Thursday, November 30, 2006

Emotion in the classroom

Such a class I had last night.

I wish I could reveal my discipline and the topic of last night’s theory class; it would make it easier to explain and ask for feedback on what went on last night. But I’m not going to do that (even though I’m sure some of you have figured it out).

At any rate, last night a student – one of my favourites – cried in class. That might often signal the devolution of a class into personal narrative and an abandonment of the intellectual project. In this stellar class, it didn’t mean that at all. The crying didn’t take us off course. The student spoke through it, made the point, and if anything, the tears hammered home the relevance of the intellectual work at hand. Many disagree, I know, that emotions have any place in the classroom – but I feel strongly that they do. That they are always present, and that in some disciplines, with some topics, they are simply given more space to emerge into. That our knowledges emerge from people's lives.

There was also some emotionally charged, but silent, staking out of positions. I could see this happen as I surveyed the class – someone reacting strongly, as if attacked, to what someone else had said. The student didn’t say anything, but I was strongly aware of the discomfort – and the fact that it might point to others’ discomfort.

I left the class very upset, shaking, knots in my stomach. On my long walk home from the bus station, I tried to figure out what had me so worked up. In one way, it was simply that there was crying and conflict “under my watch”. I feel somehow responsible for these people. If they are emotionally wounded during their time in my class, how am I complicit in that? Or am I, at all?

In a broader sense, I don’t feel equipped to deal with the emotional dimensions of some of what we study; I don’t have the skills. In this class, because the level is so high and the discourse already very familiar to many of them, it’s not a huge problem. Members of the class can guide their peers in productive directions; they barely need me (and that is a good thing, because I was really no help at all last night). But this is an exceptional class; most of them aren’t like this. And yet there is undeniably this emotional element to what I teach, sometimes. I just don’t know how to position my self in relation to it, what to do with it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Depressing paper

It is paper-marking time. Last night I read the most atrocious paper I have ever seen, no exaggeration. This is from a student in an upper-year course. She's in her third or fourth year. She had given me a draft of the paper a few weeks ago, and I'd gone over it with a fine-toothed comb, correcting grammar and sentence structure. I'd also typed up a sheet of comments and directions on ways to fix the disaster that it was. (She is not an ESL student, by the way.) And she was going to go to the Academic Skills Centre to get help. So she handed it in, and it is no better - possibly, it is worse. It is completely unintelligible. Also profoundly offensive at times.

What depresses me is that she's gotten this far. And I think of the course of mine that she's in, which is a theory course, and which I pitch fairly high because there are a lot of exceptional thinkers in there. I can see now that she is getting absolutely nothing from it. That she doesn't even grasp the principles taught in the first year, let alone in an upper-year course like this. This essay assignment was to use materials from the course, and she's completely misinterpreted them, even though they were discussed in class. That feels bad, frankly - to know that I am completely failing to communicate with at least one person in there. Possibly others. Sigh. I can't *wait* to see their take-home mid-year exam.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Oh, whine

A student of mine came by to see me this afternoon. She sat down and just chatted. She is a wonderfully engaged student from my theory class. She said that she'd run into another professor from our department at her workplace in a fabric store, and told this colleague of mine, "You have to hire Hilaire back!!" That was very nice to hear. She asked me about whether I'd be there next year and I told her that because the uni doesn't have TT job in my field that I can apply for, it's unlikely that I'll be back unless I don't get a TT job somewhere else.

Then she said she was disappointed because she'd wanted to ask me if I'd do a Directed Reading course with her next year.

Can I just tell you, it makes me want to cry and scream and stomp my feet in frustration that I can't do this with her.

I know, I know, you're raising your eyebrows - I know lots of you hate and resent directed reading courses. It's probably just because I am not yet jaded, am still full of enthusiasm about most things in this profession...but I love the idea of doing a directed study course with a student I like. The idea of working with her to narrow her interests, collaborating on a list of readings, and having occasional meetings to talk about things - I love it. I actually also see it as a real learning opportunity for me, on a whole lot of different levels. Perhaps this is because I did so goddamned many of these directed reading courses, especially as a grad student - I found them really rewarding. Anyway, boo hoo.

Sigh. Damn, I wish I could stay here.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


It is amazing how you can't really see the truth of things until you read them aloud...

