Thursday, February 28, 2008

We're Just Going to Assume that This is Okay

After several long and incoherent conversations with the ticket people, I am confirmed on a flight out tonight (instead of the tomorrow morning flight they wanted to put me on.)

I just got the confirmed itinerary that I requested, and I am not only confirmed on the new flight, but apparently on the flight that's leaving, oh, right now, and that I was moved off of.

I *then* got a receipt with price information for the new flight (it's about the same, if not exactly the same, as the original price).

So I thought about calling back to confirm that a) I am not actually confirmed on two flights to Other Side, and b) that I am not expected to pay for Booking # 2.

But then I thought, "You know? I've spent a long time on hold today."

And then, "What if they tell me that I need to pay for the new flight? Of course I won't do it. I'll yell at them and risk not making it out of here at all."

So I concluded, "Far better to just show up at the airport and then, if they somehow try to make me pay (and how would they do that?), refuse."

Finally, "I'm surely just being hyper conscientious here, and there's no chance they're actually going to try to bill me for a rebooked flight when they're the ones who screwed me over in the first place."

Because the airline industry is fuzzy like that.

Right?

I Hate Airlines.

Not only have I been delayed at some point during virtually every flight that I've taken in the past year, but this morning I got out of the shower to find a message from the discount ticket company informing me that my flight today has been canceled. Well, one leg of it has. A short leg. But there's nothing they can do.

I was able, after a long time on hold, to get rebooked (or partially rebooked--I need to call back in a few hours) on a flight out tonight. But that means that instead of arriving on Friday afternoon, when the Boyfriend can conveniently pick me up and it'll only be a few hours until I can go to bed, I arrive at 5:30 in the goddamned morning on Saturday. So he'll have to get up at an ungodly hour to fetch me, our plans for that day are shot, and I'll spend my first full day in Exciting City totally jetlagged.

Plus it means that I have to go an extra 14 hours without seeing him, and I haven't seen him in two months and this sucks.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

I Will Not Kill Myself with Grading

But I will come close.

I leave for the Other Side of the World tomorrow, and this week I received 85 midterm papers (give or take a few). The goal is to get through as many as I possibly can tonight so that I can spend the bulk of my 14-hour flights relaxing with novels, knitting, movies, and the inane little games that you can play via the movie consoles. Go spring break!

I may post more substantively here later on tonight; it's been a while since I said much of anything, hasn't it? But if I don't, well, I'll let you know when I get back. I'm not taking my laptop with me, and 10 days sans computer will be good for both me and the laptop, I think!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Why I Am Drinking a Beer at 5:15, Even Though I Have to Go Back to Campus Tonight and Have A Lot of Grading to Do

1. Today I got a "rejection that is not a rejection" from Dream U. Goodbye, Dream. There will be others.

(May I also interject here a request to search committees? When you reject a person, reject her. None of this "Our search is completed! I'll bet your search is going well, too!" nonsense. Seriously. Dream U was absolutely splendiferous in all aspects of the process saving this one, so I'm really not too bothered by it and I think it just comes from an exaggerated anxiety about upsetting people--a misplaced courtesy, in fact--but it's not the first such letter I've received and I don't relish having to reread rejection letters two or even three times to figure out what the hell they're saying to me. It doesn't cushion the blow.)

2. People were crying in this afternoon's faculty meeting. Crying. Obviously I can't and won't talk about why--and honestly I haven't been here long enough to know what the real deal is--but suffice to say that there is Drama. And I will be accepting the Field offer in the next two days, so. The Drama will soon be mine.

3. In the last three days, I wrote up extensive comments on 47 drafts (10 to go!) and conferred with 18 students (2 to go!). So there's cause for celebration + lobotomy.

4. Hey! I have a job! It's almost official! So, in spite of everything, I get to have a small mid-week celebration. Right?

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

We Interrupt This Grading to Bring You a Picture of Shoes

I bought these! They are lovely.


I guess that should be a question: Aren't they lovely?

It is, of course, far too cold to wear them, but the weather will get warmer eventually. Or so I have read.

Back to the grading mines I go. At least they've fixed the music down there; we've currently got a bit of an Erasure thing going. Nothing like Andy Bell for correcting semi-colons.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Sunday Sunday

This weekend's lists:

DONE:
  • graded batch of 55 short papers for comp (should have been 57; 2 are missing)
  • read for tomorrow's class
  • cleaned apartment
TO DO:
  • grade batch of 18 responses from survey (should be 25; what happened?)
  • prep for tomorrow's class
  • finish reading play for independent study
  • swim
This is all quite doable, although I'm not sure I can stomach the grading. I might put it off until next weekend. For--tomorrow I get comp drafts! And have to comment on all 57 of them by Friday!

