Life is better on the morrow.
Thanks for the kind comments on yesterday's post -- it helps to have sympathy!
And -- although I cried myself to sleep last night and cried again in the shower this morning -- things are indeed better now (although crying takes it out of a body -- I'm completely wiped out!).
My chair "checked in" with me mid-day, and we had a pretty good conversation, in which she apologized again for having stumbled onto a really sore point due to the Mr. Z interaction, which of course was something she hadn't known about. Also, the "several" people who had apparently "complained" about me have now become "a couple" of people who had simply "commented" in a completely minor way that I am bossy. And she said that she had made the comment in her write-up about me only because she thought I was destined by virtue of my brilliance and raw talent to be a "big fish" (no comment on the size of the pond) and could have any career I wanted in administration but that it would be helpful for me to know that some people could be intimidated by me. And I do actually take that point seriously, although my recent experience of being in leadership positions is that people find me extremely competent and not especially bossy; but it may well be that I am in fact less bossy when I'm the boss -- that actually strikes me as very possible. And I do actually think that I might be a good administrator ... but I'd have to figure out how not to cry in meetings! Oh, and here's a funny moment: She said, "You know, WN, you have a real gift for administration, and I don't know whether you realize that there are many people out there who aren't at all good at it." I said, "Oh, I know there are, and it drives me crazy!" to which she immediately replied, "Oh, okay, let's not go there." (Not that I would have said, "You, for example!," but clearly this was her fear.) And she's rewriting her final comment in her report and sending it to me for my okay so that the written record will be clearer.
Then, as I was heading to lunch, I ran into the dean, and she and I also had a good conversation. She said, "Okay, WN, you need to accept that people sometimes say 'several other people' when they mean themselves. I think the 'several people complaining about you' really means Mr. Z and your chair" -- exactly what D had said! The dean continued, "After all, who in your department is actually threatened by you? Only those two." She also told me that anyone who was working with Mr. Z would have exactly the same problem, since he is so completely resistant to change and resents anyone who has ideas and energy behind those ideas. And she said that she wanted me to talk with Mr. Z, not for my sake, since she thought that it might be pretty miserable and that he wouldn't apologize, but because she thought he needed to hear from me just how hurtful and unprofessional his behavior had been. It was the frankest conversation I'd ever had with her about my colleagues, and it was extremely reassuring!
And then I headed up to lunch and had a lively conversation with non-English colleagues about Texas textbook nonsense, about confounding variables (a new and useful phrase to have learned), about potential etymological connections between jerk spice and jerky, and about what the current vampire craze might say about the zeitgeist. Plus, in my classes today, I got to talk about apocalyptic literature and about Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (not in the same class!), and that's just a hell of a good time right there.
So I've decided not to let the bastards get me down, to enjoy myself as much as possible in the next two weeks (that is, through final exams) but not expect much more than simply getting by as easily as possible, to have a great time at the final faculty party (which is historically a totally fabulous shindig that neither Mr. Z nor my chair habitually attends), and to coast on into summer.