Sunday, January 29, 2012

RBOC: First week pandemonium

I feel like it's bad form to just throw post after post of random bullets of crap on the blog, but there are times when you can't get it together to do more than note everything flying at your head.  (And then duck.)
  • I kind of feel like I will never again hear good news from Hometown.  This past week's bad news was so out of left field that I hardly knew how to process it.  I'm used to two or three different kinds of bad news from home, but I discovered a new kind this week.  Fuck.
  • I feel like I'm clicking into the brute survival mode that got me through my last semester of dissertation writing.  For months now, I've been laboring with the unhappy sensation that accomplishing everything that I have to do might kill me.  Somehow, I have transitioned into survival mode, which feels more like I am going to accomplish all this even if it kills me!  Once again, it is life during wartime.
  • This means that I suddenly feel more capable (because I have to be so), and therefore a little less tragically depressed.  I can actually laugh to myself, rather than cry at the fact that one of my students emailed me in confusion, upon learning that zi could not buy books at the library.  Just when you think you've heard it all...
Now, for the more positive bullet points:
  • My Pseudology of Area Studies course seems to be off to a good start.  I scared away a few students who admitted to themselves that this class wasn't for them, which means the total registration now stands at fourteen: excellent size for seminar-style discussions!  I rather suspect that almost none of my students will do the reading for the next session, even though I went to some lengths to point out that this stuff is heavy-duty.  (That was one of the scare tactics.)  I've accepted that most students need to feel some heat under their asses to start studying for real, so they will likely find out this week what it feels like to sit in dead silence, waiting for someone who actually read the piece to say something.  Like I told 'em, I can outwait them.  And if that doesn't tell them to study, the quiz they'll have to take this week should drive home the message.
  • I'm getting a little detached and less emotionally invested in the success of my students in Introduction to Pseudology.  This makes me happier.  Most students in that class take it to knock off a distribution requirement, and they don't really give a fuck.  I'm going to teach those classes, do them well, and not lose sleep about how they do.  I've made the syllabus easier than last time, and the tests are fucking jokes, so I rest easy in the knowledge that passing the course will be pretty easy.  Those who want to learn something for real will do so, and the rest should be able to slide by with little trouble.  I've made my peace with that.
  • I was planning to forego conferences for this year, since I was so wrung out (and broke!) from last fall's double-header.  But this morning, I got an email from a senior colleague inviting me to join hir panel, which zi and another colleague are organizing.  Both of them are heavy-hitters who have written crackerjack books that I have not only read but studied closely.  And the theme of the panel is on one of the big theoretical topics I've set myself to develop from my field research!  After catching my breath at the thought of how much money I'll have to spend to go to this year's Big Giant Pseudology Conference, I admitted to myself that I'd be a damn fool to pass up this invitation.  I'm psyched at the thought that I might get to sit on an invited panel alongside scholars I admire, and pleased (albeit a little scared) that this means that I must attack this paper with a lot more theoretical rigor than I devoted to the one I gave last year.  
  • Speaking of research as well as life during wartime, today is one year and a day after I began one of the strangest, scariest adventures of my life.  But an adventure it remained, for me, and led to some fondly remembered times with some old friends and some new friends — Shedding Khawatir and her husband foremost among the latter.  The whole business, as vexing as it can be to analyze professionally as a pseudologist, is going to shape my career for years to come.  Now that I listen to the song I keep name-checking, I'm a little stunned to recognize some lines as things that have actually happened to me.  The sound of gunfire off in the distance, I'm getting used to it now.  I've got some groceries, some peanut butter, should last a couple of days.  Trouble in transit, got through the roadblock, we blended in with the crowd.  I hope I make the best of all this.  I hope my friends back in Research Country do, too.  Al-sawra mustamirra, y'all.
This ain't no party; this ain't no disco; this ain't no foolin' around.  The war is on.

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