Writing out the problem last night on this blog helped enormously, and I also really appreciate the helpful comments folks left.
Having written it out, I then decided to put away the computer and go to bed and read something unrelated, because I was really feeling stressed out ... as in heart palpitations stressed out. I know that there is no reason for such departmental administrative things to affect me like this, but they do, and I was really dreading potential fallout this week.
(Side note to wonder if I would be having different reactions if things hadn't gotten so ugly this year with Ex-Co-Author. I mean, when I say "fallout," what do I really mean? My colleagues are nice people and are hardly going to get back at me, so I wonder if all of this is just ongoing internal drama after the miseries of the fall?)
But, having resolutely put it out of my mind and taken an anti-anxiety pill and crawled into bed with a soothing book, I suddenly had an insight an hour later and popped back out of bed to get it all on paper (or rather on computer) while it was still clear. What it all came down to was realizing just how little we actually can do next year anyway, since most of the major changes will have to go through our curriculum committee and other bureaucratic steps before anything can move forward. The only thing we're going to do for next year (and even in this we're sliding by on a bit of a technicality) is to create an ELL version of our freshman English class rather than have the students in the current class they take. We've all been agreed all along that getting rid of that particular class is an important step in either plan.
And so, by twiddling with another class they also currently take, I realized that I could actually craft something of a compromise, in which we do part of Plan A and part of Plan B next year during that interim year. And then we can actually do some comparison and analysis of how each of those plans is working before we have to decide what we're actually going to propose for the following year.
So yay, everyone's a winner, at least in the short run! Yes, we'll still have to wrestle with this same issue next November and December, but (a) we'll have more actual data about how our students are doing at that point, and (b) I won't be department chair then! (Oh, and you'll appreciate that when the missing colleague did at last vote this morning, she voted for B, making it a full-on deadheat.)
I ran all of this past the previous/future department head this morning before sharing it with the department, because I thought it only fair to let her know that I was basically dropping this business back in her lap for next year (and she thought it was all great and that I had handled it beautifully, which was nice), and in our chit-chat emails back and forth she mentioned that she really thought I would be a fabulous academic dean and that perhaps this is a direction I should move toward in the next few years. So I told her about the nightmares and heart palpitations and how I really was thinking that I do not at all have a future in administration. She countered that she thought FGS culture was actually much more stressful for department chairs than a lot of other schools and that it might be worthwhile keeping an open mind about administrative possibilities, just not at FGS. Okay, food for thought ... but for now I'm counting down the days until this year is over!
(I actually favor a system in which the chair position rotates through the department and everyone does it for a three-year stint or so, and if that were the case at FGS I would totally suck it up and do this for two more years, in part because I think other folks in the department would be a little more generous toward the department chair if it felt more like a shared responsibility. But since that's not the system at FGS, I will happily hand the role back to my dept head when she returns from sabbatical.)