Saturday, July 11, 2015


I got a new job at my university.

I love it, I really do.

I was asked to be the interim Associate Dean for Student Achievement.

My friend Jesse held this position. In fact, he is the one who brought me from Oklahoma to Washington in the first place, saying he felt for sure that I was a wildcat.

But for family reasons, Jesse and his family moved to Oregon, where he took a position at Oregon State.  I miss my friend. In fact, I think everyone who ever worked for him misses him.

I got a tap on the shoulder from the Dean of Student Success. She's a good mentor. She's outspoken, she's got red hair. Hey, what's not to love? And she placed her faith in me by asking me to do this for a time.

So I guess that makes me her "mini-me".

Really, it's quite interesting work. I head a group of 9 directors who run programs to help students succeed academically.  I'm the idea person, and the one steering the boat. I try to coordinate all of our efforts and make sure we're not working at cross purposes. There are about 75 of us. My job goes a million miles an hour...all the time.

What this means for me is two things. First, that I get to try on the job for size. I've only committed to 6 months to a year. If I dislike it, I can go back to teaching full time. The English department is holding my job and my office, just in case. I have time to learn what to do-and what not to do. It's important to me that they do a nationwide search so they find the best person for this job. It might be me; we'll know soon enough. But sometimes in academe there's this move to just directly hire someone without a larger search, and I don't want that. I want to be interviewed and asked the hard questions and to win or not according to my merits and not by any perceived favoritism. If I end up with this position permanently, it will be because of my own performance and not because some higher-up likes me. I wouldn't want my employees to think that's why I got a job. I seriously couldn't handle that. I resent it when it happens to others and a national search is the right thing to do. Yes, I could lose. But also, I'm still not sure that I want the job. Mostly though, I want to do things right.

There are definitely good things about this. I work with pretty amazing people who are committed to helping others. They have a passion for what they do. They're effective. They're well educated. I couldn't ask or better people.

And there are clear paths for my own actions. I tell people that I really work for the secretaries, since they pretty much tell me what needs to happen and what some of the processes are. I do a lot of writing, of research (YAY) and interacting with others in the university. And these last two weeks, I've been volunteering with our new student orientation. Orientation is a huge deal- we have two offices committed to running it every year. Hundreds of people at the university at all levels are heavily involved in this group effort.

There are only two real drawbacks. First is that this doesn't come with teaching responsibilities. At least until January. I'll miss teaching; it's my true passion in life and something that keeps my soul alive. If I do this on a regular basis, I'll need to be able to teach a couple of classes a year. Of course, the upside is that I don't have to do any grading on the weekends, in the evenings, or at any time. My job usually runs from 7:30 to 5:30 or 6.  That's it. I am refusing (so far) to think about work when I'm not at work.

The second thing is that I'm an introvert who has been called upon to do many, many extrovert activities lately.
I love them, and I love doing them. Sometimes the things my office does can make all the difference in a student's life.

Being an introvert doesn't mean that I hate people or being around people. It just means that I draw energy from being alone and engaging in quiet activities and that being around groups means that I spend that energy. And by the end of the week, I am usually drained.

So you know my last post with all the pictures? Yep, we're out recharging my batteries.

I'm going to tell you something embarrassing right now. You might need to sit down.

When I'm all out of battery power, I become cranky and somewhat irrational. I try to keep that to myself and just deal, but uh, that doesn't work. I even try to just ignore it and pretend that everything is ok with me, even though on the inside I'm just about to stop whatever I'm doing, sit down on the sidewalk, and scream like an overly-stimulated child who has had too much carnival rides and ice cream and who now needs a time out or a nap.  Extroverts do understand this. My husband understands this philosophically.  Eventually, I just need a day to myself, to hide under proverbial blankets and not really talk to anyone. So last night, after a long walk and some dinner, G gently suggested that we not go anywhere this weekend. I have to go to a parent barbecue today, with people attending, and be a dean. He suggested that I go to bed early, sleep late, and read a book today. That we not have adventures, that I take care of myself, and that he just leave me alone too.

It's like turning your phone all the way off. The batteries recharge faster and when it comes back on, it's ready to go.

So today, I'm catching up my blog. I'm going to go for a walk, make some baba ghanoush, and read a book. And by tomorrow, I'll be ready to go. If not, I have an extra day to rest.

See you soon; I'm putting myself into time out.

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