“No matter what one does, whether one’s deeds serve virtue or vice, nothing lacks importance. All actions bear a kind of fruit. – Buddha”
If you read here often (Yes! You! I’m talking to all 3 of you!) you’ll know that I’ve been going back and forth about what paper topic to submit to the ESA Natl. Meeting this year.
I really wanted to do a poster about the attacks on Rachel Carson, because I know that most entomologists are unaware of it. It pains me to see a great woman vilified with so many lies.
On the other hand, I also don’t want to do something that will seriously hurt my chances of making a career move in the future. And I think that’s likely, given the political connections of the groups involved, and the rabid persistence of some of the wingnuts running the attacks.
So, in the crunch hours before the deadline to submit an abstract, I decided to do something strategic, rather than….well, what I think is the right thing to do. (I’d emailed a couple of people with more clout than me to ask advice about this, but didn’t hear anything back from them. I’m hoping that just means they are out in the field, and not that I’ve offended them.)
I went with something that would bear fruit for me, rather than the larger community good. I’ve also applied for a new job, and I’m actually, tentatively, kind of excited about it.
If I got it, I’d have an impressive title, and it would be a great transitional position into something better. I love working in student affairs, but it isn’t valued by most academics.
And here we are back at fruit again–I know that the work I do in my current job is meaningful and important. I have the letters and emails from students I’ve helped to prove it. Some even say I’ve saved their life by intervening when they felt suicidal or lost. Nearly every day I go home knowing I’ve made a difference for at least one student.
I don’t regret the choice I made to switch out of the faculty track to serving students directly, but I do wish I didn’t get treated like an inferior, embarrassing, mentally-deficient cousin because of it! What is it with faculty? They are such assholes sometimes.
That’s part of the reason I bailed on the faculty tenure-track thing on the first place.
So, while I am a member of the local entomology department, and do committee work for them, I also have lots of people in the department who do not speak to me. I mean, don’t even say hello when we pass in the halls, or–and this hurts worse–when I greet them at off-site entomology meetings.
They carefully avoid making eye-contact, I guess because my “failure” is catching. I still publish–my latest manuscript will be out later this year–but I don’t have giant grants. I don’t have post-docs. I don’t FIT.
Why is my choice to have a life and not be a faculty member anymore so scary and unacceptable? Why is everything I publish and say professionally because of that choice suspect and diminished? Are undergraduates really so icky that contact with them has contaminated me?
So, I clutch my little fruits of emails and letters and happy hugs closely, and try to know that I’m doing the right thing in my job. I write, anonymously, in this blog and try to change some of the silly things people say and believe.
But, sometimes, it’s not nearly enough.