Post for October 11, 2020
My stupid financial drama with Utah State University continues, and I may or may not be handling it in the best way possible.
I would include their response here except, oh right, there wasn't one. They straight-up ignored me, didn't fix the problem, and sent an identical automated email about my "overdue balance" this past Friday. I was not amused.
On the one hand, I feel like as a Christian I should have been more patient and tactful even though they don't deserve it - especially after discovering this show "The Chosen" that I intend on devoting a post to in the near future - but on the other hand, I've been walked on and ignored my entire life and it feels really, really good to stand up for myself. Ironically, though the temptation to include some choice unprofessional language was great in both emails, especially the second, I think the restrained and terse word choices I ended up going with were even more satisfying. They make me sound more confident and authoritative than if I'd lost my temper. Weird, right? And nobody can prove that "With respect" was completely sarcastic. I considered the possibility that the university might still get upset enough to retaliate, but I figured that since God told me to take this career path, He won't let me get fired just because I didn't quietly put up with my employer's repeated attempts to swindle me.
In fairness, I suppose it's possible that the university retroactively revoked my tuition award, mid-semester, for no reason, without telling me, in blatant violation of the terms of employment that I agreed to earlier this year. But if that's the case, I'll take legal action against them anyway.
The class I teach is going better, though. The students and I have gotten used to each other so now it feels like an actual group instead of a public speaking assignment, and it's much closer to the dynamic it's supposed to have. I also no longer stress much before each class day because I realize that the students either see me in a certain light by virtue of my position that makes me not look as incompetent and awkward as I feel, or they're not paying attention or putting forth any effort to pass the class and it's not my problem. I still don't bother asking questions out loud unless I'm only looking for one or two simple answers, though. Breakout groups, Google Doc activities, and the Zoom chat are the lifeblood of participation. I no longer worry about filling an entire fifty minutes. This week I have to do brief individual conferences with each of my students, and it's going to be interesting to find out what some of them look like.
I also had to start working at the Writing Center a couple weeks ago, where I tutor other students who want help with their papers and stuff. So far I've had to help with an application for a Human Resources graduate program in Scotland, an annotated English 2010 essay with no annotations, and a grant proposal for a study on how to most effectively help plants grow in space. Somehow none of these appointments ended up being as awful as I thought they would be, but I still felt solidly unqualified in two-thirds of them. The girl with the grant proposal wanted to know if she should include anything else in her description of the proposed study, and I was just like, "How should I know? I don't what else there is. Here's a couple teensy spelling issues, though." (paraphrased)
My colleagues provide a prepackaged posse, meeting my needs for belonging and sociality that have gone unmet for so long, particularly during the pandemic but also for most of my life. We share common goals that we all work toward together, not competing, but collaborating. We share our laughter and our tears, and a success for one is a success for all. Some of us put together a spreadsheet to take turns writing the weekly overviews and online learning lessons, saving all of us a lot of work. Someone questioned whether Beth would be okay with it, but why wouldn't she be okay with our ingenuity and teamwork? We're getting paid for results, not effort. And she was okay with it because she's on our side and she's great. As we're all experiencing the same stress right now and we all know it, somehow it doesn't seem so bad. To me it feels like I'm about to be skinned alive and eaten by cannibals but I'm so stoned that I don't really care. I mean, I don't know what it feels like to be stoned, but that's just a guess. So it's beautiful and I'm happy.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.