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January 24, 2005



Good for you. It's not healthy to be so angry, nor good for your spirit to cave in so as to avoid anger. And it's whacked that the system offers only those options.

That said... I know how hard making that decision can be. So I want to simultaneously cheer and hug you. Hang in there. If nothing else, learning to live a life where the responsibilities are not so daunting and the rewards so intangible, where you are ordinary and don't have to be extraordinary, can be surprisingly comforting. (Sometimes boring and tedious, too -- so then I remember grading. :) )

Be well.


When I gave up on an academic career and came back home to Oregon, I was startled at what a difference it made to no longer be in a profession with a huge labor surplus (or huge employer shortage -- however you want to look at it.) I was fortunate enough to have a knack for computers, and it was a good time for that, but even before that happened -- when I was doing grunt kitchen-work in restaurants -- it was a marvellous feeling to be wanted, even needed, by employers. I don't think I understood until I got out of it, just how demoralizing it was to be negotiating my life's work from a position of complete powerlessness.

Now, of course, there's a huge oversupply of programmers, but the culture hasn't caught up to that yet -- we're still treated as valuable, scarce commodities. When the culture does catch up, I'm outta there :-)


Oh, a life without grading! I can't wait.

Thanks to both of you for these things--they're benefits I hadn't even thought of yet. The idea of being both ordinary and appreciated for the work I do--can it possibly be real?



Yes, it can be real. Actually, I have to admit that I still find it rather _sur_real -- especially when people praise me for doing something that either (a) I didn't find particularly hard or (b) I had assumed was just the normal way of doing things. I'm talking little things like being organized, being able to make sense of the idiosyncratic computer system, planning ahead, being aware of details, knowing basic points of grammar... Given this, it took me a while to realize that they were serious, and not just teasing the new person with the shiny impressive (and largely irrelevant) PhD. (They do still sometimes tease me about it, so I've learned to be pre-emptively self-depreciating.)

You wouldn't think these are noteworthy virtues, but apparently they are -- and your academic training has made you well-endowed with them.

Ms. P

Wow...the idea of your being wanted, needed, even, at a job. It's a beautiful idea, and one I hope we both get to see very soon. One I know we'll see very soon...

Cheeky Prof

I could have written most of this post. In the first paragraph alone it seemed as if you'd been doing a secret documentary on my work life. And you're right, I think, that is IS pretty much the same elsewhere. I, too, have been thinking about leaving and praying it will be better elsewhere. But who knows? I hear enough stories from colleagues to know it's a gamble. And what if after the hassle of applying and moving (assuming I got something) it was worse? Then again, do I want to stay where I am, unhappy, out of that sort of fear?

Grrrr. If you find a solution please promise to share it. And know that you definitely are not alone in this.


I'm both sorry and glad to read this. Sorry because I don't want anyone else to be going through this sort of thing. Glad because I'm desperately afraid it's just me, and it's nice to know it's not, that other people are seeing the writing on the wall.

I think the hardest thing for me is knowing what the narratives will be if I leave. It'll be that I couldn't handle tenure, or my health got too bad, or Ms. P's job situation wasn't good. It'll be that somehow, I couldn't make it work, instead of that the department and the university and the profession as a whole is just fucked up beyond repair. I really don't want those to be the narratives, but I can't stick around here to trump them.

I hope you find a solution that works for you. I'm more and more convinced that exiting stage left is my only option here. Feel free to email if you want to talk more about this.

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