Thursday, November 22, 2012


I'm currently gritting my teeth and getting through another tough period in Hometown.  I'm feeling rather vitriolic and ungracious toward a number of people and things right now.  But, since it's Thanksgiving, I thought it would be worth reminding myself of a few people and things I'm actually thankful for.
  • I actually like my job.  
  • I actually like most of my students.
  • I really like my colleagues.
  • I have a job.  (Attending the Big Giant Pseudology Conference and meeting some old friends reminded me that some of my colleagues have never held a full-time academic job with health benefits.)  
  • My book contract.  'Nuff said.
  • The few people in my family who actually make my life easier, rather than harder.
  • My health.  Visiting Hometown reminds me of that pretty sharply.
  • My sanity.  See above.
  • My friends.
And so to bed.  Happy Thanksgiving, all.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

That time of year again

I am bleary-eyed and heavy-limbed right now, and can't go to sleep yet because I have clothes I need in the dryer.  I awoke on a little less than four hours' sleep this morning to give a test in Intro to Libel and Slander.  The insufficient hours of sleep were a product of my trying to finish (ha!) my conference paper last night.  Somehow, late this morning, I managed to hack out a full draft of the paper and email it to the discussant.  (This may be my all-time record: the furthest in advance I drafted a conference paper and sent it to the discussant.)  Then I put together a presentation for a colleague's class.  Then I dealt with some utterly insane unbloggable stuff. 

And now, after treating myself to dinner because the fridge is empty, I can start packing my suitcase as the laundry goes through the dryer cycle.  I have to rise at 5:00AM tomorrow, so it's gonna be an early night.  (If I know what's good for me.) 

Stay tuned for updates from the Big Giant Pseudology Conference!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

It's being a week

Two more elderly relatives back in Hometown died in the past week.  These were not sudden tragedies, at least; they were elderly and infirm people.  And, in the case of one, it was something of a mercy anyway.  But the mood of the phone calls to and from Hometown this week is distinctly downbeat.

More unbloggable stuff.  So it goes.  Sometimes there's nothing left to do but hold on.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Reading; and, refusing burdens

Moria has a great new post up at her place, observing that too much writing and not enough reading can lead to a discomfiting sense of distance and confusion about one's own material.  I'm feeling that hard right now, in fact.  I've been having one of those weeks in which I tried to re-work the journal article I'm revising now to serve as my conference paper at the Big Giant Pseudology Conference, and instead found that this is a futile endeavor: the one will not translate into the other.  Now that I've admitted that, I have about four and a half pages of talk drafted, with more soon to follow.  It's a good thing, too, because I am increasingly aware of how staggeringly ignorant I feel of my own subfield of pseudology – basically, I identify as a Damn Liar specializing in Research Country – at the moment.  A new Annual Review of Pseudology article came out covering the recent developments in my subfield, and it freaked me out to read through that and its bibliography and see all these pertinent, interesting-looking books and articles that I'd never fucking heard of.  I can honestly say that this didn't happen much to me three years ago, when I was writing my diss; there was little on either Damn Lies or Research Country that I hadn't read, and less that I hadn't heard of.  The volume of research published just in the last year blows my mind; how has this stuff not come to my attention before a freaking Annual Review article collated all of it?  And, of course, the thought immediately comes to me: I can't finish writing my book until I've read all this stuff!  Wrong, wrong, wrong, I know.  But it's kind of unsettling to me how quickly I can become ignorant of the latest work after just over a year of full-time teaching.  I may need to start typing reminders into my calendar to check the various journals for new articles.

