development and tomato plants
i enjoyed a good meeting this morning with sociology's fine development officer -- development, of course, being a euphemism for fundraising. i know that i'm supposed to hate fundraising, but i really like spending time with the friends and alums who support the department. they've all got interesting stories to tell and they're often interested in my tales of sociological research and public criminology. plus, they're generally more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse than the average academic, so it is easy to share a conversation and a laugh at a dinner reception or football game.
like most everybody else, risk-taking entrepreneurs have been hit hard by the economic downturn. i know several good men and women who built businesses over decades, only to see them decimated in the past couple of months. can you imagine telling your staff and hard-working long-term employees that you can't pay them anymore? to run a 40-person operation with a 5-person skeleton crew? or, to bolt the doors and wait for the creditors? by contrast, we at the minnversity -- especially those of us with tenured appointments -- have been insulated from economic crises.
seeking some inspirational verse for a friend in such a position, i hit on some dramatic military settings (e.g., generals breaking bad news to the troops), but nothing that fit her situation. the folks i know seem more like devout gardeners than generals, so i'll offer up this poem from louise glück:
by Louise Glück
In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.