The main reason I remain anonymous on this blog is because I like to have a corner of the world where neither students nor colleagues can find me. Even with this cloak of anonymity, because I am untenured and also not stupid, I don't generally indulge myself in posts of the "Venting about IDIOTS at work" genre. Sure, the chances of being found are very, very small, but why risk it?
But I have to say that recently I was at a meeting with a member of my department whose presence generally makes me believe that, given the right weapon and conditions, I am in fact capable of disemboweling another human being. Now, one of the best things about being an academic is that most of the time, one does not have to deal with the idiocy, attempts at social climbing, and generally aggressively careerist tendencies of one's colleagues. Perhaps an aggressive colleague might impact one's ability to get tenure, but in this context I am also fortunate to be at a school where the faculty is unionized, and this means that the tenure process is completely transparent. In other words, it is not possible to be struck down because someone on the anonymous tenure committee doesn't like the way you dress. So most of the time I am capable of ignoring the idiots; sometimes I am even able to laugh at them.
So, like I said, I was at a meeting for an academic program at our college that is near and dear to my heart. I have been mulling over how to constructively make changes in it in order to attract more students, but this is tricky because the people who have been running the program a while differ from me in their ideas and outlook and I don't want to capsize the boat from too much rocking. I can't risk being too specific here, but suffice to say that the faculty member whom I'd happily disembowel was at this meeting even though s/he is not part of the program for which the meeting was called. S/he has a long history of emailing everyone in the department whenever he or she accomplishes anything. In other words, things that normal people would just add to their CV this person makes into press releases. The latest thing in his or her life - as we all know from a recent email - was a fellowship to participate in a conference supported by an online idea sharing site called ted. This website is actually a fun place to browse - it's kind of like NPR lite. Edutainment with self-help icing and a dollop of management gurudom in the style of The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People. In other words, it's not an academic resource.
So anyway, after attending this conference, my colleague, who runs two different self-help style seminars and is the kind of person who identifies as a "visionary" or "reformer," has decided that now s/he is going to take our college by storm. In an effort to spread the gospel of ted, s/he made us all watch a ted-based video of a popular writer on religion in America who is not only a dilettante but who is also someone whose ideas about religion (hint: core idea is that all religions are about "love") are, I truly believe, at best impotent and at worst ideas that contribute to rather than help end religious violence. HIVES. This popular writer gives me HIVES and there I was at a meeting listening to my messiah wanna-be colleague stomping into the meeting like some latter-day godzilla, representing the academic program that I have quietly been trying to change in a stunningly idiotic, impotent and actually dangerous way.
Did I mention that s/he now carries a new backpack with the ted logo on it?
So as I sat there quietly in the aftermath of the video, feeling the veins in my forehead pop out and telling myself that this was not the time and the place to take a stand, I felt the fetus begin one of its thunk-thunk-thunk-on-the-uterine-wall sessions. Normally the fetus is only active in the evening, so this sudden mid-day foray into uterine gymnastics was unusual. It could have been a response to the sudden rise in my blood pressure and adrenaline levels, but I prefer to think that that's MY child in there, ready to tear its way out of the womb to assist in the takedown of the messiah-complex colleague from hell. With apologies to Arlo Guthrie, I have chosen to believe that at that moment, the fetus and I were both jumping up and down yelling "Kill! Kill!" The two and a half months of morning sickness are now officially forgiven.
Thanks to everyone for the good wishes on my pregnancy, by the way. And I am still knitting pretty things but none of them are postable because they're all gifts for blog reading friends due in May. An update on the ongoing Lilyfield mitten tragedy is in the offing, though.