The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Good Talk

Posted by Seeking Solace |

And with a click of the mouse, my semester is over...and I am unemployed.

On the plus side, I had a conversation with the new dean, the Dude,  of the division that houses my department at HBCU. He was very nice and seemed to have the same values that I do with respect to the needs of the students and the faculty. I shared with him my experiences as a dean, which he really appreciated. Then he asked me about next semester...

So, I told him.

I didn't go into detail about the hows and whys of my not having a class next semester. I told the Dude that he should probably discuss that with my boss. I did tell him that I was not happy about it at all. I told him that despite everything, I really enjoy teaching at HBCU. I told him about my passion for teaching and for working with the students that we service. I told him about how I've applied for several jobs, only to hear nothing or be passed up without even being considered. He told me some things in confidence about stuff that is going on at HBCU, which I will not mention here. He did confirm my suspicions on some things and indicated that he would look into something for me...again something unbloggable at this point. There are some forces at work that may blow the winds of change toward HBCU, which will benefit the college as a whole. And, maybe me...who knows.

In the end, what was supposed to be a 15 minute conversation turned into 45 minutes of good dialogue and active listening. For the first time, I actually felt that someone heard me. I felt valued and validated. That meant a great deal to me.

So, we'll see where we go from here.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Not good, but great

Posted by Seeking Solace |

When I was in my first year of law school, I had this one professor who had the reputation of being a total hard-ass. If someone looked up the Socratic Method in the dictionary, she would be a reference. She would use her red pen of death on our papers that there was more red ink than black. She did not allow students to revise papers. She felt that if what you submitted was your best effort, then you need to accept the grade that goes with that effort. For many of my classmates, what they thorught was their absolute best effort was met with a less than favorable grade.

When it came to my papers, she always left a note saying, I am not grading this until you make the following revisions... With a heavy sigh, I made the revisions she suggested, only to be told to revise the paper again and again. I think I revised one paper four times before it met with her approval. The end result was not only an "A" on every paper I submitted, but an "A" for the course.

I didn't tell my fellow classmates about my revision opportunities. Law school is very competitive and I knew that I would open the flood gates by disclosing my "advantage". But, I had to know why my professor allowed me revise my papers when so many of my classmates were not afforded such a luxury.

She told me that she saw something special about me. She knew that I had what it took to be successful in law school and beyond. She said that she wanted to push me to see if I could exceed her expectations, which I did quite well.  She wanted my work to not just be good, but great.

Twenty-one years later, I find myself doing the same with the students in my undergraduate law course. I have two students who possess the ability to go beyond my expectations. Both of their semester project papers are good, but they could be so much better with some revision. So, like my law professor, I gave them constructive feedback on where they need to make some changes, sent the paper back to them with a new deadline for submission.

And, just like my professor, I told them that I want their work to not just be good, but great.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Just a little craziness around here

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Things are a little crazy in the Waiting Room...

  • I took the GRE again, I raised my quantitative score another five points. My verbal score stayed the same and I raised my essay score. I did not study for the verbal section this time. 
  • I finished my application for full admission to the PhD program. Husband loves my personal statement. It's a very honest look at why I am doing all of this. 
  • I submitted my last paper for my PhD course. 
  • Husband has been adjusting to his new job.
  • We went to Redneckville for Thanksgiving and Husband's high school reunion. Husband got a kick out of how many guys look more like Dr. Evil, while he still has his hair. It's a salt and pepper look, but he has HAIR!
  • Still nothing on the job front for me. I am waiting to hear something at a CC in a neighboring county. Looks like I will not be teaching at HBCU in the Spring. 
  • My students at HBCU are actually doing a good job. They have been relatively quiet, although I am sure things will ramp up this week with their project being due on Friday. 
  • I do have one student who has legitimately dealt with every conceivable tragedy this semester. All of his instructors are working with him to help him finish strong. He is a really good student. 
  • I have not been running as much as I would like. The weather has not cooperated.  I suppose I could run on my treadmill, but..well...see the list above. Junior and I have walked or did a light run, but not at training level. 
  • That means I may not do the Arthritis run this weekend. If the weather is good, I might sign up on race day and see how it goes.
  • Junior is just being Junior.  He has lost another two pounds. The vet said that he should be around 80. Currently, he is at 88 pounds. He was at 95!
I think I will be able to exhale on December 15th.

