Thank you, everyone, for your lovely support on my last post. I feel myself growing TALLer with every day; although, I worry that maybe my head is the only thing expanding!
My event on Monday went better than expected, but just as well as I had hoped. One of the professors from the self-proclaimed main campus actually came to ours to give a talk on a sainted president and his relationship to African Americans. It was surprisingly good. I had feared that it would be that the sainted president just lurved the black folks from the womb, which seems the party line, but he gave a much more nuanced discussion showing a development of the saint's ideas and behavior.*
Putting together this event was surprisingly fun. I requested the perfect room, right next to an art exhibit on the sainted president; designed, printed, and distributed fliers; got the event publicized on the school's main webpage and on these t.v. screens around campus that display announcements; spammed everyone's e-mail once a week (and the culture of "reply all" gave me some cool responses that I can put in my portfolio!); announced it in all of the regular school places; and announced it in community newspapers. I learned quite a bit about publicity venues and which media are most effective.
I also learned that "extra credit certificates will be available for students" is a BIG draw. Heck, I even dropped my own "NO EXTRA CREDIT!" policy for the event. Most of the students in the audience were there for the extra credit. Still, they came for the extra credit, they stayed for the education!
Walking toward the event, I had visions of the place being packed, with my chair, and the dean, and the the president of the university -- heck! maybe even the president of the United States -- in attendance. "Calm down, Clio," I told myself. "If five people show up, that will be o.k. You got it this far." This is, after all, a commuter campus with no students living closer than at least a train stop away. When I got to the room -- albeit 15 minutes early -- it was empty except for my speaker and the ITV guy.
The ITV guy!!!!!
I nearly hugged him. I had contacted them, and heard that they might be able to film but weren't sure about the schedule. When I followed up, I got no reply. They are incredibly busy, so I took no offense. A DVD and podcast would be nice icing on the cake, but not necessary to the overall production. Again, I reminded myself, this is the first event and part of a learning process of producing successful events. To find ITV there? Seriously, I nearly hugged the guy.
Then, the students started to filter in. Turned out the filter was pretty darn porous. Ten minutes into the talk they had to sit in the aisles because all of the seats were taken. My chair showed, one of the lead librarians showed, several faculty from several different disciplines showed, directors of different programs showed, my students showed, other students showed, even a student reporting from the student paper showed. When the speaker finished speaking, people wanted to talk and talk and talk with him about the sainted president and African Americans. I had the room booked for two hours and we used every minute of it! I wanted to hug each and every person who attended.
This is all to say that the event proved a resounding success! Setting them up turned out to be much more fun and satisfying than I anticipated; but having one turn out so well proved the big payoff. Plus, now I know how to do such things and feel empowered by that knowledge. I can make shit happen!
Now we shall see how this next event, this coming Wednesday, goes. I have already been warned that ITV may not be able to attend; and I have to warn the other speakers that I can't promise that ITV has room in their schedules, so if a camera isn't at their event, it's nothing personal. The director of ITV said that he can set me up with a lesson so that I can just check out the equipment and tape it myself. My inner tech geek and former film major self says, "AWE! SOME!"**
The speaker this coming week addresses an issue that affects a huge major in our college, and I have her set up to give her talk in that major's building. See? It's such a big major that they have their own, shiny new building. Since it also involves women, and March is Women's History Month, Women's Studies is a co-sponsor; and I'm advertising it as in celebration of Women's History Month, just as I advertised this last one as in celebration of Black History Month.
Yesterday, I saw the person who will give the talk on the following week (I really didn't plan for one each week, it just turned out that way). He's getting excited about his own event, which has to do with peace. We have a massive faculty contingent who are all about peace and protest and heavily into the current anti-war movement and setting up a curriculum that includes all of the above. So, I'm able to bring that into the advertising. I could do more if he were going to speak on our campus (and maybe I can talk him into it for next semester), but he preferred another campus, which works for my portfolio in regard to service to the college. More of the peace faculty are over there, too, so the turnout may be better there than here.
In any case, for the rest of the semester, between this, my sudden involvement in another program's film series, Women's History Month, Arab American Heritage Month***, and some of the peace folk, I swear that I'm planning at least one event each week from now until the end of the semester. It's lots of work, but I enjoy the hell out of it. It satisfies my need to make shit happen to a degree that is difficult to come by at this level in other parts of my life.
