Random Bits of Quarankademiqz

I am an associate editor with a disciplinary journal. Another associate editor incessantly sends me manuscripts to review (as a reviewer) and I turn it down. I specifically avoid sending stuff to my fellow associate editors to review because I know they already read plenty for the journal. I wish this associate editor would take a hint and stop sending me stuff. (No, I am not the only or the best person for any of the work he sends me. I bet I’m just the first sort-of in-area person that comes to his mind.)

I had a “battle” with university-level sponsored research office at award closeout. I love how these always start with them being condescending and commandeering toward the PI, as in “Lowly PI, thou have transgressed. Thou must obey!” I pushed back hard, because I know my program managers would approve these expenses and the expenses have already been scrutinized heavily (heavily=taking way too much of my time) by department and college. Doing computational work, I dared buy computers for my students and I guess those are considered office supplies; no, for us they are not, they have custom configurations and are essential equipment). Eventually, the admin folded, but all this red tape irritates me to no end and is such a waste of time and energy.

I am teaching in person and it’s going OK. What I don’t understand are the students who have never showed up for class. Not once! Why sign up for an in-person section if you’re never going to show up and there’s another section that is completely online?

I have done a ton of writing for service since the semester started. All the blogging and fiction writing made this probably far easier for me than it is for most; I have almost no barrier (other than sheer laziness) when it comes to writing technical or admin materials. I wish we conveyed to prospective faculty members everywhere just how much of a faculty member’s job is writing. IT IS ALL OF THE JOB. Seriously. It feels like all I do is write or edit someone else’s writing.

During the pandemic, I have been doing OK. Some cabin fever, but not too bad, as I’ve managed to take my hourlong “murder-prevention walk” most days. But, in more frequent (online) interactions with colleagues these days, it is clear, yet again, what a wide chasm exists between those of us who have to take care of others and those who don’t. The thing is, overall I actually enjoy having all this extra time with my kids. During the day, Smurf sits at a desk next to me, while Middle Boy is just outside, in the next room. And no, I don’t kick anyone out when I have calls, because they have the right to go to their Zoom school. But I see some impatience and irritation from people on the other side whose kids are either nonexistent or safely tucked away. I heard from one kidless partnered colleague how some people have been just fine, working like nothing has changed. Yeah, I bet he’s been fine. All his comment did was made me want to cut him. (Look, I know all people have problems. But I am just not in a very charitable mood toward those who cannot see past their own nose and imagine how the pandemic affects those with significant caregiving obligations. And before anyone thinks to say “Well, you chose to have kids,” don’t. Just fucking don’t.)

Men v women. In my class, I polled the students about some class logistics and offered, as response options, strong preference for one or the other, some preference for one or the other, and neutral. All the boys expressed a strong preference, and all the girls expressed mild preference. That made me furious, because I guarantee that girls have preferences just as strong as anyone else’s, they’re just trained not to be too loud, not to demand too much. In contrast, the boys think that, of course, their wish should be everyone’s command. I remember this from my own relationships, where the man says we should do as he wishes because I don’t seem to feel very strongly about something (or anything), whereas the whole time I’m contorting myself not to be too demanding, too intrusive, or too much.

We have been instructed to strictly hold exams within our class periods, to minimize student clustering in the hallways and whatnot. Yet there’s of course an instructor (wanna guess their gender?) who insist on extending the exam 15 min into my class time. I am all for breaking stupid rules, but some rules are reasonable and necessary. Why are some people so fucking selfish to think these don’t apply to them? Just stay within your own goddamn exam period. It’s not that hard.

I’m so fucking tired of having to tone myself down, shut myself up, make myself small in order to palatable to people. It’s amazing how I didn’t see or rather didn’t mind it when I was young, all the mansplaining/condescension, and how much I do mind it now, and even mind it retroactively, fuming over the injustices done toward my younger self.

Yeah, I fume a lot.

