Thank you for your comments on my last post. I can use a lot of the language you've offered in confronting her because, right now, my own language runs toward the OMFGWTFH! Also, you've confirmed my suspicion that I'm not the diva in this scenario and that I'm totally within my rights so say something like "OMFGWTFH!" Although that may not be the most productive course of action.
Sadly, the person in question IS the head of learning communities, so no going to the head of learning communities to intercede on my behalf. I'll have to muster the energy to handle it myself on the first round. I confess that have dreaded working with her ever since the second week of class the first time we worked together. The community was developed by her and someone else and "it's really important to keep it going." In theory, yeah, I'm for that. In practice, why oh why of all of the qualified professors for her half of the deal does it have to be her? Since I'm the only full-timer who does my class, I'm kind of stuck with it all unless I do something highly drastic like develop another class that only I can teach -- a year long process or more when you have to run it through a curriculum committee -- and then schedule it at the same time. I'd do that in a heartbeat if I had the time, but research and writing take precedent over all other new projects.
So, yeah, I'm going to have to take this one head-on but diplomatically or it will just get worse. It already has gotten worse because that list of 10? Most have happened repeatedly, but nine of them actually happened this week alone. If that fails -- and I could be nice and give her three chances -- then round two is the dean. The dean, incidentally, probably doesn't want to see me coming because one of the divas from the previous post created a potential disaster and expected me to help her fix it by going to my dean and asking for a shitton of money.
On that one -- another OMG that I probably should have seen coming but it was flying a little under my radar. That diva came across the opportunity for a somewhat famous author (not like, Stephen King famous, more like "was reviewed in the New York Times" famous -- at least to me) to come speak at our school. The Famous Author is travelling from point A to point B and offered to give lectures at points along the way. We, of course, would be willing to have the bookstore sell her books -- the last of which I thought was fairly old for a book tour and was, in fact, published five years ago.
That I thought, "oh, how generous of Famous Author" should be a testament to my naivete. That, when told that the event would be at my oft-maligned campus, I thought "oh, how generous of the Diva" is a testament to my inability to add 2 and 2 together and realize that she would not be so generous as to have Famous Author speak at our maligned campus if the theater on her campus was not undergoing renovations. Although, I did rather suspect that being the point person on my campus would me that I would be doing a good deal of the ground work, which I didn't mind for various reasons that I am still sorting out with my analyst.
In doing the ground work, I discovered that our lovely new campus theater that is not supposed to be "for profit" is generally booked by non-college organizations over a year in advance. In fact, if I want to use it for any event NEXT year, I should reserve a space now. So much for student-centeredness (drink!). Let's not also forget about the fee to use the theater facilities, as well. So, I've found a suitable classroom and tried to add a little sophistication to the arrangements by looking into some other little niceties.
Then, on a Friday afternoon, minutes before I'm headed out to pick up the Gentleman Caller from the airport (meaning that I had other things on my mind that did not involve other people's tizzy fits of their own creation), I received a panicked e-mail from the Diva saying that the contract has to get to Famous Author by MONDAY MORNING at the latest and we are close to four figures short of her speaker's fee.
Dammit. That's what you get when you break your rule about reading office e-mail on your research and writing days: Shitstorms in the inbox.
Anyway. Speaker's fee? Of that amount? Maybe this is another testament to my naivete or maybe this is a testament to my bad memory, but I don't recall that this was an issue four months ago when this was first presented.
Maybe I should get some information on solid commitments and facts and numbers and possible fine print before I start assuming that people are being generous with their time and expertise. Maybe I should dig in my heels at the words "maybe" when uttered in connections with future events when no other solid information has been offered.
Nearly four figures. Oh, and we need to find lodging for Famous Author, can someone volunteer their home? Otherwise, Famous Author won't need anything else but those list of items that I had not heard anything about before but it seemed I should have because the phrasing of the sentence implied that I had already taken care of that list of items. I later found that some of those listed items are a physical impossibility; but, oh!, she MUST have them.
At which point came the dawn. Famous Author travelling from point A to point B wants someone to pay for her trip home. I've heard of a somewhat Famous Historian who does the same thing and won't even visit his own parents until he finds an institution near their home that will have him as a speaker and pay his travel expenses. I think had I realized four months ago that a significant amount of cash would be required -- I'm suspecting that I'm hearing only a fraction of the cost -- and that such funds were absolutely not available, I might have suggested that our efforts might be put to better use in bringing more local talent to the school -- and I have a list of suggestions!
Part of me would like to think that Famous Author is not this much of a prima donna herself and that I'm just confusing the actual requests with the rather panicked, last minute and obfuscated way that this crisis is being presented to me. After all, having an honorarium and the expectation of lodging isn't unreasonable for someone speaking on campus. I'd expect it if I were her because we are asking her to work and her labor is worth something. I wonder how this original offer to speak was actually offered or what I forgot that led me to think that this financial problem was not going to crop up.
As for the "rider" sort of requests, it isn't like she demanded removal of all brown M&Ms. I'm getting substitutes for the things that are impossibilities and I would hope that Famous Author would not walk in, see the substitute, and storm out. Much of the diva energy is coming from the Diva herself.
Anyway, back to the Friday afternoon financial panic. Close to four figures short and could I go to my dean and anyone else to ask for it? Now, I don't know a damn thing about fundraising beyond, "let's have a bake sale." I'll do a bake sale. Not that it would raise the necessary amount, but it would feel slightly less humiliating than going to my dean and anyone else when people are getting furloughs and serious educational needs are not being met because money is so tight and then asking for what seems like a huge amount to me for an event over which people on our campus had very little to no say in staging.
Yet, there I was, on a Friday afternoon, one foot out the door to pick up my Gentleman Caller, crafting a very humble, diplomatic and gracious letter to the dean and others asking if they might know where such an amount could be raised. I made sure to put this crafted letter at the top of a forward containing the Diva's letter saying that she was short of cash to ensure that it would be read and understood that this begging was not my idea.
That I didn't hear back the dean for five days suggested to me that I had overstepped my bounds. My dean observed that the amount seemed a bit steep and that she could only offer this smaller amount. God, I felt like I was taking crumbs from a starving baby. Not because of the dean, but because I just know that some other program needs the cash more -- like my own speaker's series, for instance, which is going to languish because I've pretty much hit the end of the local talent and even the tiny fees of local speaker's bureaus would have to come out of my pocket. Others must be in the same boat.
As for anything else involved in this venture, I have no idea what needs to be done in general so that I can anticipate any disasters that could be easily avoided with just a slight bit of foresight. I can't trust that such things like publicity will be done in a timely manner or that they won't be dropped on my lap at the last moment.
I really should have listened to Sal, who had this position before I did. She warned me to refuse any request emanating from that campus and from the Diva because it would just lead to a mess that could have been avoided. I suppose I was still trying to ingratiate myself to her in order to ingratiate myself to my own dean and prove a professionalism that I absolutely did not need to prove. Sell yourself short, and that's what happens.
The overall lessons that I'm taking away from all of this are to avoid developing the personality of a tweaking ferret, to find the huevos to confront problems without anger, to learn how to function effectively with astoundingly disorganized people, and to figure out when something is someone else's problem of their own creation and I don't get a damn thing out stepping up to help except seething frustration and long bitching blog posts.