emotional labour · mental health · slow academy · teaching · women · you're awesome

A different kind of love letter

When I was little my parents made a big deal about it because it was the day before my birthday. Valentine’s Day = pre-birthday. They made me cards and I usually got a few small things: some candy to be sure, and maybe a pair of funny socks of something.

These days I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day, not really. Now that I’m an adult I find this holiday particularly cumbersome. There’s a lot of expectation, and I’m obviously not the first one to observe this fact. It seems to be one of the most gratuitous holidays on the calendar, at least in the ways that it is marketed. But I’ve been trying to train myself to be an optimist (ahem, emphasis on the trying! for those of you who may have just spat your coffee out).

So in the name of positivity I want to give a shout out to all the people who make my experience—as a woman working in the academy—a wonderfully rich thing. There is so much that can get me down about working in this profession. Lack of job security, the seemingly omnipresent glass ceiling, the unpaid emotional work that wears me down sometimes, all of this and more can start to cloud my vision and have me feeling (justifiably most of the time) like Snoopy when he’s feeling vulture-y. But today I want to cast a warm huzzah! out to some of the aspects of what Heather has so aptly named the beautiful job.

That’s right y’all; this is a love letter.

I love the amazing women in the English Department’s main office. They deal with everything to sewage leaks in my office (again), to frantic students, to impossible scheduling conflicts, to welcome committee, to administrative mavens, to who knows what else because they do it all and make it look easy. Thank you MB, thank you CP.

I love my colleagues. I really do. The ones here in Halifax and the ones far away. There are some many amazingly smart, committed, compelling people doing incredible game-changing work in our profession. I am especially grateful to the ones (and they know who they are) who have taken it upon themselves to mentor me since I’ve arrived here. I appreciate you, I see the work you do, I’m grateful.

I love that I don’t always love my job. I love that I work in a profession that keeps me critically attentive to the why in ‘why am I doing this?’ I love that the strangest, smallest, or most unexpected things can make my entire month. Case in point, a few weeks ago I received an email from a (famous!!) poet I greatly admire but have never met. She wants to come here to do a reading. Someone in the profession—a colleague several provinces away whom I’ve also never met—recommended that the poet get in touch with me. How very cool is that?

I love that this job let’s me imagine ways of collaborating with my friends and colleagues. (Hi Heather! Hi Aimée! Hi TVM! KM! Hi ECK! Hi RC, RZ, TC! Hi KS, db, I’m so excited!) I love too that it allows me to keep in touch with my mentors and far-flung friends. See you in Fredericton!

I love the students. Mostly. I love that from time to time I get an email out of the blue from a student who has read a book she thought I might like, or who wants to tell me she’s just received an interview. I love that I get to work with students and that more than sometimes I feel like we’re all learning.

I love my partner ME and our fabulous dog Felix. Both of these big hearted, wise entities keep me grounded and help to remind me that there is indeed a big(ger) picture. ME moved his whole life to Halifax to give me a shot at the beautiful job. That’s pretty bloody awesome, isn’t it? Thank you, love. (Felix the Dog came along. He’s a team player.)

I love my partner in crime MC without whom I would not make it to yoga each weekday, or have regular conversations deconstructing patriarchal paradigms, and spend a good deal of time making each other laugh.

Oh yes, and I love you dear readers. It is quite a thing to know you’re out there agreeing, disagreeing, reading, thinking, and doing.

OK, this is fun. Your turn.

5 thoughts on “A different kind of love letter

  1. I love the anonymous carnation I just got, and the gifts my casts and students give me. Their spontaneous generosity always makes me blush and helps me remember that we are people first and professionals second.


  2. Ah, SC! Spontaneity is *so* lovely isn't it?

    Pantagruelle, thanks, but I know the privilege is mine: what a fine privilege it is to talk with all our readers! Also, miss you!


  3. I love my occasional overnights in YHZ and getting to spend time with you and ME (felix too).

    I also love that dogs don't need valentine's day to have a cuddle nap on the couch


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