Sunday, November 24, 2013

My worst self

I am back from the Big Giant Pseudology Conference, slumped in my home office chair.  I'm worn out after so much conferencing.  This year's BGPC was relatively successful, I think, especially in terms of schmoozing with colleagues.  And, of course, it was tonic to see old friends.

At the same time, I feel dissatisfied, and I think I'm the one to blame, for the most part.  I've been developing an awareness of how stressed I feel for most of BGPC, especially as it comes across to my old friends and colleagues when they ask how I'm doing.  Put bluntly, I fear that attending BGPC invokes my worst self: the anxious, self-conscious, permanently unhappy and self-loathing person who perpetually gripes about having a book but no tenure-track job, having no family, and generally being a miserable little storm cloud.

I admit that readers of this blog who do not know me in the meat world may suspect that this is who I am, but I swear to you that I'm really not (quite) that insufferable anhedonic person.  When I roll into BGPC, though, I become acutely aware of the comparisons and judgments that potential colleagues could be making about me.  This year, I learned that many of my colleagues from DOU have landed tenure-track jobs.  People are having children, cranking out articles, producing books, getting fancy jobs — often two or three of these at the same time.  And here I am, all by my lonesome, happy to have my book but daunted by the prospect of producing articles at the same time while being weighed down by my teaching obligations, and increasingly fearful of what may come to pass next year.

I worry that I'm beginning to smell of flop sweat to my colleagues.

I would like to share in my friends' optimism that my book surely will land me a job.  Really, I would.  But I remember people saying basically the same thing to me years ago, when I was fresh out of Research Country with splashy cachet, but with no serious teaching experience.  Or last year, when I had just gotten the book contract.  And it's only when I'm at BGPC catching up with people that I hear second- or third-hand that Whatshisface or Whatshername got an interview at some school or other that I applied to, thus clueing me into my inability to get anywhere with jobs I hoped would at least grant me a prelim interview.  It's difficult not to look bitter and disappointed.  And afraid.

It's also hard not to wonder what I did or am doing wrong, in comparison to my erstwhile classmates at DOU.  Was it my lazy, uninterested supervisor?  My lack of sexy subfield?  My general nuts-and-bolts approach to pseudology, rather than the high-theory approach?

Or, despite my forthcoming book and my dogged attempts to remain employed, am I just not that good?

Honestly, how does one put a good face on this internal turmoil?

ETA: I sincerely hope none of my pseudology colleagues reads this blog, but if any of them does, then I feel bad enough about my attitude to apologize for being a dick this year.  I didn't want to be or mean to be, I promise.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The (underemployed) authority

I ended up having a decent time at Secondary Disciplinary Interest Conference. (Many meals shared with old friends helped considerably.). In fact, I even had some professional fun: I made sure that my panel chair introduced me as the author of Forthcoming Book, and damned if people didn't treat me like an expert in the field. They seemed to address me in slightly more measured tones, and a number of the grad students there - many of them older than I - were actually obsequious. People came up to me later asking my advice on how to get a book published. (!!!)  I was stunned.

More importantly (I think), I attended the business meeting for my designated interest section, which let me introduce myself to nearly every colleague there who works in SDI. A whole bunch of them showed up two days later to hear my talk. I know this because the heavy hitter on our panel was the first speaker: when zi finished, a number of people quickly departed for other panels, but the movers and shakers all stayed on for the entirety of the panel. I feel that I have made a proper debut at SDIC. :D

I've spent the last few days de-stressing and, to the extent that I can be bothered to think about it, my job. Now, however, I am on the road again, taking breakfast at one of the generic "family restaurants" by the highway before heading out to Great Big City for the Big Giant Pseudology Conference. Pseudologists are way harder to impress than my SDI colleagues, so I can't get a swelled head unless/until I pull off the same trick twice. Wish me luck!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Grumpy conference-goer

I haven't posted in the last few weeks because I've just been worn out.  My teaching schedule is hectic with evaluative assignments and planning right now, I had several conferences to prepare for, and I'm beginning to get that yearly anxiety about what may or may not happen with the job market.  All told, I've just been dog-tired at the end of every day, and not much into communicating.  Grump.

Now I'm at the first of my two conferences this season, Secondary Disciplinary Interest Conference.  SDIC is new to me, and I know very few people who will be in attendance.  I am currently huddling in fear relaxing in my hotel room right now, typing this post, rather than mingle half-heartedly with total strangers whose work does not interest me.  I already ran into a former classmate, and one actual friend, which was nice.  But beyond that, I'm kind of waiting for my pal who organized my panel to get to town so we can catch up.  Zi just moved to an expensive new address, and zi and hir spouse are still paying off moving debts, and I have travel funds from CBU, so I've promised to treat hir to a nice dinner so we can trade stories properly, with food and wine.

Also, the first talk I went to kind of sucked.  (No big shock, I know.)  What dampened my mood more was going to a second talk by one of my professor acquaintances from DOU and discovering that zi had to withdraw from the conference for some reason.  Sigh.

Writing this stuff down brings into focus for me just how much I cherish conferences as a way to catch up with old friends long separated by distance, and how little of a damn I give about any other aspect.  (Especially when, as is the case at SDIC, I'm only tangentially in the orbit of their job market.)  Guess I'll go get lunch.  By myself.  Grump.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

RBOC: Cooking, jobs, and great music

  • I nearly asphyxiated myself on smoke whilst practicing my skills at pan-searing steak.  Even with my oven hood roaring and the windows open, I don't think my apartment has enough ventilation to make searing a practical option.  I would love to hear from readers about other good methods for cooking a nice steak medium rare.  I know the ultimate method is to grill it, but I don't own a grill, and don't want to buy one until I know where I'm living long-term.  Am I kidding myself, or can I make this work without a grill?
  • I'm going to try out a spontaneous and improvised red wine-cream-tomato sauce tonight, if I don't lose my nerve.  It's largely motivated by my cheapness: earlier in the week, I opened a bottle of what turned out to be an undistinguished tempranillo, and even though I don't consider it more than barely passable as a beverage, I hate to throw it out.  I throw out really bad or ruined wine, but feel bad about doing that with something that could be useful in the kitchen.  Since I already have some cream on hand, I'm curious to see if I can work out a darker, richer tomato-cream sauce than the usual.  Wish me luck, or offer your own variations on this in the comments!  
  • (No white wine ideas, though, please: now that the weather is getting chilly, there will likely be no white wine at chez Koshary until April or May.)
  • I have mixed feelings about passing the 1st of November as a job applicant.  On the one hand, it's nice to have sent in that crapton of applications in timely fashion.  (Many pseudology job apps were due by then.)  On the other hand, it now means that I hardly see anything else to apply to, when I scope out the job postings at my various professional association websites.  The t-t jobs will mostly dry up from this point, and be replaced by the limited-term contract jobs that I've been subsisting on for the last few years.  Sigh.
  • But: first tiny nibble of interest from one of the jobs I applied to!  Here's hoping that it's the pebble that triggers an avalanche!
  • This: