I felt today was going to be a good day. I had found my contact lenses--lost since our move in December. I was having a good hair day--rare in the trillwing-Bastardson household, I assure you. And I was wearing one of my favorite outfits, which includes a neat knee-length skirt. I felt great.
So I catch the bus to campus. It's the wrong bus, I realize after I've gotten on it, but that's OK--it just means I have to walk a few extra blocks. Big deal.
Except that half a block from work, I slipped and fell on my ass in the street, exposing myself to three male students. I landed on my back, protected, thank goodness, by my really dorky super-padded computer backpack. Also fortunately: the laptop wasn't in the bag.
I worked through the morning, trying to ignore a sore wrist and bruised butt. I got a mediocre lunch at 11 a.m. because I had to teach a workshop at noon.
(Cue ominous "dah-dah-DUM" music.)
I've given lots of workshops on Sakai, the course management system my university has implemented. In fact, about 90% of my job is to help faculty navigate Sakai and use its tools, where appropriate, to improve and extend their teaching. Today's course was for the campus's teaching resources center, the place grad students and faculty go when they want good advice or other resources about teaching.
Thank god I've come to know these people fairly well.
Last Saturday morning, the campus upgraded to Sakai 2.3 from Sakai 2.1. I had used 2.3 on a test server, so I'm pretty familiar with it. But this was the first workshop I had given on 2.3.
As usual, I made practice sites for everyone who would be attending so that they'd have some place to muck around. I work with a lot of programmers, and I'm not yet trusted (rightly so, I'm guessing) to be given too many administrative privileges because I could really eff things up, you know? But I have this one little thing I'm allowed to do, and it's to make practice sites.
So we sit down in the lab and I ask everyone to log in to Sakai, and none of their training sites appear.
Great. I worked around this, albeit in a kind of clumsy way. In other words, my teaching sucked in front of the master teachers. Nice.
And then every 3-5 minutes someone would stumble across a new bug. That's a lot of bugs in a two-hour workshop.
I usually emerge from workshops energized, but this one really sapped my energy. I felt like a vacuum salesman who turns on his product for a demonstration, and then the thing blows up, spreading dust and dirt and doghair everywhere.
I returned to my cubicle and was soon confronted by not one, not two, but three people--one of them the very busy executive director of my organization--because I had sent an e-mail to my supervisor asking if I could order my own business cards next time because mine had errors--things were not the way I wanted them. Some of the errors were little ones, but a couple were really irritating. And since I've worked as an editor, I really do care about these things. But then of course the exec director accuses me of trying to drag the woman who ordered the cards "through the mud," which is not what I wanted to do at all--I wanted to handle it through back channels, and all of a sudden it's a huge kerfluffle. And since I work in a cubicle, everyone knows what's going on. And this is the only real contact I've had with the exec director. Yay me.
By this point I felt like a complete idiot and just wanted. to. go. HOME. Wanted to call Mr. Trillwing, but I work in a cubicle, so there's no privacy. Wanted to scream and cry and stomp and hide under my desk all at the same time.
I know I'm not alone in having days like this.
Anyway, it's emotionally exhausting, and it takes a lot to really drain me to the point of tears. But somehow today's constellation of events--which, taken on their own, would not have pushed me over the edge--did just that.
So I need to know: What are your strategies for coping with emotional exhaustion when you're stuck at work? I know most of my readers are academics who can go home early or close the office door, but what happens when you can't? How do you make it through the rest of the day?
This bruised-butt, editorially obsessive techo-idiot wants to know.