Category Archives: Work

Days and Days of Pain

At the end of last week, I said I was very busy and I was. However, I also seemed to be having an intense reaction to an increase in my medication that was meant to control my headaches. It appeared to do the opposite and I was having really bad headaches that were affecting every part of my head, my vision, my ability to sleep, and my ability to concentrate. I sent a message to my neurologist about the issue and went back to my old dosage of medicine. It seemed to have helped some. I am awaiting a response from my neurologist, and hopefully, she’ll respond today. The last few days have been very difficult because none of my relief medications seemed to be working. The headaches just seemed to be getting worse and worse. Yesterday was some better, but the pain was still present, although more tolerable. 

I hate these fucking headaches. I had been looking forward to my three days as I’m off today because it’s my Saturday to work at the museum this week. I have dreaded the return of Saturdays at the museum. We only are open on Saturdays when students are on campus, and with the pandemic, we have not opened on Saturdays in over a year. Next week will be hell week, i.e. Homecoming. We will be working our butts off all week and the weekend next week. I hate Homecoming week. Oh well, something to look forward to next week. There is no rest for the weary.

As Scarlett O’Hara said, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”


Happy Labor Day

Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being. Today, I salute all the workers of America.


TGIF?

Today will be the first day without my coworker who left. Yesterday was her last day. I didn’t cry when we said goodbye, but I came very close. I will miss her so much. I no longer have someone I can go bitch and complain to in confidence. Sometimes, you just don’t want to bitch out your boss, and you need someone else to talk to. She was also always there to talk to about anything and everything. I can still text her anytime, but it’s just not the same.

I’ll still be seeing her on occasion, just not every day. I lost too much time with her during our work from home period during the pandemic. I’ll still see her occasionally though. Next week begins Pride Week in Vermont, and the Pride Ball is next Friday. Another friend and I will go to the ball, and we’ll meet my former coworker for dinner that night before we go. There will be other times that I see her, but it’s just not the same.


Farewell Lunch

We will be having a farewell lunch for one of my coworkers today. I hate the reason why she’s leaving, but I understand. She stood up for her principles, and the university went against her. It’s been an infuriating sequence of events. I did all I could to keep her here, but it wasn’t enough. She’s going to be very difficult to replace at the museum. She won’t even be staying in Vermont. She’s moving back down South to be near her family.

I will miss her when she’s gone. She’s been a great friend to me while I’ve been here. She welcomed me when I first came to Vermont, and she’s done her best to make me feel at home up here. Whether that was having me for Easter or Thanksgiving or making fried green tomatoes together, she’s always brought a little of the good parts of the South to Vermont. She always had some sweet tea for me when I’d go to her house. I really will miss her. She’s irreplaceable as a friend.


Feeling Better

Thankfully, I am feeling much better. Slowly throughout the day yesterday as I got some much needed rest, I started to feel better, and the nausea subsided. For the most part so did the headache.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what I wear to work (which you probably haven’t), today I’m wearing an almost identical outfit to the guy above, except that I am wearing socks. Shorter pants and no socks is just not a fashion trend I care it embrace.


Road Trip

I will be spending most of my day in a car with my boss. We have to drive up to the northern part of the state to look at some artifacts someone wants to donate. We know we will be bringing back at least one donation, but I’m not sure how many more. Sadly, my boss does not look like the guy in the picture above. My boss is kind of dorky. We will also be professionally dressed and not in workout clothes, LOL. It’s going to be a long day. He’s expecting us to be back by lunch, but I expect it will be more like the middle of the afternoon. He told me yesterday that we will also be visiting another museum, but I have no idea why. He didn’t say, and yesterday was a vacation day, so I didn’t ask. I’m sure he thinks he told me; he always thinks he tells us stuff. However, he’s constantly forgetting to tell us things we need to know. He’s a really nice guy, just an incompetent and inefficient dumbass.

Tonight, I have plans to go with a friend up to Burlington to eat at a new barbecue place. The menu looks good, so I hope the food is actually good. A lot of times, Vermont restaurants put their own Vermont twist on food, especially when it’s a food where simpler is better. This place doesn’t indicate on their menu that they’ve put a Vermont twist on it, but we will just have to wait and see. The only food twist that’s apparent on their menu is their cheesy gravy tots, which sound like a southern version on poutine.


