The semester, a big object rolling down an incline

As we rapidly plow through the semester, the awards are starting to come out of their boxes. One of my students won one of those “female” awards and it’s all my fault.

Our STEM offerings lean strongly towards more math-heavy fields, as opposed to the more cuddly bio-related fields, so with the implied male-to-female ratio it’s particularly important that we make a special effort to recognize women’s excellence. I always feel a little weird about those sorts of things because they often seem like some sort of consolation prize, or “let’s put the girls over here out of the way”. But, I nominated her anyway and she won. I didn’t have to go to the ceremony because I was teaching at the time, but my lazy-ass Chair went in my stead; he was the one that should have made the nomination in the first place. (“Lazy-ass” isn’t actually fair, but he dropped the ball on this one.) She seemed to be excited about winning the award. The good news is that she is going to win an important overall award at the end of the semester which is a bigger deal. And, she has a good job lined up after graduation.

Our semester started about as early as it could, so we not terribly far from summer. I’ve never missed more classes this semester than in any two semesters combined, and only a couple were necessary. It’s hard enough going to work when you know that nothing good will ever happen there, but throw in anxiety and depression, too many expectations on you, and maybe something physically wrong. It’s been overwhelming sometimes. I’m usually out of energy to do anything but my most lazy-ass non-work activities in my free time. (And to be fair, I do have a decent amount of free time since I have no family, friends, or any other social life. As usual, it is more about energy level than actual time.)

I’m seriously considering going through the effort to request a leave of absence this summer. Not that I’m expecting to be under contract for any work for the three months, but I need time to work on some research, to develop yet another new course, and get the new facility fully working ASAP after it was a year late. I.e., stuff that only the beautiful people get to do under contract. The hope would be to get free of all of the stupid other stuff that ends up taking as much as 4-6 weeks of my summer. I’m frankly sick of being the only one on campus much of the summer who isn’t being paid and isn’t doing anything of my own choosing. There’s no chance of getting paid for any of this and no chance that my Chair or Dean would voluntarily find somebody else to do some of this shit every once in a while, so the only other option is to head them off at the pass. I don’t think I have the balls to do it, though. It also sounds rather crazy after writing it out.

However, I am going to have the balls to put down just 5% for my research effort this year, assuming my Chair ever asks for my yearly plan this year. These follow the calender year and not the academic year and I don’t even have my Chair’s evaluation for last year even though contracts have been issued; WTF? Hell, 5% is how much research I was doing when I won that stupid fucking research award last year. If Chairs and Deans have no fucking clue what their faculty are actually doing at a small school like this, it probably doesn’t matter what I put down. On a related note, I’m really tired of my colleague who was featured in paragraph 5 of this post stopping by to talk all about his active research program. He’s literally talked to me about his research program more than the amount of time I’ve actually spent on research this semester. Of course the latter might actually be zero, but I would need to double-check that. And of the two of us, I’m the one who is supposed to supervise student-faculty research.

If my job search keeps failing and something doesn’t radically change here I’m going to have to leave science or kill myself or shoot someone in the knee with an arrow or something suitably radical. A non-violent coup d’├ętat is on the list, too. I keep cashing the checks, so I suppose I should just suck it up and stop complaining, but I probably won’t.

Ah well, I’ll leave you with a little “power shoegaze” from 2008; unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything better than just the music over a still:


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