What was that conversation plan I sketched out on the terrace today? Not in these words, but some of the following points. All of them are key, but only some are to be said. In no particular order.
1. On speaking directly: I want more of it (address the culture of rumors).
2. I have always felt constrained in everything I have done due to rumors. I feel constrained in conversation with you because of the assumptions you make about my views and goals.
3. Evaluate me as you wish but please do not base interaction with me on rumor.
4. “You are constantly reinventing yourself” is a result of rumors: I have always said the same things and had the same interests and projects; I can document that I did not lie in my job application or my tenure application; neither I am now attempting to manipulate or deceive you and there is no second intention behind any of my words.
5. It is a fact that I have had weak periods and then restarted. Restart is not reinvention. I have never changed my interests or goals.
6. I hope you can trust me.
7. I very much appreciate your comment about overwork and would like your support on what I am undertaking now.
I cannot believe I have to have this conversation, but I do. A point to be kept in mind, although not necessarily made, is that it was I who got all the internal and also certain external grant money, I who created the viable conditions for the new professors, I who held the line on a lot of other things, and I who paid the price of the two-phase departmental war (and note that I, having been the neutral party, am the only one left standing). Those things needed doing and I was asked; it was activity to say no to, but look WHO was asking and look WHAT the consequences of saying no were to be.
But this is another era, and I am taking another direction now, trust me and you will like it. [If I can put less energy toward watching my back and defending against rumors about my alleged intentions, and put all energy toward actual work, you will find everyone is happier.]
Also: please understand that although F. and I are using different anthologies, we really are teaching the same skills and having the same goals for the course we both teach. There really is not a problem.