I had two friends over today for a run-through of my job talk. I'd thought it was pretty much finished. But as I read, I was stuck by a dozen formulations that were off. Not in terms of content - that felt solid, with the exception of one bit that suffered from trying to smoosh four pages of complex writing into one page. But at the level of sentence structure, word choice...These are easy things to fix - not a problem. It was a reminder of how important it is to read work aloud. I tell my students to do this as a proofreading technique, but I haven't been following the advice myself. And I feel my job talk will be infinitely smoother for having done this.

My friends thought my talk was very good; accessible and yet not dumbed-down, they said. That is encouraging. I actually feel pretty good about it. That is a nice feeling to have.


My other strategy has been to type stream-of-consciousness responses to every interview question I can get my hands on...I have pages and pages of conversational answers. This is so useful for me, as someone who most definitely thinks through writing, and not through talking. And of course it's not that I'm going to memorize answers - I couldn't do that, nor would I want to - but that I can tap into what I've previously worked out through writing - thoughts I wouldn't have had if I hadn't done this exercise. Since it's been actually thought and articulated before, it exists, it'll be accessible...

I realized that I did this before, nearly two years ago, when I interviewed for the job I had last year (though I didn't do it nearly as extensively). What a difference to look at my answers from then; I pulled up that old file. It was helpful - I thought, a number of times, "hey, that's a good idea!"

Friday, November 24, 2006

Eye update

Remember, I have that eye thing?

Well, I saw the doctor and it is probably fine. I am supposed to watch it, but they think it is not a big deal. So that's good.

And I, very much a non-shopaholic, bought the following random selection of completely unnecessary items in half an hour today after my doctor's appointment:

- four hair clips
- homemade deli mustard
- unsuitable hair conditioner
- silicone pastry brush
- $19 piece of Basque sheep cheese

That about says it all, really. Paper over emptiness with commodities. How predictable.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Facing the future

Today I arranged a “realty tour” at the place I am interviewing in a couple of weeks. Some local realtor has offered to take university candidates round the area, to both introduce them to the place and give them a sense of their realty options. You know – it’s a soft sell. I am a little averse to any kind of sell, but since I declined the university’s offer of a rental car as part of my flight/hotel package, I thought that this would be the only way to really see the place.

I don’t have any money. If I got this job, I sure as hell wouldn’t be buying a home. But I wrote to the guy that if did happen to get the job, I would rent at first, and then consider buying a place in a year or so, and this would be my price range, etc., etc. It just feels completely ridiculous, like pie in the sky.

But it also feels really sad. If GF and I were going to stay together, there really would be house buying, if not right away. She’s the one with the money, and already owns the house that we live in.

All too often these days, I am having to simultaneously confront both the reality and the unimaginability of my future without her. I wrote to the real estate guy that since I would be single, I’d be looking at a condo or a small house, if I were to buy. (Notice ambiguous use of language, to speak to ambiguous situation.)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

how strange

I just made up an evaluation form.

This university doesn't have a standardized evaluation process. They mandate end-of-course evaluations, of course, but departments do it - and in my department, at least, each individual instructor can do what they want. The department assistant showed me some examples of the form people use. Most use the same one, with essentially the same questions. There is no numeric scale on most of these.

I find this weird. I don't get it. It makes me see the value of having a centralized evaluation system, as there has been at the two other universities I've taught at. Frankly, I'm really surprised that this place doesn't have that. I mean, it's a good university. How common is this?

So I made up a form that contained a numeric thing as well. I don't want to dispense with numbers! Numbers have been very good to me in evaluations! The 1-5 scale is one of my best friends; it makes me look good. I don't want to give that up! Numbers are easily crunchable evidence, too, for teaching dossiers, job applications, tenure files.

How weird. Anybody else make up their own evaluations in a centrally mandated process?

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Weekend update

It's (yet another) gloomy day 'round these parts. Sun, why have you forsaken us?

My weekend has been crazily up and down...

On the plus side, I accomplished the three currently realistic Goals for a Happier Me that I blogged about on Thursday (the fourth is not possible until January...). I:

- talked for an hour and a half on the phone with my friend M, satisfying my desire for phone connections instead of email; and
- went out (relatively spontaneously, in Home City terms - only 24 hours' notice) with my friend K, to celebrate her having been made a partner at her law firm. This one outing counted toward the other two goals: seeing friends, and having joyous eating occasions. We went out for mid-afternoon tea and treats at a place I positively worship. I am serious; the food at this place is works of art, and nearly brings tears to my eyes every time. Not even kidding. The sheer beauty!! Of food and surroundings, actually - I swoon from the gorgeousness. It is really, really nourishing on every level, and I hope for future blogfriend meetups there. I had a maple pumpkin tart and nearly melted with happiness. And I talked to my friend K about what's going on with GF - she is one of the very few real-life people I've talked to about it, for a number of reasons - and she was lovely.

