Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Another Ending

One thing I swore to myself when I quit my day job was that I wouldn’t be one of those people who told her work friends, “Don’t worry—we’ll still see a lot of each other!” and then drop off the earth.

Years ago, I formed an organization of non-tenure-track faculty at Vanderbilt whose purpose was mutual support, which mostly involved getting together for a beer once a month and telling horror stories about the administration. We called ourselves “LWA” (Lecturers With Attitude) and our meetings were well attended, with anywhere from six to ten people at a time. Even after I quit teaching, I continued to call regular monthly meetings.

Numbers started falling off this academic year, and then I was unable to call a meeting for a few months due to writing deadlines and a move, but now that I’m settled in the new house I proposed a meeting last week. We’ve moved away from the university neighborhood and are on three wooded acres. Yes, it’s idyllic, but it feels awfully removed from people I used to spend a lot of time with, so I was happy when half a dozen said they’d come.

As it turns out, only one other person came, and she’s someone I see weekly anyway at a different social event. We had a great time and wound up staying for dinner, but on the drive home I came to the conclusion that LWA had run its course. Whether it’s because as founder my regular presence was necessary for it to flourish or because the turnover in lecturers meant that I didn’t know anyone new to invite as long-timers moved on, the group has clearly been on life support for a while.

So I pulled the plug. I was doing more listening and sympathizing than sharing of war-stories, and of course I can (and will) continue to see many of the attitudinous lecturers individually. Still, I’m a bit blue, I think more because the end of this group signals another end of that former life. The new life is great, don’t get me wrong—but change is always a bit unsettling.

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