The thing about plans

I’m a planner.  Perhaps most of us in academia are.  I planned on completing a Master’s, going on for my PhD at a new institution, finding a partner during that time, getting a job, and then starting a family shortly after that.  I have a lot of friends who have/had similar plans. Life doesn’t always go according to your plans, unfortunately.

My partner and I started trying to conceive two years ago. Two years ago I was in my mid-thirties.  Two years ago, I thought it would happen within a few months of trying, I would finish my PhD, have a baby, and we would move on to bigger and better things.  Two years ago, I didn’t know that one in eight couples face infertility.  Two years ago, I didn’t imagine that we would have to face aggressive and expensive fertility treatments without the ability to pay for them. Continue reading

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Hey fucker, let’s talk

ImageThe topic of this post has been covered ad nauseum; nonetheless, I feel it is necessary to bring it up because it continues to be a problem.  I get that people often have strong and passionate opinions on various matters, and it is natural to want to share these opinions.  Discussion and dissent are important, but only when productive.  Too often, disagreements devolve into vitriolic spats with both sides becoming defensive, which defeats the central concept of open dialogue—you know, talking to each other not at each other.

For those of us that aren’t speaking just to hear ourselves speak, communication, particularly in the form of online comments, would be far more productive if people would follow these guidelines when disagreeing with one another.  Continue reading

2014 – This will be the year

Over the past year and a half, I’ve experienced a number of losses that have affected me profoundly.  These experiences have left me with a new perspective on my life.  Life is short.  I need to learn to appreciate my life now, not wait for some future that may not happen.  I need to stop putting off personal goals so that I can achieve professional goals.

For so long, I’ve focused on achieving mid- to long-range goals.  For example, during my master’s, I focused on getting into my top choice for PhD programs.  During much of my PhD, I’ve focused on setting myself up for a tenure-track position.  Along the way, I worked hard and allowed myself few breaks. Now that I am nearing the end, I find myself very burned out.  Continue reading

The offer refused

Recently, I applied for my first academic job at a small state university.  The description for the tenure-track position fit my skill set perfectly.  I have to admit, though, the thought of working for a small university close in proximity and within the same state system as my previous (and very negative, see for example here, here, and here) pre-doc teaching experience gave me reservation in even applying.  In addition, I don’t have any chapters written yet for my dissertation and it likely won’t be finished until this summer, so it is slightly premature to be on the job market. However, a former colleague encouraged me to apply so I did despite my reservations. Continue reading

What’s in a name?

I married young—at the age of 21.  I come from a conservative, traditional family, so the decision to change my name was never really a question.  Of all the married couples I knew, almost all of the females had changed their name upon marriage.  So I, too, changed my name, without much thought to the matter.  It was exciting and I felt like an adult following in the footsteps of the cousins and siblings before me.  But, not too far into the marriage I started experiencing a bit of an identity “crisis.”  After the novelty wore off, and especially when on autopilot, I wouldn’t always respond to my new name.  For 21 years, I had been Gracie X and suddenly I was Gracie Y.  Who exactly is Gracie Y?  I don’t know, it just didn’t sound like me.  In my mind, I was still Gracie X, but people were calling me something else, my signature was strange, and I just missed being who I had always been. I also didn’t expect the baggage of the new name in a new town.  At the time, my husband’s family didn’t have a stellar reputation in the small town in which he grew up. (I was a kid, so why would I think of this, and marriage is supposed to entail riding off into the sunset, right?).  Anyway, I was unaccustomed to the bad vibes I got when people heard my last name. Continue reading

Teaching Naked, Part 2

In my previous post, I recounted how a student interviewed me for the school paper regarding my decision to confront my class about being sexual harassed by one of my students on a mid-semester evaluation.  To give a little context for this post, my article was featured on the front page along with an article about a male faculty member (from the same college, and thus, the same dean) who was suing the university over sexual orientation discrimination and wrongful termination.  Neither my mentor nor the dean in this anecdote had authority over me; my bosses were in the provost office.

After the article was published, the dean of my college was clearly not happy I chose to share my experience publicly.  Continue reading

Teaching Naked, Part 1

I had my students fill out mid-semester evaluations last fall.  No big deal, just answer these four questions: 1) What am I doing to help you learn? 2) What could I be doing better to help you learn? 3) What are you doing to help yourself learn? and 4) What could you be doing better to help yourself learn?  I had them turn the evaluations in anonymously to allow more genuine feedback.mid-semester evaluations

Later that afternoon, I started going through the responses. It was encouraging to see that, in general, responses to the first two questions indicated I was getting better, which was gratifying given the amount of time and energy I spent re-developing the class. For the most part, students were surprisingly honest when responding to questions 3 and 4, showing they understood their responsibility in their progress, or lack thereof. Somewhere towards the end of the ~160 evaluations, I came across one that answered question #2 with: “Teach naked.”  Continue reading