Chicago Job Update

I received an email from the museum in Chicago saying the team wanted to continue to pursue me as a job candidate and would like to set up a time for a Zoom interview sometime between Friday and Tuesday. I wrote back I was most available on Friday. The interview is scheduled for 2 pm today. It will be an interview with the museum’s Executive Director and the COO of the foundation that funds the museum.

There is not much I can do to prepare except refresh myself with the job’s description. The interview I had with HR was pretty thorough so I know what to expect. The team will have my resume, cover letter, and the HR person’s initial interview notes. I assume they will want to get a feel for how dynamic I am, and how well I could represent the museum in the community while also expanding on some of the questions already asked by HR.

I hope this interview will be an easy conversation about the position, and I will be able to address any issues they throw at me. This museum has a mission similar to my current museum except they are more focused on all veterans whereas my university-based museum is more focused on alumni veterans. Also, this Chicago museum has more funds and prestige in the wider veteran community. I have worked with this museum and its foundation in multiple ways. The foundation funded the position which originally brought me to Vermont. 

They know I interviewed for a different position at their museum several years ago. Ultimately, they hired someone with more qualifications. In the current available job, I meet all the required and preferred qualifications much like when I applied for the previous position I held at my current museum. I am confident I am what they are looking for. 

However, there is a lot for me to consider. Primary considerations are: 

  1. Will they offer a salary that will make the move to Chicago worthwhile? Rent and cost of living are higher there.
  2. Will the pros outweigh the cons regarding vacation time and benefits?
  3. Chicago does have a more active LGBTQ+ scene than Vermont as do most places, but that is a consideration.
  4. I will lose my current faculty status as an Assistant Professor. This is a personal consideration that may not mean as much to others.
  5. Before I could say yes, I would need to discuss the healthcare situation in Chicago with my current medical providers. While I realize Chicago is a larger city and the opportunity for world-class healthcare should be available, my medical team at the University of Vermont and Dartmouth have been life-changing.

It’s a lot to consider if they offer me the job. I’ll just have to wait and see.

UPDATE: The interview seemed to go pretty well. I think I answered their questions and was able to show them I would be a good fit. Now, I have to wait for them to finish the other interviews and get back to me. It seems like this was the final interview in the process, and they will not be bringing people to Chicago because of COVID.


Pending…

We had the meeting yesterday morning, and quite honestly, it probably couldn’t have gone worse. It appeared that all hope was lost. We were being forced to compromise. They let us have our say, then we were told they did not care. The directive had come from on high. The situation was as bleak as it could possibly be.

However, there were some late day developments that may have changed some things, I can’t go into details because quite honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We were told things needed to be put on hold until this could be discussed further when the ultimate decision maker would be back. Let’s just say we were given the impression that the directive did not come from on high. The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet, and the ultimate decision is still pending, I don’t see a different outcome in our future, but I think the ultimate decision will be delivered with more tact in hopes of mollifying everyone.

Anyway, I have my interview at 10 am, and after the interview (probably after lunch), I’ll update this post with how it went. Until then, I hope today is a better day than yesterday.

UPDATE: My interview seemed to go exceptionally well. She said that I sounded exactly like what they were looking for, and the job seemed to be well-suited to me because of my description to her of why I was interested in the position. Because this is a new position they were creating, she asked if I would be comfortable in starting in a position that had no prior established procedures. I told her that in my current position, I had been hired as the first person to hold this newly created position, so I had experience with this aspect of the job and looked forward to the opportunity to mold the position into the best it can be. We talked about a lot of things, and she brought up a discussion of salary, and it is in the range I was considering, so that’s definitely a plus. 

In addition to all of that, the phone interview was supposed to take 20-30 minutes and took about 40 minutes instead. That seems like a good sign to me. She said she’d pass her notes and my application material to the museum’s hiring committee (she’s just the first line HR person), and she’d let me know the next step (i.e. if they were going to continue with me as a candidate or not) early next week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday. She’ll give them her recommendation, and we’ll see how it goes from there. She seemed to be leaning in the direction that I was exactly what they were looking for in this position.


