Although I wouldn't wish it on anybody, there is some small consolation in the fact that other people are also having a cruddy time of it lately. It's not just my individual failings as a person and as a teacher, or the failings of my colleagues, university, or climate. It's just that time of semester. Blech.
One of the things I always have liked about my job here at Large Urban is that my department is quite astonishingly collegial, for an English dept. No hokey picnics or forced get-togethers (except for the holiday party) -- we're not all friends, after all -- but we manage to speak civilly and behave ourselves.
Or at least we did, until last spring. And thus far it seems as though this fall term is not going to be any better. Apparently the only thing bonding us all together was the terrible administration we used to have. Without that common enemy to fight, we are now attacking each other. I'm staying clear of the fray, as much as I can; luckily it's mostly about territory I'm not that interested in. (If you want to debate the finer points of department bylaws for six hours, go ahead. Just send me the memo afterwards.) But the atmosphere at work is pretty lousy, and it's starting to affect me.
Working at home today was a great relief, except for when I checked my email and had to shuttle 10 emails from the current pissing matches into my "Department Crap" folder. I'm not even reading all the stuff from the department listserv these days, but just seeing the names of certain Self-Righteous Old Farts appearing over and over in my box is disheartening.
So here's hoping that tomorrow's students will brighten my mood. Although, since they're turning in papers, the chances for lively discussion are probably kind of slim. Time to create a more structured exercise...