Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Nerdy Goody-Two-Shoes

I came home today and spent a while telling the gf about my day. Basically I told her that while it was crazy busy with meetings, gatherings, and a great presentation on administrative issues at the U, it was a pretty good day, all in all. I cancelled a meeting with my administrative supervisor, which I have never done, to work on a grant that is due any moment. I felt very brave for doing it, and we just simply rescheduled... no big deal.

In recounting my day, I realized two things about myself. I am a nerd and a goody-two-shoes. Of course, the gf was helpful in the self-realizations!

When I started explaining the things I had learned at the U presentation today to the gf, she rolled her eyes at me and called me an "administrative nerd." I am a nerd, she explained, because I find the administrative details we discussed--such as how the budget works, how policy decisions were made, and the role of the Board of Regents in policy and budgeting decisions at our university--incredibly interesting. I guess I can see her point. I have read the Chronicle of Higher Ed since I was a doc student, and I still find it one of the best reads in town. Really, it is both educational and entertaining, providing insights about teaching, admin, and so on, alongside academic scandals and salacious gossip. What more can a girl want? I also follow my discipline: who is being hired where, which Deans are succeeding and which are failing, where schools fall in the US News rankings, and who has good jobs available. I have only recently come to understand that other faculty don't do this! So, I am only now coming to grasp my true nerdiness.

The goody-two-shoes part I learned about pretty early in my faculty life. In my first faculty meeting as a new assistant professor, we all were assigned tasks to complete before the next meeting. You probably can see where this story is going. At the next faculty meeting, turns out that I was the only person who did what we were asked to do. It NEVER occurred to me not to do it. I assumed that everyone would complete their tasks, and I was shocked that people said that they had "gotten busy," "forgotten about it," or just "had other things to do" and ignored the assignment. And even while I now see that not completing a task is a possibility, I hardly ever do it. I have learned not to put all of my time and energy into everything, but to prioritize my tasks and save my energy for the important ones. But I am not one to blow off a task. I would rather refuse up front to take a task on than to ignore it. Mostly my behavior is rooted in my desire not to be seen as incompetent, lazy, or forgetful--all of which I have been (or been called) at one time or another.

This is why cancelling the meeting was a big deal for me. I know, I know--for most people, it would be an everyday occurrence. I have had people cancel meetings with me all the time, and I have never thought twice about it. Yet, I always feel like attending a meeting is a commitment, and I rarely cancel them, especially with someone who is supervising me. What if they feel like they have been blown off and get mad? What if they think I am not serious about my administrative job? But today I realized that something had to give, and this meeting could be, and was, easily rescheduled.

This is a lesson I clearly have to learn and re-learn. I had the same issue around cancelling class, which, again, I rarely do. It actually took me 2 years, and some prodding from the gf, to get me to cancel class once when I was sick. (I usually get someone to fill in, lead class, or show a movie or something.) The gf said, "You know, the students will probably be happy and relieved." I was surprised to find this was true. The same goes for meetings--cancelled meetings equal free time, which is usually not a bad thing. (It is only bad for me when I don't find out that the meeting is cancelled until late and I am only coming to school for that meeting. That sucks.)

So, I will just admit to my nerdiness and status as a goody-two-shoes. Both of these qualities seem to help in administrative life, at least most of the time. And I can occasionally ignore a task or cancel a meeting and feel like a rebel. Who says administrators aren't wild?

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Back again--from a local bread store near you!

So, I have been off doing research and gathering with friends and family in my (well, my partner's) old home state. And it has been lovely! The weather was wonderful, the reunions with friends were fun, and the wedding I attended was heartwarming and sweet. The gf met me Friday for the wedding festivities, and we will continue to enjoy family and friends over the weekend. Well, I will be doing a little work, too, but that is to be expected.

I have spent a good deal of time in Panera's across the state, of which there are many. Good food, free wireless, homey atmosphere--some of the newer, posher ones have fireplaces! They were a great spot to respond to emails, work on grant proposals and reports, and (because I am in the South) have conversations with people I do not know. Sometimes I think they made these restaurants just for traveling academics, but I have met enough traveling salesmen, local businesspeople, and mom-and-child support groups to know better.

It is amazing the difference that a laptop and WiFi make in my life. I have been on my computer in airports, college buildings, restaurants, in friends' homes, etc. My favorite moment was late evening at a friend's house, where she, her partner, and I all sat at her kitchen table with our laptops open, pausing to read one another crazy emails from students and colleagues while we tried to empty our inboxes. (The other two are also academic administrators, so we all understood the need to get to the email sooner rather than later.)

While I can tell I am away from work, few work colleagues can. After one set of email exchanges, pretty much in real time, one colleague whose office sits across the hall from mine wrote me back and said, "Where the hell are you???" Access to my email and documents has been a great thing, even while it has made my trip less relaxing and less focused on research and family.

So, I will be back blogging regularly next week...perhaps from our local Panera!

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Watchin bad movies

I had a stressful day, full of boring meetings, conflict with colleagues, and a missed appointment. It left me in need of a night with the gf: a Mohito at a new restaurant, my second viewing of the Bourne Ultimatum, and a couchbound night watching the Mo'Nique comedy special, "I coulda been your cellmate" (which was muthafuckin' awesome!)...

In fact, if you get a chance to see the special on Showtime, I would recommend it. She speaks to the personhood of the women in the prison where she is performing in a way that is moving and calls for something better in all of us--all while being absolutely hilarious! The girl is wide open!

Okay, that is the normal part. Now I have to come clean and admit that I stayed up and watched some good/bad movies once the gf had gone to bed.

In a shout out to Profgrrrl who has her 80s teen movie moments, I have to admit to watching "Save the Last Dance" yet again. I mean, Sean Patrick Thomas and Julia Stiles... damn. While Thomas is in my age range, Stiles is far too young for the Lesboprof, but I am sure I could handle either one if I had to. :-)

I will proudly say that I do not actually try to do any of her dances, though I definitely know them by heart. (I actually made the mistake of watching "Save the Last Dance 2" the other night; that was just terrible!)

This love fest was followed by "Say Anything"... Nothing better than Lloyd Dobbler (Cusack) in all his sweet, quirky weirdness. And the first time they have sex is just incredibly touching (no pun intentional), and the disclosure to the father the next morning is priceless.
Diane: "But I didn't want any problems. So, I decided not to sleep with him..."
Father smiles approvingly.
Diane: "But then I attacked him anyway." (Father looks less happy.)
Diane: (smiling) "It always feels good to tell you the truth, because if I can't share it with you, it is almost like it didn't happen."

If someone had only shown "Love and Basketball," my adolescent love movie fest would have been complete. Their lifelong friendship, romance, and relationship is such a great model for love. Nothing beats that final ball game where she is "playing for his heart." I am such a sap. And Omar Epps and Sanaa Lathan are both incredibly hot. Sigh.

How do you decompress?