What’s up with you, Internets?

LDB: New and improved and ready for prime time! Earlier in the year, around the time that I figured out that WordPress could handle private vs public posts, I determined that the time had come to clean this place up. I’ve been blogging for almost five years, so it took a long time, but I think I’m pretty much done. A long time ago, I wondered aloud about what privacy online meant. Several years later, I study these things. Five years ago, I had a crappy Geocities site and a job that I hated that I blogged about. Now I have my own domain and a job I love that I blog about. Things are very different now, and this site hopefully reflects it.

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Today I was reminded of why I love my job.

I spent most of the day in meetings, making decisions (or decisions about decisions) about the future of our existing tools, and about what happens next as we go from pilot to production with our new system. The next few months are going to be very busy and very stressful. I’m really concerned that we’re not going to be ready – the technology may be, but I don’t think the faculty and students will be. I was looking forward to a relaxed break and going to ALISE in January, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be here working instead. I got home from work exhausted and stressed out, and ended up crying for a solid twenty minutes.

So why am I reminded that I love my job? Because I’m not worried that I’ll be crazy busy or stressed out over the holidays or will have to work long hours – I’m worried that these changes will keep me from doing my job effectively – that is, helping people teach and learn.

After years of crappy jobs, I have a rewarding job that I love. How great is that?

SB&E B&E

I got a new purple cast today. That, along with my burrito lunch with SB and the chai that I spent too much on have really been the only good things about this day.

Oh, except for when I conspired with two faculty members to break into a locked display case to steal a back issue of Library Trends. If this ends up on the police blotter tomorrow, I swear that I left before anything went down. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

Starbucks

So last night I was talking to a few former barista coworker friends, and the subject of Starbucks came up – I believe in the context of discussing the neglectful management of our former place of employment. If you know me even moderately well, you know that I’ve maintained a long-standing ban on Starbucks. I worked at an independent coffeeshop for two years, and have many friends who work and/or manage independents. With Starbucks planning to open 250 more Chicagoland locations (to add to the 330 existing ones), you can understand my vehemence. By the numbers, independent coffee shops have lost 11% of the market in the last four years. For those of us who rely on our indie for income, variety, and good coffee, that’s alarming.

One of the most touted things about Starbucks (notably more touted than the quality of their drinks) is their treatment of employees, who are eligible for health insurance, stock options, and a 401K – as well as advancement possibilities simply not available in your average mom-and-pop shop. A Starbucks employee union exists, though it seems that it has a contentious relationship with Starbucks itself. Starbucks has also, in the last few years, agreed to sell Fair Trade coffees, though it sounds like that decision only happened under some protest.

Last night, my coffeestore friends slightly revised our ban. We’re OK with people working for Starbucks – like our former manager, who routinely works 40+ hour weeks for no vacation, no benefits, and no chance of ever having any real authority due to the ongoing mismanagement by the owners – we’re just not OK with people buying coffee there.

a happy crazy person

Oh man, I wish nothing was happening. The last couple of weeks have been INCREDIBLY busy, so I’ll just give you the highlights:

Work: rolled out Moodle for the LEEP kids on or around 9 June after a long week of really intense work. Two training workshops (led by me), a number of forum discussions, and a couple of live sessions later, things seem to be going smoothly, and we’re “cautiously optimistic” for fall.

Work: turned in my notice at Aroma – my last normally scheduled week will be the week of 31 July. Feels like the end of an era. I said I’m fine with being on-call, but with my fall schedule (whatever it will be – 40/2 or 20/4), I just can’t do it anymore. Oh, and we changed the menu, which has made things needlessly complicated.

House: keys have been delivered, and I’m headed to Rockford this weekend to meet with a realtor, do a ton of yardwork, and generally figure out what needs to be done to the house to get it on the market. The ex has been cooperative, which I really appreciate. This is hard, but it could be a lot harder.

Adventures: spent last weekend in Chicago at Intonation and visiting Amanda. Good times all around, even though the festival was so-so, and it rained part of the weekend. Bloc Party was awesome, so was Jose Gonzalez, and I enjoyed seeing/hearing a bunch of new bands, including a lot of fun hiphop. Shane and I did some shopping downtown and at IKEA, both of which were fun. I got a gorgeous dress for Sarah’s wedding on consignment, and we looked at things for an imaginary shared apartment (code name: Basil Land). Pictures here.

Adventures: spent the weekend before in central Tennessee at Bonnaroo, which is/was an experience that can’t be summarized in a short paragraph. More on this later, but in brief, it was four days of dirt and sun and music and food and friends. I was relaxed and happy and very dirty, and coming back to the “real world” was difficult. I saw Andrew Bird, Radiohead, Beck, Rusted Root, The Magic Numbers, Buddy Guy, Cat Power, Matisyahu, and a bunch of people I’ve already forgotten. Pictures here.

