Does this mean I get a new car?

I have entertained at least a half dozen ways to write this post. Here is where I’m at today, now that I’ve sat down to actually write it.

The Scenario

  • I’ve been Manager of the Institutional Repository(IR)1 in practice since 2012, officially 2014. It was part of our Digital Production Services department. In early 2018, I was asked to re-envision my staff position as a faculty librarian position.
  • On a Thursday in September 2018 I got an email while I was at an ETD2 conference that on the following Monday my position would report up through a newly created department, Digital Partnerships and Strategies.
  • In November, the libraries posted a Scholarly Repository Librarian position, which built on my staff position duties, and was a faculty position. I applied for it.
  • Then the interview process, including a phone interview in December 2018, and an all-day on-site interview in mid-January.
  • On a Friday in February, I met with the Assistant Program Director of Library Human Resources and the chair of the search committee for the Librarian position. I had been deemed not the best candidate for the position, and was told that on the following Monday, my position would go back to be under my former supervisor in the (newly renamed) Digital Support Services, as a Metadata3 Associate.
  • The new position is still being defined, but it is located at the Interim Library Facility (ILF), about 10 miles from campus, and is mostly tech focused.

Frustrations

My path to being the IR Manager was winding, and mostly consisted of my gaining quasi-related duties as jobs were lost to attrition. But I took those lemons, and made some pretty damn good lemonade. I sought out professional development not only in the training sense, but also in the scholarly sphere. I made a name for myself on a national stage for my work with our digitization project of print dissertations, and with institutional repositories. For the first time in my life, I was building a career.

I went in to the interview process knowing there was a chance I’d not be the best candidate for the position. I accept the decision that I was not the best fit. However, due to how I interpreted other indications, I believed that if I did not get the Scholarly Repository Librarian position, that I would continue to be the IR Manager. Or at the very least, work with the IR in some capacity, even if it was managing it until the new librarian started, and I could hand off/ train them.

That was, apparently, not the case.

Instead, I was told that my new position didn’t work with the IR at all. That my position was being re-written to fill a need in a department, though it was drafted with my skill-set in mind. But not my preferences. Over the next week I updated the chair over the librarian position on where I was on all the projects, contacted partners from around campus with the chair’s information as point of contact until the librarian began, and withdrew myself from my IR related obligations such as a presentation I’d submitted for an IR conference in April, and stepping off the board of that ETD conference, which I’d served on for several years.

It felt like someone had taken my lemonade stand, and left me with a bushel of Brussels sprouts, instead.

 


 

Realizations

In talking with a counselor, I came to realize that I not only had to grieve the loss of the career path I believed I was on, but also for the job I had. I wasn’t fired, but I was taken from that job, placed in a radically different position, and I had no control over where I was going, or the broad strokes that define my position. I think that is the hardest part – I didn’t have a say in my next step.

So, I started my 42nd year on a good note, happy with myself, and the path I was on, but apparently the universe decided I needed to really examine what I was doing, and who I was, and handed me a mid-life crisis with a bow.

Now, I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure this means I need to get a new car?

Footnotes

  1. Digital collection of research and scholarly output from the UF academic community, and related services.
  2. Electronic Theses and Dissertations, the final submission of graduate students, usually papers.
  3. Literally, data about data; in practical terms, it is the description of items in our collections – the catalog record, but (in this case) for digital materials.

Lies Depression Tells Me – 8 failure

Dark cloud with words like inability, deficiency, inadequacy, rejection
Lies that I am unworthy, a failure, cloud my mind.

“You’ve put off the course work for the online workshop you were so eager for. You won’t catch up now, so don’t bother. Let’s just check that “fail” box.”

“You misunderstood directions, and didn’t communicate, because you didn’t realize you misunderstood. You are a failure. A huge disappointing failure.”

“You fell out of contact with friends. Guess what. You failed. Again.”

“Oh, you’re feeling bad – that must mean that you aren’t eating right / getting enough sleep/ getting enough socialization / getting enough alone time to reflect/ getting enough sunlight. You = FAIL.”

“You can’t successfully block out a voice that you know is lying to you, you know is cruel and undermines you? I think you know what you are.”

Word cloud with positive messaging, mistakes are not failures
Trying to take those lies, and turn them upside down.

42 and Mostly Harmless

Photograph of book titles "The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide: six stories by Douglas Adams"
An awesome trilogy by Douglas Adams.

My sophomore year of college I had anticipated having a roommate I knew, a friend coming in as a freshman. Only later did I find out that another sophomore had signed up for the empty spot in my room, since she didn’t want to get saddled with a frosh roommate. Going in, all I had was her name. I got there first, unpacked, and set out to buy books or find my classes or whatever. When we finally met, she said she knew it was going to be alright because of the Douglas Adams The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide omnibus on the shelf above my desk. I guess you can say, she decided to not panic.