On the more difficult side, the job talk literally drove me to drink on Friday night, after my second day of trying to write it.

But on the plus side, I had an emergency phone conversation with my former supervisor this morning, and she agreed with my misgivings about the route I was taking, and concurred with my hunch that I should start over again with a different chunk of research. A few hours of work today, and I seem to be nearly there. Thank goodness for her!

On the minus side, things with GF have been a bumpy ride this weekend. Blech, blech, blech.

Another minus - my aunt F reminded me of what I had conveniently forgotten. That there is a very rare, hereditary eye ulcer condition in my mother's family. So I'd better get me to the doctor about my eye thing, though from what I understand, it's so rare it's one of those things that nobody will have even heard of.

I remembered, then, this horrible thing: Once, when I was five or six, I was woken up in the middle of the night by my mother screaming as my dad led her downstairs. Some kind of eye thing had flared up out of nowhere and she was screaming in agony about the light. She went to emergency and they bandaged up her eyes for a few days. I remember that she looked like a fly with those enormous pillowy bandages. Let's hope that the fly look is not in my future.

The plus side of the eye thing is that it doesn't hurt.

Also on the plus side, I am going to go for a run shortly, for the first time in two weeks - crisis and cold have conspired to keep me out of my running shoes. And I am making comfort food for dinner - pasta with chickpeas, and a salad with arugula, and maybe even a half-batch of brownies. And Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is on - I am loving it. It's nice to have a show (besides downloaded L Word); I never have a show.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Worry and weirdness

- There's something wrong with my eye. I first noticed this about two weeks ago, but things have been so crazy that I put it out of my mind. It's sure not going anywhere, though. There's some kind of...thing...on the lens of my eye. It's all red around that part, and I can detect some sort of aberration on the surface. Some kind of concave...thing. What it reminds me of? When Mr. K. got a wart under his eyelid and it grew and pressed into his eye so that he got an ulcer and almost lost the eye. It looks like that. Nice. Uh, I think it's time for an appointment with the doctor.

- This week, my colleague Flake and I hatched an idea for a Congress panel...a cool theme that unites our quite different work. I told her about my friend M., the kind of very cutting-edge work he's doing right now, and how well it would fit with our little theme. We were both excited. Yesterday I emailed M, in the middle of an email conversation we were already having (to set up a phone date...sigh; when did it come to this - phone dates?). He's very, very, multiple-exclamation-mark-ly in. Yay! We have a (kickass) panel, I think.

So late last night, I come home to my completely fucked up and ambiguous home life in Home know, the one where GF and I are sorta together, but not forever. This morning, there is some upset, some predictable tears. Then I take the dog for a long walk. When I come home, I tell GF about how I have worked up this panel with Flake and M. She is happy for me, thinks it sounds great. And then she gets this coy little smile. When I press her to tell me what she's thinking, she says, "I think you and M would be great together. I've always thought so. You have such a rapport."

So. My girlfriend is planning my next relationship, with my friend the engaged transman, while we're still in this one.* Who would have thought, six months ago, that November would look like this??

Off to schedule an appointment with the doctor!

*For the record, this is a dead-end thought for me right now. I have no stomach for thinking about a date ever again in my life.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Putting my house in order

So obviously it's not the easiest time for me right now. Things are just a little bit of a mess. What's most difficult is the ambiguity of the situation. The uncertainty. And yet I really strongly feel that I need to live with ambiguity for at least a little while. I've been finding myself dragged down into something just beginning to approach depression - sleeping a lot, not wanting to go for my runs, feeling unmotivated and lethargic. This is a particular fear of mine. (My mother, a single mother, essentially went to bed for six months when I was eight; that has always been a concrete image of a situation I never want to find myself in.) So I'm aware that I need to make some changes so that I don't go that route, and so that I can start building a slightly different life from the one I've had these last few years.

What is making me happy right now? My students, most of all. I continue to just adore them. That Wednesday night theory class I'm always on about is getting better and better, the more comfortable we all get with each other. Last night none of us wanted to leave.