General: things are good – exhausting, but good. I’m running around like a crazy person, but a happy crazy person, and that makes a world of difference.

university math

so, i have a 12 month appointment with the graduate school. my contract is for 1206 hours, or 26 hours per week (approx). right now my math looks something like this:

monday 7 hours
tuesday 9 hours
wednesday 8 hours
thursday 2 hours
friday off
total: 26 hours

as i may have mentioned before, my schedule is really flexible. we’re all scheduled to run classes in the afternoon/evening – i run five two-hour classes per week – but other than that, our office hours are flexible. if i have homework to finish or am under the weather, i can come in late or take the day off and just make up the hours later in the week. for this reason we almost never take sick time, and vacation time is used for things that require being out of the office for a week or more at a time.

which brings me to my second point. because i have a 12 month appointment, i get 128.6 hours of vacation time and 70.2 hours of sick time. don’t ask me where the extra .2 hours goes. i really don’t know. now, the sick time is non-compensible [SIC], but it is time that can be taken off regardless.

so here’s my current math:

1 day taken off before Thanksgiving 6 hours
2 days (excluding holidays) taken off over winter break 10 hours
16 days (three working weeks) taken off in May 83 hours
current total vacation time taken: 99 hours
vacation time remaining: 29.6 hours
current total sick time taken: 0 hours
sick time remaining: 70.2 hours

from what i understand, staff can bank either sick or vacation time (or maybe both), but for GAs, that time has to be used by august 15 or it is lost. i may be developing the plague sometime between now and august 15, just so you know. in the words of my boss, “i can’t sneeze at the benefits of working at the big u.”

good things

good things from the last few days:

  • brunch at allerton with good friends and walking in the gardens on a sunny day
  • working with hot doctors and seeing my uterus bump up against my belly during an exam
  • coffee ice cream with a cute boy in the sunshine before class
  • giving a successful (if rambling) two hour talk without being overly nervous
  • realizing i really know this stuff inside and out
  • renting a locker at the gym that is 2.75 miles away from my apartment by bike, meaning that every workout will also include 5.5 miles on the bike to and from
  • girl talk with my best friend
  • winning (1) pink plaid hightop chucks ($10 on ebay) and (2) tickets to see ladytron (for freeeee!)
  • the weekend is almost here!

Here is a thing I’m exceedingly tired of:

For the last two years, I have worked more-or-less part time at a local coffeeshop. More-or-less part time means my hours have ranged between 10-30 per week, with the high being in the fall of 2004 when I was working a full time job and trying to get over a bad breakup, and the low being in the fall of 2005 when I was just too busy with school and a 2/3rds time appointment to work any more than one 10 hour shift per week. I’ve had (at least) two jobs since I started there two years ago, and between school, work, and my part time job have averaged between 60-70 working/class hours per week plus homework.

In short, I work my ass off.

My part time job has never been my first priority – I’ve always had either a full time job or school to worry about. That said, I have been absolutely as available as I could possibly be to them. I worked 30 hours per week when I was working full time when we were short staffed and they wouldn’t hire anyone. I continued working three shifts per week once I started school even though that meant I frequently didn’t have a day off between jobs for weeks at a time. I work this hard because I need the money, and I work this hard because I love my jobs.

That said, I really think the time has come to quit my part time job. I haven’t had a raise since December 2004, and that was when minimum wage went up. I know for a fact that an employee that I trained and who has been the subject of repeated and vocal complaints by coworkers to management is making more than I do. I have repeatedly offered my help for additional tasks that are well within my realm of experience and availability, and have been repeatedly brushed off by management, only for those responsibilities to go to people who complain about the extra hours and extra responsibilities. And now a management position has gone to an employee who has been at the store for six months, and who works perhaps one more shift per week than I do.

It’s not that I want a management job – I don’t. I couldn’t take it even if I wanted to. It’s that I’ve been systematically passed over for any increases in responsibility, ignored when I make suggestions, and brushed off when I’ve tried to help out. I’m so pissed off that I don’t even know what to say – and I feel like my hands are tied because the owner’s father just passed away, and I don’t want to take out my frustration on him right now, even though that’s really where it should be directed.

Oh Internet, what should I do? Is it finally time to quit a job that I love?

!!!

In my email just now:

    Presenters:
    The proposal that you submitted at http://higheredblogcon.editme.com/ProposalsTeachingPublic has been accepted. We have a nice sampling of approaches.

    The teaching track will run first on April 3-7, 2006.
    Please submit your presentations by March 15 so that there will be time to get you feedback and make modifications.

!!!

Headed to a birthday brunch, a wedding, and then to Rockford for the weekend to celebrate my baby brother’s tenth birthday. It’s been a really nice week filled with moments that feel more like vacation than every day life. I had a really productive meeting this morning, and am feeling good about things in general, even though I have a lot of work to do.

Oh yeah, and I relocated. But then if you’re here, you already knew that.

upon hearing about my insane schedule, my friend told me “as long as you’re happy, that works”. i wasn’t sure what to say. am i happy? i dunno. this is a very good, very challenging life – i can’t imagine being anywhere else or doing anything else right now. i am taking a difficult load of classes (even after dropping one this week), but it’s good because i feel like i’m in way over my head and want with everything in me to understand the things i’m reading about. i am constantly surrounded by interesting, funny, intelligent, awesomely weird and wonderful people – coworkers, friends, family. i spend every spare moment reading, which is all i ever wanted for my life. i struggle to make it through the long days – and then i have moments of clarity and peace with the wind in my hair riding my bike home in the dark, or of perfect synchronicity in the pool when the rhythm of my breath determines the rhythm of my laps, or of abandon on the dance floor, being spun around and around by my friend while i just laugh and laugh.

but am i happy? i dunno. i’m tired, mostly, and in the back of my mind is the siren call of the camino, of packing up and leaving this place in a year and setting off for places unknown. while doing research for the new course management system i’m going to be running, i got distracted by looking at developmental partner schools in spain, thinking that the things i’m doing now might open those doors for me in a year or two. i think, though, that i’ve given up on speculating where life is going to take me – and i’m just trying to be in it as much as i can. and that – that is good.