*                *                  *                  *                  *                 *

Meanwhile, I'm having a moment of hesitation that would astonish Fie Upon This Quiet Life, given how vociferously I have argued in favor of being mercenary and self-interested as an early-career academic trying to climb the ranks.  A student of mine has asked if I would oversee hir independent study next semester, and I haven't actually said no yet.  Let me list the pros and cons:

  • Zi is whip-smart and fun to teach.
  • I have some specialized knowledge in short supply at CBU that makes me a more obvious candidate for the job than most other professors zi knows.  If I say no, then zi may be unable to pursue the independent study.
  • I feel unusually sympathetic toward this student, since zi has confided to me that zi has been having a difficult time due to some of the interpersonal politics of the university.
  • My specialized knowledge is still not ideal for the job, and I am sure that zi is asking partly because the prof who would be a natural is never around, wrapped up in other business.
  • While I am deeply sympathetic to the student's unhappiness, I also recognize that I cannot alter that situation, and if zi continues to rely on me as a confidante, I can do no more than be a friendly ear for hours at a time.  Seriously.  Zi could go on indefinitely, I fear.  Often when I have other work to do.
  • This is flatly NOT MY JOB.  No one is going to give me a course release for this independent study.  No one is going to give me a salary bump to compensate for the lost time.  And certainly no one else will do the supplemental research for my book while I'm mired in extra grading and advising.
  • For real, people, it's NOT MY JOB!  I'm a two-year hired gun here, albeit kindly treated and more or less a full voting member of the department.  I refuse to be burdened like a pack mule without either concomitant job security or financial compensation.
  • And finally, as cruel as it sounds, it's just not my job.  The student isn't even a pseudology major; zi is just taking a course with me.  Someone from Stu's own department really needs to be stepping up to the plate to advise hir, instead of letting hir cast about like this.
Really, I suppose my mind is made up, and I'm just stalling on sending an email disappointing a favorite student.  Sigh.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

RBOC: I'm drunk right now

  • Pouring equal parts bourbon and Vernor's ginger ale over ice yields one potent fucking drink.  I'm sipping on my second one now, and I'm already kinda lit.
  • I have achieved this week what has seemed nigh-impossible of late: I have managed to cook my own lunch to bring to work for the entire week.  Usually, I drop the ball on either Monday or Wednesday evening, in preparation for the fucking Intro to Libel and Slander course.  Today, though, I stopped by the grocery store in Tinytown to see if the offerings were any better than at the grocery store in the painfully anonymous suburb in which I live, and found not only some handsome bulbs of garlic, but also a 3 for $5 special on bunches of fresh basil leaves.  I am inordinately proud of myself that I have a travel pack of 3-cheese tortellini and basil-spiked tomato sauce ready to tote to work tomorrow morning.
  • To explain the above, I am slowly deducing that Tinytown, despite its diminutive size and relative isolation, has a better grocery store than my anonymous suburb.  (Lest you think I'm kidding about the anonymity, I checked: there are towns with the same name as my suburb in more than a quarter of the United States.)  The high proportion of over-educated (and, one might even say, snooty) CBU professors seems to have impelled the grocery store to carry a decent selection of fresh vegetables and herbs, including an impressive number of organically grown produce for a town in which almost everyone I see in a car seems to be smoking and/or advertising their membership in the National Rifle Association.  When I confirmed that the basil wasn't on special because it was about to expire, I jumped on the deal.  I may give up shopping at my local grocery store entirely, if I can buy better-quality produce in Tinytown right on my route from work to home.  (Especially since my local stopped carrying Soyrizo.  Motherfuckers.)
  • Life back in Hometown kind of sucks right now.  I'd be a lot more sober right now if I didn't have to dread going back to Hometown in a few weeks' time.  I've heard enough bad news since Monday to last me for quite a while.
  • Oh, hey!  Did I mention that I'll be flying to Hometown from Cornstate a mere 36 hours after I return to Cornstate from the Big Giant Pseudology Conference?  Or that I have a conference paper to write for said conference that I have only drafted in rough form?  Or that I'm (tremble) going to spend an entire (godawful) week in Hometown before I can escape back to Cornstate?  Or that the World is Ending during my visit?  (Okay, that last part doesn't really apply to anyone except me and perhaps one or two other close relatives.)
  • Spanish Prof suggested months ago that she and Fie Upon This Quiet Life and I all get shitfaced together at an opportune moment.  Has she acted upon this suggestion yet?  Nooooooooo.  In fairness, however, she herself observed that she was "drunk as hell" when she said that.  I choose to live in hope.  And, at the moment, in hiccups.