I fear that blogging this semester will be naught but one long grading whine. Bear with me, please. *Sigh.*

Friday, February 15, 2008

Memoriam

I don't know what to say about the NIU shootings, except that they were horrible, and I'm frightened by the recurrence of such incidents in this country.

A student on our campus was directly affected by the shootings--one of his close friends was killed--and seeing him at today's memorial service, surrounded and held by the other students, made everything terribly vivid.

Again, there's nothing I can say. I'm at a loss. This is awful, and I don't understand why it keeps on happening.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Job Search Update

I know what you're all thinking. You're thinking, "Heu! What the hell? You never tell us anything about your job search! In fact, are you even on the market?"

Well, grieve no more, for here's the current state of things.

Field College has made me a tenure-track offer. I've hemmed and hawed about whether I would take this offer, should it be made, and decided that yes, I would--unless Dream U (still silent) comes through. So I'm feeling moderately good about this offer. It means that they like me; it means health insurance; it means the most minuscule salary hike in history, but oh well. Maybe I'll get an office with a window once I'm on the t-t.

Meanwhile, I have emailed DU to let them know what my situation is and to (re-)express my deep and abiding interest in their institution.

I've also had a conversation with the other u's search chair. I was pretty nervous going into this conversation, as I was afraid that her advice/impressions re. my interview skilz would be less than flattering. But honestly? It was really helpful, both practically and psychologically. One of the things that swayed the committee against me was something that I suspected had been a problem--sort of an intellectual-fit issue, which I didn't help by not answering a couple of questions particularly well (and I was aware of this as the words were coming out of my mouth, unfortunately)--and the other was an easily-fixable issue regarding how I present my professional range. Finally, though, the major deciding factor was my relative lack of experience. The winning candidate has been out longer and has accordingly more teaching and publications. So...that's it. No big deal. My degree will only get older; with luck, I'll go on to teach and publish more, and then I'll be the annoyingly experienced candidate who bumps other people out of the running.

So it's not that I'm a dismal interviewee, or have horrendous interpersonal skills, or whatever--it's all stuff that I can address or that the passage of time will address for me.

In short: I feel better this week. Much better. And while life might not become perfect for a little while longer, that doesn't mean that I'll never get where I want to be. As a friend reminded me this afternoon, "Academic careers are really long."

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Wine + Britney + Revision = Happy

It's 38 minutes to midnight on a Saturday; I've had a couple of glasses of wine but am not drunk; "Toxic" is on the iPod; and I'm revising the intro to my dissertation. Weird combinations can yield positive results. This feels good: I need to get back to work.

Last week was kind of an emotional maelstrom, for a lot of reasons, most of which you know. But this weekend is bringing some peace. Life is better this semester, in a lot of ways that would likely continue to improve if I were to stick around for a bit longer (e.g. I have a friend or two), even if TB is too far away for my taste (but I just bought my spring break ticket to the Other Side of the World, hooray!). But above all, I need to do my work.

Right. Like that thing on the blog header says. Do thi werk, eh? Maybe the 14th-c. spelling threw me off.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

For the Sake of Accuracy

I should rename this blog "The Grading Mill."

But I won't.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Filler Post

All right, I need to knock that self-indulgent moping down a little further on the blog. So, uh...hm...what else can I write about?

Well, my friend/colleague's wife (also a friend, or friend-ish; we're still getting to know each other, but I like her a lot) gave me a lift to the big discount grocery store in nearby mid-sized city this afternoon. I'd been there once before, and it's amazing--I buy preposterous and unlikely (for me) things, like cake mix, because my god the cake mix is FORTY-NINE CENTS! I mean, how could I not. I also purchased a jar of baby corn, like eight pounds of nuts, two big boxes of Texas Toast (an embarrassing addiction), and more other stuff than I could possibly eat in a semester.

As always, though, grocery shopping has put me out of the mood for cooking, so I might just have spaghetti for dinner. With Texas Toast, natch.

What else? OH! Here's a question for the academic blogosphere, particularly those more experienced teachers out there. What do you do when you overhear, during a group activity, a student say something that is patently offensive (although s/he probably doesn't realize it)? I shall give you the scenario.

Student 1: Hey, did you hear what [Friend of Student] said? He hopes that Obama gets elected so he can get capped.

Student 2: Ha ha, yeah, in, like, a drive-by.

I think it's safe to say that I was appalled. But I'm pretty sure that these students didn't see or at least understand the racist implications of their statements, and I couldn't think of how I could possibly broach the subject. I'm pretty sure that they didn't think I'd overheard, for one thing, so it would have been a little weird for me to swoop in there and call them out. (The group was mostly on-topic, so I couldn't legitimately bust them for a moment's deviation.)

This is, of course, offensive for a lot of reasons, racist overtones being just the top of the list. How would you, o teachers more experienced than I, respond to this? Would you respond at all?

But, okay, not going to make this a downer-post--no, it's Friday night, and despite the HORRIFYING stack of grading that's been building up over the last few days, I will not go down that path. No. So here are a couple of good things.
  • My friend/colleague--the one whose wife drove me to the grocery store--just got a great job offer this evening. I'm really happy for him (envy notwithstanding! go altruism!) because he absolutely deserves it, and it'll be a terrific opportunity for both him and his wife. Yay!
  • I'm having a drink with a different friend/colleague later on tonight.
  • I had an odd moment with a student after class this morning that makes me think that some of his/her behaviors that I'd interpreted as aggressive actually might come out of a much more vulnerable place, and that s/he might actually think of me...how do I put this...not as an adversary, but as a positive presence in his/her life. It was startling and strangely touching.
  • I love my survey class. LOVE it. Even though it's out of my field. I'm loving the readings (which I hadn't read in years, and in some case had never read before); the class itself is full of hilarious and lively characters; and its being my last class of the day means that, by the time it rolls around every MWF, I'm punchy and entertaining.
Well, I had a lot more senseless rambling in me than I thought. Now, about that spaghetti....

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not Looking Good

I'm getting used to the idea of becoming resigned. No Dream U for me. There hasn't been word either way, so "who knows what might happen," but realistically? It's getting to be a little late in the week.

All is not lost. Other possibilities in the works.
But none are quite so exciting.
And..........it was such a good year for medievalists.
And yet I didn't....................

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Like a man

Well then! I don't know about the rest of you, but nothing cheers me up like a vaguely offensive form letter from my alma mater.

It starts out well enough, addressing me by my full-on pedigreed title. Of course, they're the ones who awarded me said title, so they should know. "Dear Dr. Mihi," it begins. Blah blah--offering services--blah blah. Sentence 2 is where it gets interesting:

"We recognize that--like a man--a woman needs life insurance."

Oh! Like a man, you say? Why, that makes it all the clearer! Thank you for recognizing that! Hey! You recognize that women, too, might have people to support? People like--as you make clear in the next sentence--a husband, parents, or kids. Maybe even other relatives. And that life insurance is one way for a woman to "keep the home that she's made" with these family members? Huzzah! How enlightened!

I realize that this letter might be seeking to address real issues; it wouldn't surprise me if women were statistically less likely to get life insurance, or whatever. But know your audience, people. This is from a seriously liberal doctoral-granting institution; feminism is hardly dead on this campus. Certainly not among its doctoral students. And even when addressing less-feminist women, do you need that "like a man" in there? Can't you just say that women need life insurance? Or something?

I may be overquick to judge. But really. This letter cracked me up. Like a man! I'm going to be using that all week. But that's enough blogging for today. For--like a man--I need to eat my dinner.

Ah, there you are, old friend!

And the old friend--let's be clear--is that omnipresent job-search sidekick, Self-Pity.

Yep, I've started skulking on down that thoroughly unpleasant path. I got a post-campus-visit rejection today. Not from the Dream Uni, but from the other one (visit no. 2), which I liked and thought seemed like a great job but where I didn't get that real sense of fit--so no, this isn't a devastating rejection, but it's still disheartening. It's disheartening because it reminded me of what it feels like: that sudden drop in the stomach, the evaporation of a particular set of daydreams, the clipping-off of one possible path that the future could take. Nope. I'm not moving there. Those will not be my colleagues. That isn't my office.

