Finding Glorious: Nearly 50 Pages


Last year I served on the Rank and Tenure Committee and I remember reading the extremely long files for folks going up for review as well as those that were strategic, well-written and short.  I am up for my pre-professor review this year and, while my review will eventually be well-written after many drafts and it may be strategic, it will definitely not be short.  
Oftentimes when I was on the committee, I would read an especially long file and recognize my own hand in encouraging that person to put it all in there.  It’s advice that I received myself years ago.  You see, if a Rank and Tenure Committee reviews your file and then denies you promotion based on what you included within your documents, you can easily appeal on the grounds that the fault that the Committee found was already answered in the documents.  There are no grounds for appeal if, let’s say, someone on the committee serves with you on a committee or should know about whatever you did and didn’t bring it up to the Committee as a whole.  If you didn’t put it in your file, it’s not supposed to exist to the Committee.  You can’t appeal on something that doesn’t exist for their perusal and review.  So, long before I ever served on the Rank and Tenure Committee I always encouraged candidates to put it ALL in there and include evidence in those appendices.  
When I went up for tenure, my narrative on teaching, scholarship, and service was around 40 pages or so single spaced, though the recommended guideline is 25 pages.  When I received my tenure letter, though, there were only two criticisms from the committee:  Separate evidence of teaching effectiveness (such as supervision of capstone projects and team teaching) from service activities (organizing workshops, guest class lectures, and facilitating Critical Community Groups) and that I exceeded the requirements for service.  
Here I am now, though, at nearly 50 pages for my pre-professor review and I can’t seem to shut up about what I do in teaching, scholarship, and service. I’m supposed to be verbose if I want to make the full professor rank, and I dread this.  Every time I was up for review in the past, I would find a cafe and just sit for 6-8 hours at a time for 3 to 7 days to get it done.  This time a few of my friends at Saint Mary’s this summer decided to work together, setting aside weekly time to write together, whether the pre-professor document or other articles and conference proposals.  The writing tasks of your average scholar trying to be greater than average.  All 4 of us have or were going to have young children soon and we are highly committed to service.  Among us was a former program director, former Rank and Tenure member, a rising program director, a department chair, a director of a signature program of the campus, a director of advising for all undergraduates, a senator on the Academic Senate, among our other responsibilities.  Look at the roles again and you will realize that at least one of us had several responsibilities alone.  The reality is that all of us did this summer.  I just haven’t listed them all.  
Anyway, each week up to 3 would gather – we could never get all 4 together since we had all of those commitments, some of them not stopping in the summer in addition to conferences, fellowships and family travel – to chat, write, and talk about what we needed to include.  I was definitely one who enjoyed the chatting and the strategizing far more than the actual writing, but still I had the goal of getting this thing done by July 10 since baby was due July 14.  When I was being especially ambitious, I would say my goal was to get it done by June 27, because that’s when I dreamt baby would come … but I always knew that was a dream.  I didn’t stop my term as director of my program until June 8 and soon after I started a fellowship so I was struggling to find the free time.  
Plus I dread talking about my accomplishments and work.  I’d rather just do the work and write about doing the work even.  I can reflect all day about doing this and that and writing and editing and what have you, but there’s something about singing my own praises in there attached to the high stakes nature of it all that makes me anxious, dredging up tons of self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness.  I’m worthy of full professorship, I have to tell myself over and over again.  
There’s no doubt that this is also high stakes.  At SMC, to be reviewed for full professor you have to do a pre-professor review so that the Rank and Tenure Committee can give you formative feedback.  You can’t go up for professor without it.  You are eligible for pre-professor review at rank Associate II-4 on the step ladder, but I don’t think you are eligible for full professor until Rank Associate II-6 on the ladder, potentially giving me two years to receive the feedback and make magic happen or just keep the ship steady.  And promotion comes with additional esteem, engagement in a different way in service, a financial boost, and some additional sway.  There’s a liberation and an ability to even more freely speak on and off campus.  My goal has been to gain professor as rank for myself and also to be able to even more mentor and support junior faculty.  My other goal has been to use a promotion to agitation even more for social justice oriented transformation.  
So, to help the Rank and Tenure Committee give me the feedback I need, I’m again putting everything in there.  While I have been working on this draft for weeks before baby came, I’ve taken the last 8 weeks since he was born off from this practice.  Writing a Form A just takes such sustained laser focus that I wasn’t able to get anything significant done while doing laundry, feeding and burping baby, or trying to figure out what his crying meant.  I keep telling him to use his words, but he’s not very responsive to that and he’s very insistent that his demands need immediate responses.  He’s happiest when I’m watching his cues for sleep, diaper changes, and hunger … but that means I’m certainly not watching or doing anything else for a sustained period of time.  
Today, I had the time for focus, and it was SO good.  
I started the day by going to ARISE with the intention of observing the creative writing class that I’ll be teaching in next week and writing alongside the students.  I wanted to see the teacher in her element and learn a little bit about the students.  I wanted some time to enter into their writing community.  I arrived at the school an hour early and found myself waiting outside the main office space with the students.  What was going on?  There was a parent meeting.  Once the students were let in for advisories instead of regular classes, I learned that the teacher I would be observing wasn’t there, classes would go back to their regular schedule the following day, etc.  Changes that I had to just deal with.  Best intentions and all that.  I happened to see the teacher as I returned to BART who was mortified that she had forgotten to tell me about the change in schedule.  I’m pretty low key so assured her I could adjust.  
Considering that I had already been extremely unsettled and teary with the prospect of leaving my son for the first full day (other than a board meeting weeks ago and that was a shorter day), I thought that perhaps I should go home or go the MoAD as planned but earlier and leave earlier.  On the train, I told my husband my thoughts and then told him that I had decided to use the remaining day we had already planned for at the MoAD.  I would take on the pre-professor review, and I did just that.  
Arriving around 10:30/11, I then proceeded to work on the review until 5pm, with only one bathroom break and two short conversations (one on a writing activity that would be used that night and one on being an artist with young children).  Both conversations were necessary and rather than distractions, they were centering.  They helped reenergize me in my writing and teaching practice and also helped to remind me of the child that was now grounding my professional goals.  
By the end of my work, I read a chapter of The Body is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor (all about learning that radical self-love for body and mind and spirit).  I also had one thoroughly asleep leg and nearly 50 pages of contributions to the pre-professor review, which I have sent off to my editor mother/partner academic.  I completed updating my press kit and completed my application to the American Academy in Berlin as a writer of fiction.  I also started uploading letters for my Rank and Tenure file and requesting other letters.  
Getting things done.  Putting it all in there.  Trying to find glorious and show myself glorious to others. 


I continue to track my work at the MoAD and add a few extra tasks in there.  

Tasks in progress
  • Apply for my pre-professor review at my university.   This is due to my readers by September 15 and we are supposed to give feedback by September 29.  (in progress.  Tomorrow I start working on assembling the appendices, which are terribly tedious)
  • Apply for some online teaching positions.
  • Start using KanbanFlow, to which I was just introduced
  • Secure my housing for a gig at College of the Redwoods in October.
  • Continue reading for my Intro to Personal Essay Class
  • Work on a new workshop on summoning joy and play to generate new work
  • Write new work for a new collection of poetry I want to submit to Salmon Poetry.  
  • Work on an essay project I want to submit to Nomadic Press.
  • Work on an anthology project I want to submit to Art Público Press and University of Arizona Press.  Let’s be ambitious!
  • Write an essay for VIDA on assigning value to my labor
  • Apply to more residencies and writing opportunities 
  • Send out press kit to universities and colleges for Fall 2019

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