Moreover, I'm starting to feel like I care about something. I can't precisely put my finger on what. Perhaps "care" isn't quite the right word. Let me put it this way: a former friend contacted me once more recommending that I apply for a job elsewhere. It would be a more prestigious position, but definitely not as geographically advantageous being in the middle of Texas and all. This time, my resistance to applying had a new component. I feel like I am finding a home here. Not just a job in a good city near my research sources, but a home. I'm making contact, I'm finding friends, I'm settling in a way that I haven't done in any place, no matter how hard I tried, in nearly a decade. It's a bit scary because being invested in something means that you start to have something to lose; but it's also important. I start to feel real and connected; and, being as it is new, it feels like a whole new type of adventure.
So, an assignment that started out as a pain in the butt, a punishment, and with the stupid goal of "rehabilitating Clio's tarnished reputation," has turned into something pretty darn good that has given me some marketable skills, and proved personally and professionally satisfying.
There is a funny little coda to this week, too. One that, if I'm being paranoid, involves the Nemesis; and, if I'm not, means that I have a line on some cash that could mean more names to campus. After the success of my Monday event, I got an e-mail from woman who works in a program that runs a series of speakers and that falls under the same umbrella as that infernal fellowship. In fact, she reports to the Nemesis. She wants to help sponsor my program. My first reaction was, "cool! She has money!" Plus, I've liked her the few times that I've met her. Of course, I also liked the Nemesis the first few times that I met her, so clearly my judge of character is a bit off.
Then, I started to Zapruder her e-mail -- always a bad sign of paranoia. She didn't exactly offer any money, just publicity avenues and fliers. Now, while their fliers will be more professional and will mean that I won't be paying for brightly colored paper so that my fliers won't melt in with all of the other white or dully colored paper fliers, she doesn't really have access to any other publicity venues. Furthermore, she first brought this idea up to my chair back in January, that she sponsor his talk in April because she needed ideas for her own speaker series. He had already committed to me and recommended that she and I work together. I was apprehensive simply because of the connection to the Nemesis, but decided to quit acting all scarred, get over it and welcome collaboration, especially collaboration that comes with funding. Then, I didn't hear from her, and haven't really heard her publicize any other events all semester.
Now, my event is successful and I hear from her. I respond, still trying to maintain the positive attitude toward collaboration. Didn't hear back from her. I began moving forward on my chair's event -- and his really is an Event, involving both a talk and a field trip -- including her in on the e-mails, and still haven't heard from her. She's probably very busy; but I'm learning that you have to move fast on events because you are competing with other people for reservations. Not viciously, mind you, but other people have things going on, and space on the website, with ITV, and facilities, gets assigned on a first-come-first-served basis. In other words, I can't sit around waiting for e-mail replies, dammit!
Then my inner Paranoia, a nasty little gremlin with big, bulging muscles and long, sharp claws, crawled out and perched on the bones of my inner ear. "NOW you hear from her," he whispered. "You do something good, and NOW you hear from her. AND she's associated with the Nemesis. They want to co-opt your program!"
"Assholes!" I agreed.
"They want to co-opt your program after ONE event," he sneered. "They want to take it over and push you out."
"Bitchez!" I said, fearing the revocation of my feminist card for my sexism.
"They want to push you out and you won't get any credit and then your project is gone and you have nothing to do and they can use that against you," he whispered.
"Oh my god!" I gasped, "they do!"
Then, the Paranoia-fighting gargoyle showed up. She's bigger and not so muscle-bound. She dragged the Paranoia gremlin off and tied him down with duct-tape and told me, "so what if this asshole is right? You have a million other ideas and a million other things you do and can do!" Dis I mention that the gargoyle is smart, too?
So, yeah. Let them co-opt it, if the Paranoia gremlin is right. If he isn't, then I have a collaborator with money. In either case, I can take care of myself simply in doing things that I like to do. That's a fucking powerful feeling, and not one that I've felt much in my life.
That powerful feeling also goes back to that feeling of finding a home. I'm not running to somewhere else. I'm not overextending myself out of fear that, if I don't, the world will fall apart.
*I could say something snarky here about how this professor's influence seemed to have made no impact upon one of his former employers' exhibits at a certain museum -- and I just did.
**I was a film major for one semester back in 1986. Then, I learned that it was going to be expensive, and that I would have to interact with people. I switched to English so that I could read good books and have what I thought was going to be minimal interaction with other humans.
***I'm not remotely Arab American, but just as I'm not remotely African American, you don't have to belong to a group to have an interest in the history and life. Plus, they need some activities for the month on my campus, my fliers about my own events hit the Arab American Heritage Month coordinator's in box, and so she saw someone with some interest and ability for doing such events, and she contacted me. Since, in my classes, I include the ways that stereotypes have real consequences for the people stereotyped, we are going to do a program on Arab stereotypes. I'm also showing a film on Arab feminists.