After that, I am not sure what I will be doing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

When Fog Leads To Panic

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Brain Fog is very common issue for people with autoimmune diseases. It's bad enough that my joints and organs take a beating, but so does my brain. Brain Fog is just like it sounds; you feel like you are in a fog. You brain cannot process things as easily. You can't think through the simplest task. You can remember anything. You don't know which end is "up".  Your brain is just tired.

Today is one of Brain Fog days. I knew it when I woke up this morning. Usually, I wake up the same time as Husband. But this morning, I slept until 8:15. I vaguely remember Husband trying to wake me up and my saying that I wanted to sleep. Even Junior let me sleep it.  I guess he figured Mommy was tired.

As I fumbled through my morning, I just couldn't get it together. I had several tasks that I needed to accomplish, but I couldn't put together a simple "to do" list. Frustrated, I decided that I would take Junior for a walk. The sun was shining and it was nice outside. I put on my workout gear and headed out with Junior.

As we walked our usual route, I started to feel the Brain Fog lift. I was able to process how I was going to complete my tasks for the day.  I was starting to feel a little more human and contemplated doing two laps around the neighborhood, which is about two miles. As Junior and I reached our house at the end of lap #1, I noticed that my garage door was open. 

I thought to myself "Did I forget to close the garage door? I honestly do not remember closing it."

Now, I do live in a relatively safe neighborhood. But, that does not mean that one doesn't take the usual precautions. At that point, any remaining Brain Fog morphed into panic.

"SWEET MERCIFUL CRAP, I left the garage door open!"

I ran into the garage and into the house with Junior in tow. I began to thoroughly inspect every single inch of my house, again with Junior in tow. I even said out loud "If there IS anyone in here, I do have a very large German Shepherd."

Junior was not fazed by all of this. I think if there was someone in the house, he would have reacted immediately. Instead, he just followed along on his leash, thinking this was part of his walkies and that his Mommy has lost her mind.

I didn't find anyone, or anything, out of place.

Exhaling, I looked at Junior and said. "Should we finish our walk?" Of course, he did a his happy dance whenever someone says "Walk". 

With the Brain Fog lifted and my anxiety level down to somewhat of a normal state, we did our second lap around the neighborhood. Before we left, I made sure that I closed the garage door.

I actually watched it close completely.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

One Poor Correspondent

Posted by Seeking Solace |

How many of you use LinkedIn? I don't think many academics do, except for the part about being listed there. There are other networking sites for academics, but I think the premise is still the same. Part of LinkedIn is writing recommendations for former colleagues. It's similar to writing a traditional recommendation, except that it is viewable by the public. There are also endorsements, where a pop-up will appear, asking if Person X is versed in Y skill-set. You can click "Endorse" if you agree.There is a bit of a quid-pro-quo going on here. You recomend me, and I will recomend you. You endorse me...

You get the idea.

Since leaving Career College and Tech College, I've been flooded with email and face-to-face requests for recommendations and endorsements. I am happy to oblige for those who ask. Unfortunately, I am way behind on responding to the numerous requests.

Like writing any letter of recommendation, it takes time to write a response. I am not the type of person who just phones in a recommendation. I really do take the time to think about the skills and talents of the person I am recommending. Also, this means I need to be in the right frame of mind to write these types of things.