In other news, writing is going well and I have had some contest placements and even have a request to revise and resubmit from a pro-paying market I’ve been trying to crack since I’ve started writing! Thanks to biweekly writing challenges, I have a ton of new flash to shop around, and the benefit is that I am less precious about any one story than when I write one every few months. The abundance (as opposed to scarcity) mentality is really something. And, as a result of constant practice, my writing leveled up—not only has the volume of my output increased, but so has its quality.

What’s going on with you, wise and worldly readers?


  1. WTF, does your fellow editor not understand the difference between an editor and a board member? Like… WTF, really. Though maybe the EIC needs to step up which papers go to which editors if you’re getting things that don’t fit you too. (Not if these are just overflow though.)

    I think with middle-age, we women are “allowed” to become prickly with less push-back. Certainly most of the women I admire and look up to have gone strict no-bs. Like we no longer put up with that excrement. Behold the field upon which my fvcks grow, lo, it is fallow.

    Yay writing going well!

  2. Behold the field upon which my fvcks grow, lo, it is fallow


    Estrogen is the hormone of giving too many undeserved fvcks. As it diminishes, it takes all the fvcks with it. Freedom!

  3. All of my colleagues/students are very understanding about kids at home, and it’s still a challenge because it distracts me when for example my three year old Zoom bombs my class in pirate face paint and tap shoes, or my seven year old starts commenting on what I’m teaching, not to mention the interruptions for help with virtual schooling and so on. Someday this will be over I guess?

  4. I’m so fucking tired of having to tone myself down, shut myself up, make myself small in order to palatable to people.

    Agree with this – newer to my dept (which yes, is full of the “wanna guess their gender” [as is every physical science department]). But the vibe in the department is always using flowery, positive language to not ruffle feathers and be optimistic about everything… even when it’s not that great/a significant problem.

    Which then lead to me works to tone-down my language to fit with the department vibe – despite the fact that I typically don’t have a problem speaking up or being direct. But as a woman, I’m worried this makes me to appear weak. Vs. being myself, and being direct, I’d probably come of as … you know what they say.

    *Sigh* – just venting out my pre-tenure tribulations. The second guessing social dynamics wasn’t something I was expecting.

    Also, being on Zoom has changed my language to use a lot of “maybes” Perhaps” etc. – don’t know why, but they are much more present then when I taught/had meetings in person.

  5. I like having my kids around all day too. I like having lunch with them. I love not having to drive them to school in the morning, and having to pick them up in the middle of the afternoon when it’s sweltering. I really appreciate all the extra time I’ve regained in not having to commute or just make myself presentable for public. Yes, my personal grooming is a little lax. The trick for me is to remember to save some energy to help one kid with schoolwork in late afternoon and evening. She needs a lot of help every day. I’m not sure if there’s more work or if I’m more aware of it, or that she’s falling behind with the online format.

  6. I realized about a year ago that my usual self is perceived by most people to be very assertive and forceful, and that when I *try* to be assertive or forceful, many people are very off put by this, they’re like, “Why are you so ANGRY,” which, I’m not. I’m just trying to get you to listen to me. However, when I try to tone it down, I find people don’t listen as well (or at all). It has been really challenging for me to walk this line, especially since my job requires that I be assertive not infrequently. I’ve been working on appearing smaller and quieter, and self censor quite a lot (though I know most people think I don’t self censor at all).

  7. I am also wondering about gender fuckery. I’ve been asked to step into a leadership roll that, at any other institution, would be absolutely insane for a junior faculty to be even offered. I initially turned them down because it would kill my productivity, but more churn is afoot, and dudes have suggested that I try and use this as a negotiating chip for early tenure. I wonder how much of my hesitance to ask is due to me being a woman? Even though I know a good chunk of my hesitance is also because this place doesn’t seem to value this roll very much and early tenure is pretty generous exchange rate; also early tenure decisions have historically gone poorly here… (though I am not privy to why, obviously). But yeah… self-doubt abounds.

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