And I have all sorts of wee collaborations going on with people, workwise - imagining and proposing two exciting conference panels, having the reading duo, talking with colleagues about pedagogy, etc., etc. I like this kind of academic collaboration a lot.

That's what's making me happy. But it's all about work. I need to figure out a way to be something other than my work. I have always so grateful to have a very rich, full life outside of academia, as I've written in the context of the now-defunct Activity. What happened to that? In one sense, it's great that I have this work stuff to focus my energy on, since the relationship stuff is so hard right now. But it sure can't be all.

What's missing is joy (outside the great student moments, which sometimes feel a little joyful) - I've been feeling that lack of pure pleasure for a while now. How can I bring that back into my life so that I have the energy to re-imagine things?
  • I need to see my friends more, first of all. Living away from Home City last year essentially functioned as a break in my many friendships there. Friendship habits were broken, you know? This year, I am in Home City for three days a week. But because my schedule and situation in Uni City are weird and grueling, as I've mentioned before, I get to Home City and all I want to do is cocoon. I want to just curl up on the couch and hang out with the dog. The result is that I am not seeing friends nearly enough, and this is time when they are vital; they are a lifeline to that elusive joy.
  • I should have more phone talking...somewhere in the course of the last few years, phone talking has mostly gone out the window with friends. I miss its doesn't do it.
  • I need to eat more exciting food...go out for fun dinners more, or have little cheese parties like I did a few weeks ago. This does connect me very concretely to joy.
  • I need something for my body, besides running. I have an interest in dance - The Activity was a dance form. I will be in Home City one more day a week starting in January...and I see that there is a ballet class I can take at Extremely Good Place on that extra day. Although it is not my first choice of a style to learn, I am interested in ballet. And I think that what's important is to be using my body in the way that I am used to with dance. My body misses that.

That will be a fine start, I think.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The beauty of the bottle

Alcohol is so therapeautic sometimes. I stayed late at my office last night, and then went to a local bar/cafe here in Uni City to get something to eat. And something to drink - which I'd been, frankly, craving for days. I had soup and salad and some pear ciders, and read some articles. And it was divine. It's not the beginning of any sort of downward spiral (with an alcoholic mother, I'm too careful to ever go there), but it renewed my appreciation of drink in times of crisis. Sometimes, it is just the right thing.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Such a freaking sad sack I am

Whew. Lighten up, Hilaire. A meme seen at various, but first at New Kid's.

"You can only type one word. No explanations."

1. Yourself:

2. Your boyfriend/girlfriend.....

3. Your hair?

4. Your mother?:

5. Your Father:

6. Your Favorite Item:

7. Your dream last night:

8. Your Favorite drink:

9. Your Dream Car:

10. The room you are in:

11. Your Ex:

12. Your fear:

13. What you want to be in 10 years:

14. Who you hung out with last night?

15. What You're Not?

16. Muffins:

17: One of Your Wish List Items:

18: Time:

19. The Last Thing You Did:

20. What You Are Wearing:

21. Your Favorite Weather:

22. Your Favorite Book:

23. The Last Thing You Ate:

24. Your Life:

25. Your Mood:

26. Your best friend (s):

27. What are you thinking about right now?

28. Your car:

29. What are you doing at the moment?

30. Your summer:

31. Your relationship status:

32. What is on your tv?

33. What is the weather like?

34. When is the last time you laughed?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Job talk advice

Shitty times continue. What a fuck-up of a day. Argh, everything. (Except my students, who provided me with the one bit of comfort and happiness so far…)

But it’s on to the next thing. I would love some advice about my job talk. This will be the one for the upcoming interview and also for any other interviews, should I happen to get some more. I have seen exactly no job talks in my life because my grad programs were interdisciplinary and didn’t do their own hires. The place I was teaching at last year didn’t have open talks. And when I interviewed at that place, I made a short research presentation on my dissertation (then in progress) to the hiring committee only. I’m freaked because of my lack of experience in this area.

Here’s the deal, and here’s what I’m wondering. ..

I defended my PhD in early December of last year – so, essentially, a year ago. A version of one of its chapters has just come out in a collection of essays – so I won’t be presenting that. But the rest of the dissertation hasn’t been mined yet. My plan, outlined in my job letters, is twofold. It is, on the one hand, to generate two more articles based on the dissertation material – but really building on it, transforming it. (I find it organizationally unwieldy.) The other plan is to write a new book – and I have just begun to work on that project, having presented the first paper at a conference a month ago. The book project is in broadly the same area as my previous work; it really clearly evolved from that research, but is on a more specific question. An analogy would be if I were a Canadian historian and I worked on the Depression; my dissertation was on, oh, say, ideology in the labour-management relationship in the Depression and my new book project is on unions in a particular industrial sector in that same era. But both the dissertation and the new book are trying to “do” the same thing, to intervene in/have an effect on/build the literature in similar ways.

