Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

Several months ago, I wrote about the traumatic process by which those of us in academe advance in our careers, promotion and tenure, otherwise known as Hell on Earth. It involves years of student activity sponsorship, publication, presentations at conferences, community service, and a host of other things that tend to keep you hoppin'.

This morning, I arrived in the parking lot at the same time as the provost's assistant, who called out to me that she needed me to come to her office to sign my new contract...causing me to ask why I had a new contract. (It was really early and I hadn't had any coffee yet.) She laughed and said, "Oh, the letters only went out yesterday, but you got your promotion!" I never have to do another promotion folder AGAIN!

When I was an undergraduate, I committed an egregious academic foul from which my father refused to permit me to recover, although I received two masters' degrees afterward. Whenever he was angry with me, he'd bring it up, along with his disappointment in's a lot more storied than this, but this is as far as I'm willing to go in telling it at the two things finally lifted me past that killshot: the day that I received tenure (before I turned 35), and the day that I paid off the student loans for graduate school for which my father, still punishing me for my earlier failure, refused to co-sign.

Today, two days shy of turning forty-one, I have achieved a full professorship. I have finally earned my spurs, and for this I am eternally grateful...and relieved.

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