things that I write about if this site were the first thing that came up with googling my real-life name. I’m not saying I’ll never reveal my real-life identity in an explicit way, but I suppose I’m not sure what the value of that would be for this space, at least not right now. I have never seen my blogging as a professional vehicle – in fact, what I loved about it was that it WASN’T a line on the cv – and I really am not interested in seeing it as that. So who knows what the future holds, but this is it, for the time being.  If you’re dying to know who I am in real life I’ll tell you, and if you find out who I am I don’t actually care.  But I think there is value in the “character” of Dr. Crazy, as it were.

But so once upon a time, Michael Berube (and I can’t be bothered to do the accent marks properly, because I am lazy, but he is delightful and generous so I know he won’t judge me) wrote a blog post about my very first Dr. Crazy incarnation, in which he described my blog as “raw.”  And, well, looking back, that blog WAS raw.  I was a newly minted Ph.D. and I was only a year into a tenure-track gig (and I only defended my dissertation a week before my contract started for that job).  And blogging was this new and uncharted territory way back in 2004, and lotsa people were writing “raw” blogs, and I ended up blogging on a whim and the whole point, or so I saw it at the time, was to confess the TRUTHS of what it was to be an assistant professor, and the TRUTHS of feeling alienated and at sea in a new place, and oh, who the fuck knows, but that was what I was doing.  And then somebody threatened to out me, and I decided that I should acknowledge that threat and yet not acquiesce to it but yet move to a different space to signal that I would be slightly less raw.  And then I earned tenure and was on sabbatical and thought that I needed to move to yet another space to acknowledge that transition.  And so here I am now.

And what I realize is this: I no longer write a “raw” blog.  That said, I don’t think it’s fully cooked either.  I think that I give a par-boiled representation of things these days.  I still care about personal writing, about authentic and not-for-publication, not-for-reputation writing, but the reality is that since I’ve earned tenure I know a lot more, and I have a lot more to say, but I also feel much more limited in what I can say authentically on a blog.  Tenure does not give you license to say anything anywhere anytime. It gives you the privilege to fight certain battles, and it gives you the authority to do certain things at your institution.  But, frankly, it also gave me a lot more information than I had before, and a lot of that information is stuff I can’t just bitch about on a blog.  In some ways, I am much more careful about what I say on-blog post-tenure.  And in some ways, I actually think that this is the right thing.  I’m not sure that I believe anymore in the whole CONFESSING THE TRUTHS thing.  I realize now that what I think is true is a fuck of a lot more contingent and that there are things I certainly don’t know.

That said, I still try, in this space, to TELL the truth, if not to confess it or to preach it.  If that makes sense.

So yeah, I am considering this my blogiversary post, even though it might be early or late from the actual date. And I hope that this blog is still entertaining for people, or helpful to people, or whatever, even though I recognize that I am kind of a shitty blogger these days, in terms of frequency and even in terms of the interest-level of my posts.  And also that I recognize that only Comrade Physioproffe is interested in my golf-blogging :) (By the way: we finally used the drivers today, and while it is not my best skill, as long as I manage not to have anybody watching me and I don’t actually allow myself to think I do ok.)

Ten fucking years, people.  How is that even possible?!?!

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