Work Problems

Work is a mess right now. We are having a problem with a donor who wants to dictate what the museum exhibits. It’s not something I can go into too much detail about, but basically, the Office of Development (the fundraising wing) of the university’s administration wants this donor’s money and is trying to force the museum to cave to the pressure he is putting on us. If they force us to yield, we will not only alienate a large section of our student and alumni population, but we will most assuredly lose the other curator at the museum. Also, the museum will have to face a public relations nightmare that Development won’t have to deal with immediately. However, in the long run, it will be a disaster for fundraising efforts to the group of students and alumni they will piss off by doing this.

There are numerous reasons why we have to do our best to stop them from forcing us to change the current exhibit. One of those reasons is the main reason we did this exhibit: public health concerns. We needed an exhibition that would allow the gallery to be a more open space. We needed to have an exhibit where people would continue to social distance. If we cram more into this gallery like this donor wants us to do, the gallery will become a public health hazard. This will be even more of an issue at homecoming when we have many more people on campus and the museum sees heavy traffic during this time. The nation, and the northeast included, is already seeing cities begin to reinstitute mask mandates because the variants of COVID are spreading even to the vaccinated. While the vaccinated don’t seem to be dying from the variants, I don’t think the university wants to be seen as a hotbed of an outbreak because we had people crammed into an enclosed area during homecoming.

I am not directly involved in this as my director and the other curator did not include me in most of the planning or execution of our current exhibit. Usually, I am much more involved, and I write many of the interpretive labels. This exhibit, however, did not need interpretive labels, so I wasn’t very involved. However, once the exhibit is up, that’s when I get involved in creating innovative and engaging programs highlighting the exhibit. I have been working on several programs that I do not know what will happen to if they make the changes to the exhibit they are discussing. My plans for public programs for the museum will fall apart if changes are made.

I’ll be honest, our current exhibit is not my cup of tea. I would have never organized this exhibit, but now that it is installed, we can’t just take it down when we have had an opening reception for it, and all of the publicity for the exhibit says it is scheduled to run through December. Also, as I said before, if they force us to make changes, our other curator will quit. If that happens, who do you think will have to help take up the slack: yours truly. My director and I will be forced to try to retool the exhibit to this donor’s liking without the expertise to do it. Neither of us is an exhibit planner, which takes a unique skill set.

We have a meeting tomorrow morning with the powers that be to discuss these issues. While I am not the main person this will affect, it will most certainly make my job more difficult. We will only have a matter of a few short weeks to make the somewhat drastic changes they are requesting, something that usually takes months of planning, preparation, and execution. The higher-ups are not looking at the long-term picture. They are only looking at a few immediate things, and they are not considering the number of donations they will lose because of this fiasco one donor is causing.

To be prepared for tomorrow’s meeting, I have made a list of eight essential points that I want to bring up. I am not a particularly forceful person, but when attacked, I can bite back. I feel like I have to be assertive but rational in this situation. My director is a very weak leader, and he is a nice guy but not a great director. He has already given up as being defeated in this battle, and I am not sure how much he will muster to fight for the museum. If ever there was a time, this is it. If he caves to the pressure, we will always have to cave to their demands from here on out. I also know that our other curator is going to be emotional and irrational. She will not be able to argue effectively. She has faced some personal tragedies and is a bit unstable at the moment. I honestly believe that if they listen to me, as they say they are coming down to do, then I can rationally layout why dictating changes to this exhibit will be a major mistake and have dire consequences in the future, not only for the museum but for the university as a whole.

While I may sound like I am being dramatic, I am not exaggerating the issues a decision like this from the administration will cause. It will affect our chances of accreditation. It will affect donor and alumni relations, not only for the museum but for the university. There will be a backlash from a small but very vocal group of alumni and friends of the museum. The university is not prepared for that backlash. They may even immediately lose some promised funding they desperately need. The one thing I don’t want to do is sound like I am threatening the administration. I will not be the one causing the external issues that will arise, but I know these museum supporters, and they will not let go of this. They will cause a massive amount of embarrassment to the university.

