A Different Kind of Pie

Posted by Chrisi

Have you ever had your heart broken? I mean really broken? Have you been in a relationship where you gave it your all and it wasn’t enough… for reasons beyond your control, and completely unknown to you?  I have. And it hurts like hell. It’s hard, seemingly impossible, to recover. But I did… because of pie.

In March of 2009 (you would think that I would remember the exact date), I was denied tenure at a little known University in Orange County, CA.  For seven years, I gave this University everything. I taught my heart out (and won a teaching award).  I wrote grants (with a 60% success rate) and I published (5 papers, total).  But, in the 11th hour, after glowing external reviews and the support of my colleagues in science, the “worst” thing that could have happened did… and I will never really know why.  I was given a severance package. I agreed not to sue.  I moved on.

Fortunately, my academic record spoke for itself and I received four job offers—all at universities better known and higher ranked than from whence I came.  This, of course, was some vindication.  But there was still a hole in my heart… a big one.  I won’t go in the gory details… it isn’t necessary.  I’ll just say that I never thought that I could love, or would love, a University or a department like the one that I was forced to leave behind.  Like a scorned lover, I vowed “never again.” I vowed to remain guarded.  I thought, “I’ll do my job (and do it well) but I will do it with detachment. I will never make that emotional investment again.”  I succeeded… for an entire semester.

What changed? I met 34 amazing students—students who encouraged me and welcomed me… and pied me on Friday, April  15th (a date that IS worth remembering).  Unexpectedly, I fell in love again.


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