It also signaled the dramatic reduction of my chances of getting an offer from either place. Weirdly enough, if the selection process were totally random, my odds of getting one or both of these two jobs would be 5/9. Two jobs, three candidates--5 to 9 odds that I'd get something out of that. No, it doesn't seem like that should be right, but there it is; probability makes absolutely no sense. So now that I don't have one of the jobs, my chances have slipped back to 1/3. Right? Or is it still 5/9, only...no, wait, that can't be right. And of course this is pretending that the selection process is totally random, which it isn't. I could be a secretly toxic candidate. I could be juvenile and naive and admit way too much about myself too soon. Was I too forward? Am I too comfortable with my own shortcomings? Was that comment that I made about my hair taken as a sign of frivolity? Did anyone notice when I dropped that glob of hummus at the dinner? Oh dear God. Oh God. I want to crawl up under an afghan and weep. I want to crack into that bottle of bourbon over there. I don't want to grade, I don't want to prep two classes and a teaching demo, and what's this about a mandatory campus event tomorrow afternoon? I need to hide. I'm inept, I'm absurd, every hope has been dashed--dashed, I tell you.

See? This is what happens. This is what that damned rejection has done to me.

And oh yes, I remember it well. I remember last year, when I actively avoided junior faculty at my grad uni because of course they got fabulous jobs at GradU when they were ABD, and while I'm sure that their queries into my job search situation were wholly sympathetic, I was too bitter and wrecked by my failure to even get myself a campus visit to even look at such people. Oh yes. I remember all of this--the anger I felt at ABDs who got tenure-track jobs, the startling depths of my jealousy. It all passed, of course. It usually passed pretty quickly, like within 24 hours of each major disappointment, but when it was there, it was there. And I don't want to swim in those waters again.

But. It did pass, every time. And I know that disappointment is only disappointment, and I can handle it. It's just that awful feeling--that wrench, that deep desire to withdraw and hide and close oneself off from everything else until one has adjusted to the new bad news and everything is okay again--that's not something that I want. And I'm afraid that, by the end of the week, I'll have to absorb the fact that Heavenly U doesn't want me, and all that background hoping and wanting and imagining what I could do there will have to be abandoned, forever, and I'll fall back down to the dusty reality of not having found my job just yet.

Or, if not forever, at least until next year's JIL comes out.

************************************************
This post nominated for age of perfection self-indulgent post of the year. Thanks for reading, guys.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Suspense

I just got an email from a search committee. Yeep. No--don't get excited; there's no news yet. It was strictly of the "we'll be meeting soon and let you know what's going on" variety. But my God--it's been several minutes, and I'm actually kind of shaking. I feel woozy. Wow. This is nuts. And here I thought the weekend was safe from drama?

Speaking of drama, we just had a big flash snowstorm (is that a term?) accompanied by thunder and lightning. It was thrilling. And I thought: Snow day, take 2! But no, that likely won't happen, and really it would be kind of a pain if it did because we're already behind--but who doesn't love a snow day? And it would give me a further 24 hours to come down off of that adrenaline hit.

Now if you'll excuse me, I must commence living in fear of my email.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Good fucking god.

Might I regale y'all with a paragraph from one of my college papers? I believe that I wrote this when I was a senior (20 years old). I can only hope. Actually, the word "hodiernal" clued me in, since I learned it at about that age.

To identify the preconceptions under which one lives, to recognize the possibly arbitrary assignment of signs and signifieds which dictate our perceptions of what we term reality: these are daunting and improbable tasks. It is difficult, if not impossible, to observe ourselves from the inside, to say “This is truth” and “That is what I only think to be truth.” But when two conflicting paradigms meet, the precariousness of the “false” is made all too evident. Of course, in our hodiernal lives, such an occurrence is rare. By and large, we must trust to literature and allegory to witness the effects of such a meeting.


What, pray tell, am I
talking about? Well, let me tell ya.

In “The Masque of the Red Death” and “MS. Found in a Bottle,” Poe describes the disconcerting effects of the intrusion of one “reality,” or sign-system, upon another. These two stories do not function identically, however; indeed, they can be seen as showing different sides of this crisis. The narrator of “MS.” is, though frightened, at least somewhat eager to discover the “secret” towards which he is racing; moreover, he is moving from a scientific, orderly world into a highly disorderly one. The characters in “Masque,” on the other hand, have constructed a carefully-guarded dream-world which is threatened—and destroyed—by the encroachment of the external, “real” one. Thus they both illustrate the precariousness of what we take to be our system of signs and signifieds, but from vastly differing perspectives.


See, occasionally I like to look back over my undergraduate papers to get a sense of what I could/should expect from my own students. It's not that I, in my infinite modesty, think that my students should be as obviously brilliant as I was at that age, but rather to remind myself that I shouldn't feel bad about the B's and C's. Or something. But, good Lord, do I
want students to produce this kind of prose? Wowza. What's especially disturbing is that I was totally sincere.

It's a far cry from my nine-year-old poetic self: "Weird things live in my cupboard," indeed.