Choosing the party

March 31, 2011 § 18 Comments

Yesterday, I was sad and disappointed. I cried. A lot. I felt unvalidated by my department. Like a total loser. As though through the absence of the fellowship, they were not only giving me the middle finger but also a nice boot to the rear while sneering, “This money is only for serious scholars. You suck, and there’s no way you meet our basic qualifications to fund you.” It took several hours, a couple of long phone calls, some incredible comments from my blogosphere pals (thank you, all!!), lots of hugs, and some pretty addictive Chinese food to finally help me overcome the emotional breakdown.

About halfway through my breakdown, in the midst of one of Robert’s awesome hugs, I remembered the promise I had made myself to surprise and thank my students…when I got the fellowship. Weeks ago, when I had to sacrifice time spent on them (grading, coming up with kick-ass lesson plans) to work on chapters for the fellowship application, I decided that I would thank them with treats. I would bring in cookies and maybe a movie, if I could find one. We would have a celebratory party because together we did it! When it struck me that I would not be able to keep my promise to myself (and secretly to my students), I cried more. I really wanted to have a party with them. I really wanted to thank them for their patience with me this semester.

And that’s when I realized:

I could still choose the party!

“You know what?” I sniffled, reluctantly pulling away from Robert’s hug. “I really don’t have it in me to lesson plan right now. I want to rent Persepolis for class tomorrow, watch the first half, and bring cookies to my students.”

Regardless the outcome, my students were still patient with me and have been rooting for me since I told them I applied for the fellowship. Why shouldn’t they get a little recognition?

So, Robert and I got ourselves some dinner, we went to the store to rent Persepolis (we’re reading volume 1–her childhood story–in class right now), and then we bought two packages of fresh-baked cookies (one was sugar, the other chocolate chip). When I walked into my classroom at 8 a.m., my students practically lifted out of their seats, craning their necks in order to see if I did indeed have a DVD in my hand and…cookies??

I took roll. I put the DVD in the computer and the cookies on the table.

“Well, yesterday I got some bad news.” My students seemed to collectively hold their breath. “Do you remember the funding that I applied for this summer in order to finish my dissertation? Remember how I had to write those chapters instead of grade your papers?” They nodded. “Well, I didn’t get the fellowship.”

All together, in chorus, I heard sighing and whispers of “oh no….”

“It’s okay,” I said cheerily. “I had decided weeks ago that I would thank you guys by bringing in cookies and watching a movie if I got the fellowship. But you know what? We’re going to have the party anyway! Screw ’em! I’m still very grateful that you guys have been patient with me and didn’t give me a hard time about getting your grades to you late. You’ve been awesome, and I want to recognize that. So, even if they don’t think we should be happy, screw ’em! I have a great class. Let’s relax today!”

They dove into the cookies (I borrowed a joke from one of Cosby’s early routines about how cookies [his joke was about chocolate cake] were basically like breakfast…eggs, milk, bread…sugar…), I gave them a quick (and really easy) quiz, and then we settled down to watch Persepolis.

Look, here’s the thing.

Does it suck when you work your ass off for no recognition? Of course.
Does it hurt like hell when you feel so utterly rejected? Yup.
Does it cut to the quick to realize you have to go with Plan B? Yes, indeed.

But does it prevent you from still choosing the party regardless? Nope.

And, with that, this is the last post you’ll get about the fellowship. It’s over. I’m done with it. The committee made their decision; there’s nothing I can do about it. I’m kicking the dust off my heels and walking on.

Anyone wanna join me in the party?

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§ 18 Responses to Choosing the party

  • AMo says:

    Me me me! 🙂

  • Dana says:

    Hi there! I came over to your blog from Tori Nelson’s blogroll. Just want to let you know that I applaud your decision to choose that party anyway! Academia is tough, especially when so much of YOUR SOUL is invested in it, but something good will be waiting for you around the corner– I just know it.

    Good luck with everything. I’ll be following your adventures as a new subscriber! Cheers.

    • Mrs. H. says:

      Well, hey there! And welcome to my blog. 🙂 Thanks so much for your sweet words–academia really can be soul-sucking, can’t it? I read a little bit of your about page and saw that you’ve got your MA as well–you and I have shared interests. I’m doing my dissertation on early modern English cross-dressing (mostly on stage). Thanks again for your encouraging words. I’m so glad you’ve decided to stick around! 🙂

      I’ll check out the rest of your blog today!

  • Caroline says:

    Totally glad you chose the party 🙂 You are going to rock this dissertation out of the water!!

  • jacquelincangro says:

    Hi, I just recently found your blog. I love your conscious decision to kick butt and move on. It’s hard to do when you don’t get the thing you’ve worked hard for /wanted / deserved. I know – I’m still waiting on my agent to call with news about my novel’s foray into the hands of editors. It’s like radio silence out there. Halloo?
    Good for you for fighting the good fight and coming out the other side.

  • I’m in! What shall I bring? Something sweet? Something yummy?

    We love you, Amanda!

    Kathy

  • Lisa says:

    I’m breaking my self-imposed day of blogging silence to join your party. And I am bringing the champagne and celebrating you!

  • sportsjim81 says:

    Sometimes a party is simply mandatory. As if the rest of your day cannot take place unless a party occurs. Sounds like this was one of those times, and you were able to go through with the party and move forward. Well done!

  • amblerangel says:

    Well, you just made a memory for a class full of students- one that a few will actually act upon in the future because how many of us remember our good teachers! I remember so many- and can name lessons in life each one taught me. You just taught a room full of people how to gracefully accept a major disappointment, pick up, move on, and still be mindful of others. Which I’m sure they appreciated happily munching away. You are much more than a career. And because of how you are handling this, I know you will be fine. Party on!

  • limr says:

    Count me in!

    When I was in grad school, a fellow student described our department as an abusive husband who kept handing out beatings, but we kept coming back for more thinking that we were the ones who would change things. They can suck the life right out of you until you stop giving them the power to make you small. I’ve certainly taken my beatings from academia and they hurt, they really do. But slinking hurts even more, so we need to remind ourselves to stand tall.

    So good for you for standing tall and getting the power back! And with such an awesome movie! (I’m doing Persepolis – both the book and the movie – with my class starting the week after next).

  • How awesome. I’m so glad you went ahead with the party anyway! You deserve a party after all that work!

  • phdprocrastination says:

    Yowzer, I have felt those feelings. Oh yes. I’m actually waiting on fellowship results right now (eeep!)
    Your class sounds awesome! Way to keep your spirits up!

  • MC says:

    I choose the party!

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