So, today is my birthday, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m turning 42. Douglas Adams has provided this as the answer to the ultimate question through book one, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

“O Deep Thought computer,” he said, “the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us…” he paused, “the Answer!”

“The Answer?” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to what?”

“Life!” urged Fook.

“The Universe!” said Lunkwill.”

“Everything!” they said in chorus.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 25

Deep Thought took its task seriously, and settled in to mull it over for seven and a half million years. On the Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day: The Day of the Answer, seventy-five thousand generations later, the two men who were selected at birth, trained to be the recipients of the answer, went to see Deep Thought.

“You’re really not going to like it,” observed Deep Thought.

“Tell us!”

“All right,” said Deep Thought. “The Answer to the Great Question…”

“Yes…!”

“Of Life, the Universe and Everything…” said Deep Thought.

“Yes…!”

“Is…” said Deep Thought, and paused.

“Yes…!”

“Is…”

“Yes…!!!…”

“Forty-two,” said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm.

The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy by Douglas Adams, chapter 27
Maintenance cover with the number 42 spray painted on, surrounded by leaves
This year my age is the answer the the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything.

Unfortunately the answer was pretty useless without the question. Deep Thought then set out to build a more advanced computer, with organic life as part of its system, to calculate the Ultimate Question. And it was called Earth.

Photo of Earth from space, with part of the planet in daylight, and part in nighttime
The computer created to discover the question to which 42 is the answer.

The problem is, what is the question?

So, for my birthday this year, I decided to have fun with the fact that my age is the Answer, and I will answer the first 42 questions I receive either as a comment to this post, via facebook, or via twitter (@weylyn42). I may even answer them truthfully.

Gallery of our travels – Turkey

Glass blue evil-eye icon, by door with rack of keys below
Our main entrance is under a nazar – a talisman that wards against the evil eye.

This piece of art is small and simple. The nazar is a talisman that is supposed to ward one from the evil eye curse, the recipient of which suffers misfortune or injury. It was a common sight on our 2010 trip to Turkey.

Toby had just completed a research trip to Moscow for his dissertation, and I flew over and met him at the hotel he’d booked. Another souvenir from this trip is the red and gold rug in our dining room.

I’m not actually sure where we purchased it – in Istanbul, or in the Cappadocia region where we saw the fairy chimneys and took a hot air balloon ride, but this little splash of color brings back memories of it all. From staying in a hotel carved in a mountain, to the Hagia Sophia, from the Blue Mosque to the Grand Bazaar.

A bare-branched tree with dozens of blue nazar, whole and broken alike
If nothing else, this one tree is not suffering the evil eye.

It was a great trip, and one that we unfortunately cannot repeat any time soon, the state of the world being what it is. Hopefully the nazar we hung by our door will help protect our home, at least a little bit.

Lies Depression Tells Me 7 – Impossibilities

So, my depression has found new ways to be insidious. Since my last medication adjustment in December, I’ve found I feel happier, laugh more, and have fewer “down” days. I also have more desire to do things.

This can be as simple as taking a shower or getting food, or it can be larger, like replying to emails or finishing a paper. I have the tools I need for all of these, I usually even have a plan.

But then, so does my depression. I set my mind to do something, and then…I don’t. I know what I want or need to do, I have my first step, and then…

Black and white photograph of the Matterhorn, Switzerland.
The simplest things – like getting up to go to the bathroom – become impossible because of my depression.

…my mind is a war with itself. I want to do the thing, I really do, but my depression tells me that it is impossible to do the thing, and my body follows the cue from the depression. And the thing, no matter how simple, how necessary, is impossible.

The really sneaky part is that it doesn’t feel like depression. I’m usually still in a good mood, but I simply can’t do the things I want. And then I start in on myself for being lazy, for being immature, for being irresponsible. And I start to feel worse about myself.

And that is how the depression wins the round. Transforming me from a good-mood with a can-do attitude, to berating myself for NOT doing.

And it sucks. The really awful part is that, sometimes, even though I recognize what is happening, even though I know the task is not impossible, I can’t seem to get around the wall that depression has locked me behind. I’m stuck, staring at the stones, feeling hopeless.

photo of a wall made with stones of various shapes and natural colors
When I just want to take one step forward, and depression is like “nope.”

I’m trying to make it easier for myself, to break the tasks I’m handling into even smaller chunks, too small to be impossible, but that only goes so far. I’m also trying to start tasks when I think of them, and not give my mind a chance to become my enemy. And, as always, acknowledging that my mind is lying to me is the first step.