Thursday, January 27, 2011

It will be live

Holy current events!  There's, um, way, way too much going on now to keep on top of it all.  Contradictory reports, counter-intuitive experiences, and counter-something else to complete my little troika.  My internet access is now as ephemeral as gossamer, so I'm posting this while I have the chance.  (Took me a while to run down the links, let me tell you!)  Ten songs declaring some of my welter of feelings about Research City now follow.

10. Everything Is Broken (I can't find Bob Dylan singing it, and I refuse to link to bad cover versions!)
9. Dump The Bosses Off Your Back
8. Let The Bad Air Out
7. Mass Romantic
6. If I Had My Way
5. You Can Make It If You Try
4. It's The End Of The World As We Know It
3. Burning Down The House
2. The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
1. How's It Gonna End?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I'm so tired today.  I've spent the last few days booking it around Research City, going hither and yon in pursuit of maintaining some relationships and starting up others.  Long, hard days, although fun as well.  Today, since there are some deadlines looming, I feel obliged to stay put at home, as much as this makes me feel a little stir-crazy, so I can write a few job applications.  My field notes are days overdue, because so goddamn much happened worth writing about in the last few days, but I've been unable to focus on them because I had that big interview recently that monopolized my attention.  Hell, I couldn't even think seriously about the new job apps until now.  I can tell I'm getting worn down when a day spent doing nothing but writing, eating, showering, doing laundry, and reading blogs needs an entire second pot of coffee to keep me from falling asleep in the afternoon.

Perhaps I'll go to bed early tonight.  If I get that next job app done.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting better all the time

If nothing else, I think I'm getting better with practice at interviewing.  I am now sadly aware of just how amateurish and unready for prime time I must have seemed in my earlier interviews.  On the plus side, I feel like I rocked the fuck out on my short-list interview.  I was prepared, I anticipated nearly every question they threw at me, I had worthwhile questions to give them, I had thought about research and pedagogical implications of living and working in Distant Place — I was on.  Of course, with a little time to reflect on the interview after the fact, I worry that I might have seemed a little too eager to please in some ways, although I never went into ass-kissing territory or anything.  In any case, even if that worry is justified, I still think I did better than on any previous interview.

It's something of a cold shower to intone to myself now that I probably won't get that job, and I should keep plowing on with other applications.  It's hard to maintain that Zen-like remove when you really, really want to get a job.

I think I'm going to try to work on my sangfroid and inner calm by making a curry.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Conference calculus

So, as suggested by Ajnabieh, I'm giving a bit of thought to how we (I) figure out which conferences to attend and why, in any given academic year.  (Never mind the little, one-off things that our friends put together and invite us to do.)  At the moment, there are three major annual conferences on my radar screen:
  1. Major Pseudology Conference.  This is the ginormous, overstuffed, pan-Pseudology conference that almost everyone hates, everyone badmouths, and everyone attends anyway.  Given my disciplinary training and expertise, this is the conference most likely to generate prelim interviews for me.  I'm in several smaller interest groups within the umbrella of the larger organization, which have their own little meetings during the big MPC, during which I have to be quiet, applaud at the right moments, and try not to embarrass myself in front of people who could hire me in a year or two.  (Already failed at that effort, I fear.)  On a better note, there are always lots of old grad school friends there, and it's good to catch up with them.
  2. Area Studies Conference.  This is relatively large, too, but not like the 800-pound gorilla that MPC feels like in practice.  Pseudologists make up a comparatively small percentage of the membership, most of which comes from other social science and humanities disciplines.  This, naturally, is reflected in the hiring opportunities that articulate themselves around the conference.  Essentially, after having scouted things out, I have concluded that ASC is probably a waste of time if I'm single-mindedly focused on getting a job.  It is, however, useful for publicizing my work to colleagues in other disciplines who don't read Pseudology journals.  And, for that matter, it can open doors to publishing opportunities in the journals that maintain a high profile at ASC.  As I somewhat hazily recall, there are also some fine opportunities for late-night bull sessions at the hotel bars.  ASC people can drink, that's for sure.  A fair number of grad school friends here, too, but not as many as at MPC.
  3. Secondary Disciplinary Interest Conference.  I joined SDIC a year ago specifically to expand my access to timely job postings, which are often reserved for dues-paying members.  I've never even seriously considered going to SDIC, since money, time, and utility were all concerns in previous years.
This is where things start to get unsettled for young and itinerant pseudologists, since, depending on the nature of our work, we can keep adding SDICs at an alarming rate.  Pretty much everyone under the sun goes to MPC, and most people tend to have an appropriate ASC that they'll check in on every other year or so.  But beyond those virtually inevitable conferences, we can also seek out smaller conferences dedicated to narrower research interests.  Aside from the costliness of joining so many SDICs, it presents some confusion in choosing where to focus our efforts.  We're all interested in four or five or six discrete topics all at once, any one of which could bear professional-development fruit.  You all know what membership and registration fees are like.  Who wants to pay all that for five different organizations when one isn't even freaking employed anywhere yet?

More to the point, I don't know anyone with the money, the time, and the energy to keep up with that many conferences.  You know you can't do all of them each year, so you start thinking that you shouldn't bother with some of them at all.  And yet, what if that conference you're thinking of ditching is The One Conference?

