And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? ― Rumi
When we struggle against our energy we reject the source of wisdom. -- Pema Chodron
I ought to know better. No good can come from reading email or looking at the news before my feet even hit the floor. It's bad practice. But I also suspect I'm not the only one who checks email, checks Facebook before doing something incredibly wise like 1) put on pants or 2) drink a cup of coffee. The first is simply a matter of form; I do not engage with my fellow man while my manhood is showing. The second is a matter of self-knowledge and common sense. Everyone who knows me knows that the world will have a much better version of me after a cup coffee. (Black, please. No cream. No Sugar. If you must add something, add bourbon.)
But because I sometimes use my cell phone as my alarm clock, I've gotten into the habit of putting it in Airplane Mode and keeping it bedside. (This is a habit I need to break.) I know there is nothing important enough I can learn from my phone that won't wait long enough for me to stand up. Humdrum habits.
This particular time, like most mornings, I didn't do that. I took it off Airplane Mode immediately, and once the phone found WiFi signal, I had a new message waiting on me. The subject line: Who Are You?
I'm writing because I found out you were hired to teach composition at the University of Louisville, where I was formerly the Director of Composition. I have connected with you on LinkedIn but that in no way qualifies as an endorsement of your teaching qualifications or skills. I am not a reference for you, nor will I be used as one, so I hope you didn't list me as a reference.
Do you have a master's degree in English from an accredited university, and do you have graduate coursework in Rhetoric and Composition? Be honest and forthright because I will find out the truth and you will NOT be teaching at UofL without proper credentials.
My reaction -- as described by Amanda -- was visceral.
If he had been in front of me, I could have ripped his tongue from his mouth. And I haven't raised a hand to hurt a human being more than a decade.
I'd nagged and prodded and somehow talked my way into a little work that would allow me to set up a home base in Louisville. The Universe had been kind enough to let me have that, and I was (and am) grateful for it. The whole identity theft issue made me laugh because while some may find my lack of traditional ambition and my politics criminal, I am not one.
Not yet, anyway. Give it time. We will all be criminals eventually.
My response was immediate and relatively articulate for as livid as I felt:
I did not list you as a reference. I reached out over LinkedIn when I assumed (because the website indicated as such) that you were still the Writing Program Director at U of L.
I attended Morehead State University and earned my MA in 2003. I have taught developmental, first year, and creative writing. I have been and still am a writing tutor. I have been a working journalist, and I'm a damn fine poet.
I neither wanted nor asked for your recommendation, and I don't care if you were the the Director of Composition or the Wizard of Oz. I am a fine teacher, a good human being, and you are an ass.
That response didn't do much to wash away the waves of hatred and wishes for a voodoo doll in his likeness. You want to be a stick up my ass? We'll see, we'll see...
I sent a second response, in which I gave him my phone number. I told him if he had any more questions that he was welcome to call me and I would be more than happy to tell him off via the phone.
After that, I sent an email to the current Director of Composition at U of L and copied the secretary and departmental HR rep, explaining that 1) I am myself and 2) that somehow, I managed to receive the most unprofessional contact from a colleague since having to interact with that pompous ass of an English Department Chair at Arizona State.
He -- the former Director who emailed me at 7:30 in the morning on a Saturday -- apologized. We have each made our conciliatory gestures. At this point I am more annoyed by someone's breach of professional ethics in disclosing my identity theft debacle to someone outside the university than I am by his reaction.
Annoyed, but not surprised. Just because I'm back in the classroom doesn't mean I've swallowed the Kool-Aid, Dear Readers. I am there to teach. That some other people are there to maintain tenuous little fiefdoms is part of the minefield we have wrapped higher education in.