Tenure dossier creation is an ungratifying process thus far

Well, last night I sent Andy over to a friend’s house because I am so frantically trying to put together this dossier that I couldn’t take the time away. I missed sushi–LA sushi–for this.

Yes, I know it’s the last minute to be printing things out, thank you for pointing that out.

When I was UCLA, Brian Taylor was going through tenure, and I was one of his graduate students. While I sort of sympathized in my clueless, grad student way, you just don’t understand this until you’re in it. And then I think maybe like childbirth you forget the pain. Anyway, Brian was remarkably gracious and sweet to me, despite the stress and his father’s declining health, and had I been in his position I would have shaken me until I frothed.

Here is my assembled wisdom:

1) Do not assume that the Staples on Fig is going to have a binder big enough for your manuscripts. I would say this is a testimony to my big big productive self, but it’s more to do with the fact that last week was the first week of classes and Staples has nothing left on its shelves.

2) The good news: you can watch tv while you print. Did you know all the Dr. Babes on SyFy got their PhDs, tenure, and breast implants all at the same time? I know: I just saw it on Mega-Shark v. Octopus. Laugh if you will; it was awesome: a shark jumped out of the sky and ate an airplane. I have a new flying phobia now. Then there was Spring Break Shark Attack where the evil date rapist got eaten by sharks, and where they learned nothing from Jaws about not keeping the shark bait attached to the little ship with the put-put engines. Then there was Kraken, Tentacles of the Deep, with the Dr. Babe with fabulous Farrah Fawcett hair.

3) I am lonely and listless without teaching. Don’t tell my dean or I’ll never get another course release.

4) Do not try to assemble your dossier at the last minute in a loft that contains a six month-old kitten. There will be anguish.

5) Printing all this crud and putting it together takes longer than formatting your dissertation.

6) I am less worried about not getting tenure than I am by the deepening feeling that the big challenges seem to be behind me. Making full doesn’t seem relevant or challenging or interesting–I don’t know why. These first years have been without a doubt among the most enjoyable years of my life thus far, eclipsed perhaps by graduate school. Perhaps. I love what I do, and there is a weird part of me that loves the do-or-die performance aspect of it.* My icky competitive nature is the reason why I pursue grant money: I like the race; I like to win and I hate to lose, and all attempts to make me a better sport and more ladylike throughout my childhood failed–thank God.

But I like the race even better than the outcome. Tired as I am–and I am tired–I had fun. I guess now I am supposed to be an expert. Experts travel around, give talks, write “state of the field” papers and whatnot. I don’t really like doing those things. The best hours are the hours alone with the data and the ideas. I’d give any number of invited talks for a fresh dataset at this point. I don’t think I am supposed to feel this way.

6) The Staples in Pasadena by the Gold Line is also near Bev Mo, aka “heaven.”

7) It is remarkably comforting to talk to my Galileo finger puppet. He thinks I’m going to get tenure.

8) I think I’m proud of my binder. I think.

*Oh it will hurt if the answer is “die” but even if it is, I didn’t take a safe professional route; I did what I wanted, which was to write, think, read, and talk about ideas for a living. I’ve had a blast, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, I would have listened to Randy, Gen, and David more and mouthed off less.