Somewhere, a fat lady is singing

May 21, 2013

The appeal process is almost over – report has gone to the president and while I won’t know for certain for some days, I fully expect to receive a form letter soon that affirms the provost’s decision to deny my tenure here. N will want us to visit an attorney, but I think – I feel – that the time has come to let this thing go. I have done good work here, but I can do good work other places. We like this funny little rural university town, but we could be happy so many other places, and I’m not going to hang my happiness on staying here.

One of my favorite colleagues stopped by my office today and noted that she was amazed by how much I am still just myself at work – that I still seem cheerful and friendly and kind. And we talked about it a bit – I do have my moments but I usually take myself home for them, and for the most part I just want to move forward. There are a couple of people I’d like to shake, but they are all having health problems of one kind or another and seem off and on miserable, and while I’m not above some small rejoicings when certain people have lingering colds followed by major dental work, I’m just not into vengeance.

I also have a life. It’s a good life, filled with love. I have a three-year-old who makes up adventure stories and who likes to play Cinderella but always fixes her own dress when the step sisters (I play the step sisters) rip it up. And she takes herself to the ball and then comes home and makes friends with the step sisters and takes them on a picnic. I have a husband who loves me so much I can feel it even when we’re not in the same room, who has been through a lot this past year but is every day a better daddy and partner. I have a creative mind and a healthy (if well-padded) body. Dot is learning to spot the letters in her name. N and I joined the campus rec center and I’m pretty excited about the elliptical machines and my new gym shoes.

And while there’s a very substantial hole where Teddy should be, that hole doesn’t make my life less good – maybe more painful, more raw, and more complicated, but not less good. It’s hard to explain and I wouldn’t have thought about it this way a couple of years ago. I miss him. I want him back. But that’s become part of who I am and something I can carry, most of the time, without stumbling and falling.

I love my good life, and it makes the work drama much easier to bear. But even so, so many of the people I work with are supportive and honest and really appreciative of what I do. I’m just going to soak that up while I’m here and be open to opportunities. We’ve seen some good people go in the past years, as the university struggles to gain funding and grants and to promote faculty research. While all of those things are important, it’s not lost on me that the people who get left behind are sometimes the ones who really care about teaching and supporting undergraduates. I love my office, I enjoy almost all of my colleagues, and my work is rewarding, but my self-worth isn’t tied to this place. It’s freeing, that thought.

Somewhere, a fat lady is singing.

Oh, it’s me. I’m singing.

Letting go tends to be very difficult for me. I wonder what it means that, right now, it is so much less difficult than I’d expected…



  1. Sing it, sister. 😉 However the song ends. Work is important, but I think most people (& people like us, who have experienced the very worst of life most of all) realize that it’s not the most important thing. You may have read on my blog that my dh recently lost his job after 24 years — I remember one of the first things I said to him was that this was NOT the worst thing that’s ever happened to us. It sucks — but we’ll survive. We’ve survived much worse.

  2. Whatever it means, I’m glad it’s less difficult than expected. Maybe you’re feeling possibility in the air and the energy to step into it. Are you feeling the energy? It’s kind of new to me, feeling somewhat refilled after being drained for several years now.

    I love this: “And while there’s a very substantial hole where Teddy should be, that hole doesn’t make my life less good – maybe more painful, more raw, and more complicated, but not less good.” I’m constantly struggling with how to say. This works for me.

  3. I’m so glad to read this. I wish I could let go more gracefully.

  4. I’m glad that it is less difficult than you had expected.

    I’m still angry and a little foot stamp-y on your behalf but it sounds as though you are ready to move on to somewhere new. And hopefully somewhere better?

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