I am not ashamed to admit that my own laziness is a big part of the problem. It is hard to writing a recommendation for someone who already has a job when you are looking for one. Of course, there is the quid-pro-quo that I mentioned, but that is kinda hard to reconcile when you feel like crap about your own circumstance. Sure, there are folks who are in the same position, but excuse me while I feel a little sorry for myself and be a little narcissistic.

I know...I hear the tiny violin too.

I feel horrible about being a poor correspondent. I feel bad that I did not live up to a promise. So, I get depressed about that, which only magnifies my own depression about my own job situation. I keep telling myself that I will get to it, but that time never comes.

I've decided to give myself a deadline. I do much better when I have a deadline hanging over my head. Classes at PhD Uni are finished on December 3rd. All of my deliverables are due before Thanksgiving. Final grades at HBCU are due on December 15th. I not have any additional distractions from December 15th forward, so that will be the week that I will catch up on my correspondence. I need to complete at least two a day until December 19th. That will put a huge dent in my backlog.  I've put this on my Google Calendar, so that it will pop up and remind me of my commitment.

That will get me back on track to being a better correspondent.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Big Fish, Small Bowl

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Husband begins his new job today. He is a little nervous about it. It's not the usual new job jitters. He is not the only new guy at the site. He is on of a group of five or six that were specially picked to be part of a specialized group at his new company.  This group is only the second of its type at the company, and the first group at one of the branch offices of this company. So, Husband is working with his work and intellectual peers on a somewhat brand new venture.

He feels like a big fish in a small bowl. And, that is freaking him out, just a little.

I kinda understand what that is like. I remember my first day of law school orientation. On top of the classic "Look to your left, look to your right" speech, I and my fellow first year students were reminded how we were to top of the deck, the top 1% of the 1%. I was with people who were my intellectual and academic equal. I was a big fish in a small bowl with a lot of fellow big fish. And, that scared me.

Law school was very competitive, almost cut-throat. I remember classmates hiding books in the library that were needed for assignments. Some people were not open to collaboration or even studying together. Even when I did find some good folks to form a study group, there was still a "I'm in this for myself only, mentality. In the law school fish-bowl, there are a lot of piranhas that have no problem eating their fellow fish.

I don't think Husband's new job experience will mimic what I experienced in law school. But, I didn't want to diminish what he was feeling either. My thought was about how much pressure there is when we embark on something new. Regardless of the pressure being institutional, self imposed or both, it's still pressure. I did tell Husband the same thing he told me when I started law school. They wouldn't have picked you unless they truly believed that you have something to bring to the table that no one else can. You are about to start something really great. Enjoy the ride. You got this.

Then, in my best Stuart Smalley voice, I said, "You are good enough, smart enough, and gosh-darn-it, people like you.

It is tough sometimes, being a big fish. But, in Husband's case, I think he will be happy swimming in his new fish bowl.

Friday, November 07, 2014

Writing While Running

Posted by Seeking Solace |

When I go for a run or a fast walk with Junior, it's not only about the exercise or getting a vitamin D fix. I use that time to think about stuff. Sometimes, I would try to resolve some issue going in my life. Sometimes, I write in my head, meaning I will compose something in my head to write later. This is true when I have some sort of writing piece that is due.

Today's run was about a paper that I am writing for my PhD course. The writing task is a simple one. It's an executive summary that should be no more than five pages. I don't have a problem with the length of the assignment; it is geared toward legal writing style which means keeping it short and to the point. Also, I found a great template to help me organize my summary. But, the ideas are just not flowing right now. I've got the GRE coming up in two weeks, plus work-related crap that has flooded my brain to the point that I am unable focus on this paper.

That's where my run/walks come into play. Once I get a good stride going, and Junior is not stopping to sniff and pee on everything, I can think about what I want to say. By the time I finished my 2.5 mile run, I had written my introduction in my head. Once I was inside, I immediately went to my computer, sweaty and tired, and typed what I had dictated in my head.

Now, all I need to do is write the rest of the paper. Too bad tomorrow is my off day from running.