When I learned about all of this on Monday, I made up my mind to apply for a job in Chicago, which I did yesterday morning. It is a job for which I am highly qualified without being overqualified. The last time I felt this way about a job I applied for was the job that moved me to Vermont. I believe I am their perfect candidate, and my resume apparently drew their interest because they emailed me yesterday afternoon to set up a phone interview.

If the administration forces the changes they want to make onto us, the museum will cease to be the same place I have worked at for the past six years. There are other changes that they want to make which will not be good for the museum. I honestly love my job, and I love many of the people I work with. Since they created my current position and hired me for it, I have felt like I found my calling. I love the flexibility I have had working for my current director, as he understands my health issues. I have established a life in Vermont, and I honestly don’t want that to change. A few minor improvements wouldn’t hurt, but overall, I am where I want to be and doing what I love to do. I am praying that they won’t ruin any of this.


Being Who I Am And Saying What I Feel

Tonight, the museum is hosting a reception for the opening of a new exhibit. The reception will be the first in-person event, and the first time the public will be allowed in the museum since the pandemic started. However, it will still not be back to normal. Anyone wanting to attend has to register for the opening by calling the museum. Attendees are also required to have a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the event and/or proof of vaccination when they check in. Also, the reception will be held outdoor, so we can allow a few people at a time into the museum to view the exhibit. All of this is exciting but also nerve-racking.  I never do well at these types of events. I get nervous in crowds of people I don’t know well.

When I’m in a room full of strangers or only passing acquaintances, as will be the case tonight, I never really know how to interact. I listen more than talk because I never know what to say. I tend to overanalyze every movement, word, and thought a hundred times throughout the event and afterward. If I can stick close to someone I know well, then I am generally okay, but if I am left alone with someone I barely know, my anxiety takes over. Sometimes, I can do quite well. This is probably conceited of me, but the more knowledgeable I am about my surroundings, the better I do. However, this is an art exhibit, and I am a military historian, not an art historian. I can usually hold my own with art pieces that are at least a hundred years old, but all of the art in this exhibit is abstract art from a living artist. I am completely lost.

Yesterday, I talked about “clothes make the man.” Tonight, I will be wearing a suit. The biggest problem is that I have lost some weight, and my newer suits (they are at least 2-3 years old), are too big now, and I have not lost quite enough weight to fit into my older suits. I rarely wear suits. I only wear them for university functions like the reception tonight. I have no need for a suit any other time. So, I have to make do with what I have. It’s too late to try to buy a new suit, and that’s an expense I was not prepared for anyway. Plus, everywhere I know of in Vermont that sells suits has a very small selection of suits that would fit me. It’s hard enough to find a shirt that fits well, let alone a suit. Besides, I hope I will continue to lose weight, and if I do, then any suit I buy right now would also be too big.

I like to look my best at these functions. I will wear what makes me feel most comfortable and looks the best on me. But, as much as I want everything to look good on me, I can’t help but wonder what others will think if I wear a particular piece of clothing a certain way. I can’t help but create these internal struggles that I can only see and feel. I don’t want to believe that these thoughts are my truths, but they sometimes take precedence. While I don’t compare myself to others usually, I can’t help but feel that I have to act, talk, or look a certain way to be allowed to be a part of someone else’s world instead of just trusting myself that I am enough to be loved for who I am.

The American financier and statesman Bernard M. Baruch once said, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” While this is excellent advice, I have the university’s administration to impress tonight. I have met our new university president only once for a few minutes back in October. He started a year ago, but we have had little contact with him in person because of the pandemic. There will be other big wigs there as well, but I hope I can go by Baruch’s maxim: “Those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

Below are a few pieces of advice I am trying to take to heart:

  1. Be kind to myself and appreciate who I am
  2. Resist the urge to please others constantly
  3. Only say things I mean
  4. Get to know myself better
  5. Try not to overanalyze and be fully present in every moment.
  6. And finally, as RuPaul sings in her song “Sissy That Walk”:

Pick myself up, turn the world on its head
Don’t forget what my mama said
People talking since the beginning of time
Unless they’re paying your bills, pay them bitches no mind