David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
Blue By U

May 6, 2014

"Why must I take it so hard?/Other people get by/on either bourbon or God."

So wrote Aimee Mann in the brilliant "Why Must I" while she was still leading 'Til Tuesday.  It's a line that has resonated for me since the day I first heard it.  It may not surprise anyone to know that on the "True Colors" (no, that's Cyndi Lauper, you say) personality test I am very blue.  Here's how one online explanation of "True Colors" explains blue people (no, I am not a smurf):

I need to feel unique and authentic.

Enthusiastic, Sympathetic, Personal.

I look for meaning and significance in life.

Warm, Communicative, Compassionate.

I need to contribute, to encourage, and to care.

Idealistic, Spiritual, Sincere.

I value integrity and unity in relationships.

Peaceful, Flexible, Imaginative.

I am a natural romantic, a poet, a nurturer.

(At least I'm not a joker, a smoker, a midnight toker.)

One of the reasons I gave up teaching for administration is the gut-wrenching one-on-one interaction with students that can eat at a blue soul (I admit I didn't know I was blue back when I taught, just that the work often left me blue).  I would agonize over paper grades, writing tons of comments to help students see how they could be better writers, and then anguish as a majority of the students simply ignored them, or worse, wanted to argue the grades.  I could have 24 students not argue grades, but if 1 or 2 did, they drained me emotionally.

So, I told people that I felt I could have a greater impact in administration teaching teachers who could then spread the wealth (whatever that was; I assumed I had something that made sense/cents).  How could that not be exactly what feeds a blue soul?  What I didn't realize back then, though, was that I would have to convey more group decisions that left me as many one-on-one soul-searching explanations -- and drained emotions -- as any grade explanations.

I have had to tell people their campuses were being closed, that they would have to reapply for positions, that their position would go away, that their program would go away.  Each time I feel like the blue meanie.  Hell, at least the student's grade was a reflection on what he or she had earned.  In most cases, these large-scale administrative decisions can't simply be dumped on "you could have done better."

You wanna know the real blues to being blue:  my damn personality is the kind to say, "no, I should be the one to communicate that to the affected people."  Shirking my responsibility, allowing someone else to be the bearer of bad news to anyone that ultimately reports to me, is inconceivable (yes, Inigo Montoya, I do know what that word means.).

Why do I share all of this now?  I guess it's my confession for people who may not even read this.  It may also be that neither bourbon nor God seem close at hand.