I think you get the idea.  At the moment, I have confined myself to a single SDIC, although to date I've never even gone: I just pay dues and get the associated journal.  Frankly, I was beginning to think that I should bag SDIC altogether and concentrate my attention on MPC and ASC, even though it's almost impossible to do both of those latter ones in the same year.  (They're practically on top of each other for timing, and yet somehow never in the same city.)  SDIC, since it has to date yielded me nothing but slightly easier access to some journal articles I probably could have acquired elsewhere without much trouble, seems uncomfortably like a vanity membership — kind of like padding the CV.

EXCEPT...the newest wrinkle for me is that the short-list interview I've just landed is for a position firmly situated within the purview of SDI, rather than Pseudology proper.  I know: crazy, right?  My mind needs to be in five places at once just to handle all of it.  Since this is the single best lead I have on a job right now, I don't dare discount SDIC.  Indeed, if I get this job, then I would think that I'd be expected to go to SDIC on a regular basis, perhaps even more frequently than I would go to MPC.  Weird.

So anyway, those are my three, and my current mercenary thinking about each one.  How do you good people all run this calculus?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Actual good news


I'm all but running around my living room in excitement!  In fact, the interview will kinda-sorta take place in my living room: since I'm way the hell out in Research Country, it's a lot more cost-effective to do this through Skype.  Does this mean I still need to wear a suit and tie?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Nomad to the conferences

Well, this is a new one for me: I don't know how to plan for this year's academic conferences, because I have no idea where on earth I will be when they are held.  In previous years, I've had to contend with financial obstacles and the occasional concern of "what paper am I going to give to justify my schmoozing?"  I didn't quite realize until faced with the calls for papers and the emails about conference dates that, since I don't know where I will physically be, I cannot yet buy a plane ticket.  And if I can't buy a ticket, I can't guarantee that I will be able to attend.

And to think that I was worried before about figuring which of my disciplinary conferences to attend!  (There are three big-time conferences that are obvious contenders in any given year.)  Never mind negotiating the overlapping dates; what about determining what continent I will be living on?

Yet another reason to wish that I had something lined up for this coming year.  Perhaps this is my cue to go back to work on my job apps.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Don't let your students make porn

Thanks for all the good wishes, gang.  We'll see how things develop here in Research City.

Meanwhile, let us distract ourselves with one of the more bizarre cases I've encountered of professors being blamed for no good reason: a Turkish film student with a really dumb chip on his shoulder made a pornographic film for his dissertation, which led to his professors being fired.  What cracks me up and horrifies me at the same time is that the profs clearly did everything in their power to prevent him from doing this in the first place.  First, they warned him that he had to have, you know, an idea to explore that could justify doing something so self-aggrandizing and sensationalistic.  Second, when the jackass went ahead and made his porno anyway – without, it appears, any critical engagement – his committee failed the project.  (Hey, they warned him!) 

And then the jackass gave an interview in small-minded, petty, undeserved retribution explaining why he acted on such a stupid impulse.  In reaction, as it appears, the government leaned on the university to think of the children! suck up to religious conservatives! do something, which translated into "fire everyone who tried their best to keep a problem student in line."  Now, adding insult to injury, the profs are being investigated by the police, which may be just to make the police feel better, since the person they'd really like to arrest has gone into hiding.  And, for good measure, "the entire Communications Faculty has been shut down."  

At least no one overreacted. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Down in the mouth

The title is a drastic understatement, but I dislike overly dramatic blog post titles.  The new year got off to a craptastic start in Research Country, due to some truly horrible events.  Like really horrible, senselessly violent, depressing-about-the-state-of-humanity.  You've probably read about it, for that matter.  It's a bad fucking scene, and a lot of my friends here in Research City are, for very good reason, freaked out.

I'm trying to stay chipper and focused on my research, but it's a little tough when so many of my colleagues and friends are walking around with hang-dog faces, speaking in unusually quiet voices, and are obviously grieving and angry.  I want to give them all a hug and tell them it will be all right, but they wouldn't believe me anyway.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Don't come the cowboy

For some totally unaccountable reason, I woke up with this song in my head this morning, and it's been there ever since.  Makes a strange musical accompaniment to reading theory, but it seems to be working so far.  Perhaps others might enjoy the experience?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Enter 2011

Now that I'm no longer in grad school and can experiment in various ways with living like a normal human being, I go to return to the classic form for New Year's Eve: instead of going to bed early and rising early to write – which, I suppose, might have been useful – I honored tradition by going to a friend's get-together, drinking and eating and drinking and drinking for motherfucking hours, and having fun.  (Although I will admit that 'fun' in this case actually involved a heavy load of shop talk with said friend.)  I don't know how I managed it when I never even had a second cup of coffee yesterday, but I got to my friend's house at 7:30 last night, and rolled outta there at 6:30AM today.  The memory is hazy, but I believe that the assembled guests went through at least four, and perhaps five bottles of wine, and a number of beers as well.  (Thank heavens we had the vestigial restraint to avoid the hard liquor!)  In spite of all this, and the paltry three hours of sleep I got before rising late this morning (sigh), I only had a mild hangover today.  Granted, I still have it, but at least it's not debilitating.  No mean feat when your friend is egging you constantly: "Hey, your glass is empty!  Let's finish this bottle and then move to something else!  Come on, you've gotta keep up!"  As I noted to hir at the time, I'm slightly amazed that we're really no more mature than we were lo those many years ago when we first started hanging out.  And zi is still a bad influence on me, although at least I'm aware of it now, and can put the brakes on when necessary.

I decided that I'm within my rights to spend January 1 schlepping around my apartment in my pajamas, unshowered and unshaven, doodling on the internet and accomplishing nothing useful.  I'll go back to being a responsible young postdoctoral scholar tomorrow.

Happy new year, all!