So, does it make sense to use the bulk of my job talk to present dissertation material (which sets up my theoretical interest and approach, and what I consider the urgency of the topic)? I’d have an example or two in there, to be sure, but it would be broad – a non-specialist, but at the same time not superficial, introduction to the kind of work I do, and where I see it fitting. And then, at the end, to spend ten minutes or so indicating the questions of my new project, with a sense of how they build on the approaches established in the earlier work.

Or should I be seeing this as a contained argument/chapter from my dissertation, rather than a broader introduction to what I do?

I feel as if the committee will watch closely how I interpret the vague imperative to “give a research seminar”, and choosing the wrong approach, even if what I say seems okay, could be a bad move.

What have you seen in the best job talks? Or, what did you do in yours when you were a successful candidate? (If it helps, this place I’m interviewing at next month could probably be characterized as a moderately research-intensive institution; it’s kind of hard to categorize at the moment for reasons I can’t get into here.)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Elements of a bad week

This has to have been one of the worst weeks of my life. Besides shock and grief on the relationship front, there were:

- a bad cold;
- a student who came and told me that she had been slipped a date rape drug at a Halloween party - and had ended up in hospital, after passing out in a bathroom and being found by very unsympathetic, mean, judgmental female peers. (The world sucks.);
- a student who handed in veiled homophobic nonsense in a critical response assignment - and I couldn't write "F. F for you're a Fucking Idiot";
- needing to get out of the house I stay at in Uni City on Wednesday night. Since the friends I stay with won't let me give them any money, I feel as if I have no real claim on the space. So when they announced they had a friend coming through town, and did I have somewhere else to stay for that one night, I felt I couldn't help but go somewhere else. I ended up spending over $100 on a hotel.

And then there was the up and down of loss and grief. And not knowing where to put it. Not feeling as if I can talk about it to friends, because it's so ambiguous. GF and I aren't breaking up right now - we will end when I move away, in the summer, for one job or another. We have both recognized, finally, that our relationship isn't sustainable. We are too different - and yes, I think there is such a thing. I've wondered about this for years, and GF hasn't been willing to wonder with me. She came back from her trip having really felt this.

I have written here that I am lonely. She is, too. I don't think it makes sense to be lonely in a relationship. For that reason, and for others, we need to recognize that we're not forever. That we can't give each other what we each need; such very, very different things.

What breaks hearts is that we've tried so hard. I find it breathtakingly sad to recognize that even when you've worked as hard as we have, these last four years, sometimes that's not enough.

And so now, an odd space.

We are together, but see the end in sight. GF has said, "let's spend the next few months being rally good to each other, having a lot of fun together..." This seems right to me, intuitively - though something rational in me wonders if it's not dangerous on some level, emotionally. What with me eventually needing to break away from this and make my life over in a new place, while she stays in Home City with the friends and family and space and routines she knows, to fall back on.

What this means, though, is many months of ambiguity ahead. This week has been characterized by a sense of mourning...and the downs have been profound. If this doesn't settle down a little, soon, I will need to re-assess...perhaps it won't be healthy for me to stay here if it just presses my emotional buttons so much. I can't spend eight months crying.

The other thing is the way this whole thing plays into my job search. Since it is my moving to begin a new job that will instantiate the break between us, I now have profound ambivalence about that. The interview coming up in a few weeks, for instance, is something I feel myself psychically resisting because of what it symbolizes. I need to stop doing that; I need to recognize these as possibilities, not simply as looming loss. How do I do that?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006


The last few days have been grief-filled. Pretty much devastating things about my relationship. I spent 48 hours crying, emerging from that tearful state only long enough to teach my class last night. I haven’t ever, in my life, felt sadness like this. I can’t get into it right here, right now. I don’t have energy for much besides getting through; certainly not for recounting the history of my four-and-a-half-year-old relationship and how I got to what feels like the real tragedy of the place I’ve arrived at with GF. So I won’t explain – at least not right now.

