When I first started this blog in the summer of 2009, I was preparing to move to DC and begin a new life. What I never really bothered to mention was what I was leaving, in particular a job that I absolutely despised.
Like most just-out-of-school jobs, mine was crappy for normal reasons: a long-commute, low pay, little creative freedom, and post-academia life confusion. But, on top of that I had the meanest, most manipulative, self-absorbed, deluded psycho of a boss, who seemed to really enjoy making my life miserable. About a month before my departure (and no other job lined up at the time), we had a major blow-up after she mocked something I'd worked hard on. I told her that I absolutely hated coming to work everyday.
Now, a few years later, I realize that it was in part my immaturity that made my job so miserable. But, since leaving that organization, I've seen how my former boss continues to alienate and manipulate her way through her professional life. She and I are on mostly pleasant terms, and she even invites me to participate in some events together. As it turns out, I'm becoming an important player in the field, and I work for a powerful organization. She keeps me in the loop because she needs to. I keep her at a safe, but friendly arm's length if you know what I mean. I feel I'm too early in my career to be burning bridges, even if they're with people I'd rather not cross over to see.
But now, I'm not so sure. I got a truly hysterical email from my old boss, claiming financial ruin and begging for money--and that it was, of course, someone else's fault. As it turns out, the someone else is a dear colleague, and I couldn't believe that this was the whole story. More details have come out since then, and I am finding myself more and more upset that she's throwing this person under the bus. I don't know what is true and what is a lie, but she has stooped to an all-time low to benefit herself.
It's tough to be looped into all of this, and be in the midst of the noise of it all. She's blowing up Twitter, Facebook, the Internet with this stuff, and I just want nothing to do with it. Eventually, I decided to write her a short "I'm sorry" email and let it go. But her requests for money kept coming in, and I started to feel badly for her staff whose jobs are on the line. Finally, I sent her a small donation this morning just to have some peace of mind. It's tax-deductible, and it's money I could afford to give.
I feel a little better now. But most of all, I'm saddened by this implosion in our community. There aren't many people doing what we're doing, and to feel it crumbling apart from the inside is truly a sad thing. I'm just thankful I got out of there, and that for now, I have peace in my job.