Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I'm about to settle in for the extra hour of work I do most evenings now (amazing how that keeps me sane, balanced. No more than an hour at night, no less, but matters all the world). Before I do, I was thinking about the process of putting together the 3rd-year review at work.

At my school, you are reviewed for tenure in your sixth year. The halfway point to that review is the preliminary, or 3rd-year, review. You compile all of your performance reviews, your student evaluations, your publications, your grants, your awards, etc., and you write a letter explaining how it all fits together, how the committee is to make sense of you. I've heard varying versions of its importance: some of my colleagues have said it's no big deal, don't spend any time on it, hold things back. Others have said I should treat it like I would the tenure review: with respect and attention. I'm not sure which advice I followed, but either way, mine is due tomorrow.

It's done, but as I was putting it together, and writing the letter, I was thinking about all of the things that don't go into that notebook. All the things that have defined me over the past few years and that have affected my work, my ability to work, my desire to work. Things like the following (in no particular order):

the sleepless nights with sick children;
moving to a new house;
countless flus and strep throats and colds;
having children (add after this the million decisions, the absolute joy, the anguish of it all);
commitments to personal and spiritual growth;
the manifestations of an aging, imperfect, and willful health;
financial windfalls and shortages;
parents, family members, and friends who encounter their own mental and physical health crises;
spouses losing jobs, and getting jobs;
failures of belief, or confidence;
starting businesses, and closing them;
moments of freedom, and delight, that have nothing to do with getting paid;
and so on.

Now that would be a doozy of a dossier.

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