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Thursday, February 9, 2012

what if..... fails?

....I will most definitely blame Physics.
This is kind of funny to me: my blaming, my vilification of physics (I am an engineer, trained and participating in the very masculine system!). Of course, this is my immaturity, this blaming. I am reading a book (very slowly because sustain takes up all my time), but the author said that issues or problems are always overdetermined. So SUSTAIN feels like it is a train wreck for a multitude of reasons, but I want to blame big or bad Physics. Although I will explain my perception of Physics, I would like to list a couple of the other things I think are contributing to the problems. (oh, and there are some bright points, but in my state these seem like candles in a snow storm - refer to Linda's entry about the students).
Physics, all full of forces and gravity and friction, is pushing everything out. In addition, the students (and the faculty) feel panicked about what isn't being learned. this creates more assignments, more office hours, more peer to peer meetings in the library. I am worried that the camaraderie the students feel is from going through this terrible process together. (It just occurred to me that there are 8 or 10 students who are not in physics, I will meet with them in studio today, I wonder what their opinion is?). To me this is really not about SUSTAIN or the particular faculty teaching physics, but it is our culture, our prioritization of STEM, or all things masculine. There is a danger of generalizing this problem too much and seeing it as impossible to solve, but we are really trying to ask if we are to blame, physics is to blame, or are we just a reflection of something bigger than ourselves?
Sometimes this helps, and other times it feel so sad.
So back to over determined, The state budget is creating scarcity and fear in the entire university, we are protective and some are jockeying for position. There isn't room for innovation, although everyone throws the word around. this seems to me a classic double-bind, which is always emotionally painful.
Each of us is teaching other courses, doing other things, I not only have the 10 community projects in SUSTAIN, but I have 11 others in my senior IE class with local companies. I am also the graduate coordinator advising 70 or so grad students, about 20 master's projects. (I am sorry, but I want you to say "wow," I will say "wow" back when you tell me all you are doing, if you like.) I don't have a family in my home, but I feel very neglectful of my dog and garden. Unlike Linda, although I had dreams of attending history, I have not even attempted to learn all the other courses; that seems impossible to me.
In the spirit of full disclosure: I am also working to dissolve my 28 year marriage, and separate myself from another relationship, so on a person level this is a very difficult time.
Maybe I shouldn't have accepted the challenge of SUSTAIN, what will happen if it fails? Could I just let it all go? I am crying.
Human emotion is funny, so variable, so prone to hyperbole.....I might feel differently tomorrow.


  1. Liz, you're always so authentic. Thank you.

  2. Oh my gosh, Liz... I am just seeing this now. Wow for sure.

    I guess something to think about is - what is failure? Is there a way to think about your experience not as generating success or failure, but meeting (or not) your hopes and aspirations in a multitude of different ways?

    And did you feel differently tomorrow, as it were?