This afternoon we had the employee meeting at which we were informed by the head of school about next year's budget. I've been fretting about this for the last couple of days, not least because we had such a torrent of rain last night that the weak spot in our roof leaked extravagantly, such that we had to line the stairs with pans to catch the drips. Fortunately the leak seems entirely contained (knock on wood) to the stairs down to our unfinished basement, and we spent a fortune when we bought the house on putting a water barrier system (or whatever it's properly called) in the basement itself, so it was a very localized problem. Moreover, that leak sprang up only once before, during the fiercest and most voluminous rain I've seen since a hurricane came through campus in my freshman year of college. So this isn't a persistent problem, but it is one that will need to be addressed when we have the money.
So finances were on my mind anyway in anticipation of today's meeting. At last year's comparable meeting, the only bright side was no layoffs; the bad news was a wage and step freeze, an end to TIAA-CREF contributions by the school, and an end to having the school pay all of our health insurance costs. So in effect we got a pay cut, which was only to be expected in that economic climate, but we were all nervous about what might happen this year.
So nervous, apparently, that my face muscles have seemed permanently clenched every night for the last week or so, and I had a terrible dream last night that my job was in danger because I was being observed while teaching, and yet I kept getting kicked out of my room and then the students would wander off, all while my department chair was watching disapprovingly and scribbling notes. I woke up completely exhausted and was in such a terrible mood by the time I got to school. I was an hour into the school day before I put the dream and my money anxieties together. Not that I was actually worried about losing my job, but apparently I was about having that job somehow pared down, in compensation if in no other way.
But there's good news as of today! Still no layoffs, and indeed salary step increases reinstated to where they would have been without last year's freeze (well, sort of -- that is, we're now on track for steps, but of course those step levels are what they were two years ago, if you see what I mean -- but hey, I'm not complaining!), and TIAA-CREF employer contributions reinstated at the same level. Applause broke out at both announcements. This is good news indeed, so much better than what we'd been fearing. The optimistic folks had thought that we'd get either the raise or the retirement contributions, but no one thought we'd get both.
I'm finally feeling my gut muscles unclench, and maybe I'll finally get my face muscles to unclench tonight. What a relief!
I well know how lucky I am -- indeed, how lucky I would still have been if none of this good news had happened today -- but I am also currently the sole bread-winner in the family, a responsibility I find weighty and sleep-disturbing. I'm hoping the sleep will be a little sweeter tonight.