I thought I would take a long break from blogging. But for some strange reason, I feel accountable to this forum, and as if I should be upfront about the fact that there is something very big, and very bad, taking up most of the space in my brain at a time when all should be excitement and planning for job interviews, etc. This brings up some tough questions about what this blog is for. Perhaps I have taken it on too much; I do tend to do that. I also tend to be unnecessarily honest, if that makes sense. At any rate, I feel responsible, somehow, to all you lovely bloggers. So I figured I’d mention it. Now that I have been able to pull it together enough to write.

What I can ask is this, about all that seems so paradoxical:
- How can it be that it’s when you realize the depth of your love for someone – for each other – that the impossibility of keeping on becomes clear?
- Why does the clarity and purity of intention and feeling that you’ve been searching for – for years – come through only when you realize that this is finite, that you, as a couple, will not last forever?
- How can you love each other and imagine how to let go?

Saturday, November 04, 2006


Hey, blogfriends, thank you for all your little notes of celebration and support over the last couple of days. I love ya!

There is relief right now. Relief in knowing that I am marketable, since someone wants to interview me. Relief in knowing that I can write things that people want to publish in Big-ass Journals. But most of all, there's a very surprising relief having to do with my current Uni, the (contractual) Dream Job.

As I wrote the other day, I've been wary of letting myself get too invested in the place. And ever since I was hired in the spring, there has been this talk of a TT job opening up that, perhaps, I would be well positioned for. Long story short, they are trying to secure the funding for the position and post it very soon. What they were initially aiming for was a very broad posting, listing about four different possible areas of expertise - including one that fits my profile. So I've just been quietly obsessing over this.

And then, on Thursday, I went in to talk to my Chair, to let her know I have this two-day campus interview in a faraway place - at the worst possible time...the last week of the teaching term. So I'd need to miss at least one class. We ended up having a long chat. She told me that because of political pressures, they've just had to scrap the initial job call and redesign it - specifying very precisely a field that has nothing to do with my fields. I won't even apply for this job. She expressed disappointment that she couldn't create a posting that might be geared to me, though, and said she hoped that I'd consider coming back here in the future - she said that wherever I end up, she'd keep me in mind for the next TT position that comes up. And she also asked me if I would be willing to take another contract next year. I told her that I would, but only if I didn't come up with a TT job, which she understood. Before I left, she offered out of the blue to write me a reference letter.

Now, I would have guessed I'd leave such a meeting disheartened, since the possibilities for a long-term future at Dream Uni are shot (at least for now). But it was a profound relief, I've found. Now I know I won't be there next year - unless, that is, I don't get another job. I can focus my energies elsewhere. I can let myself integrate, or not. There's no more pressure. I can just do my job. And I can also be assured that if nothing else works out (god forbid), I have an option to stay on there for a year - I won't be unemployed.

I can't believe what a weight I feel has been lifted from my shoulders. And how lucky I feel. It's lovely.


And tonight, GF is arriving home from her three-week trip. We have lots of catching up to do. Lots of talking about futures. I'm excited to see her. Soon I'm going to trek out to the airport to surprise her.

Friday, November 03, 2006

I guess it's officially my week

Well. When it rains, it pours.

I just got home from dental appointment and jacket-buying - the latter in preparation for my campus interview.

And I found, in my email inbox, a letter letting me know that Big-ass Journal has accepted the article I submitted in the summer! Just when I was starting to worry and wonder about it. What's more, the editor says they'd like to send it to press ASAP, since it fits well with some other articles that are going to press. What, no changes?!

I am so pleased. I really love this paper - it began as a paper for a PhD seminar five years ago, and I always held onto it as the only work of my own that I was really satisfied with. So I expanded it in June and put it out there. And now, look!!

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Just found out I've been short-listed for a very good job!!


I can’t believe I’m saying this, Miss Mary Sunshine that I am about my students.

One of them – a great student – is really getting on my nerves. Who would have thought an exceptional student could bug me so?

She is the Golden Child (henceforth she will be known here as GC) of this department…my colleagues have been gushing about her to me since my first week here. She is in my theory class on Wednesday nights. And yup, she’s good. The level of intelligence and calibre of discussion are high in that class to begin with – and she and another student are far and away the brightest there. Until last night, I was really appreciative of her presence (and I still am, to some extent). She’s the very model of an engaged student; it’s hard not to love that. She is also very sweet and kind.

GC sits right next to me (it’s an around-the-table kinda deal). And she has the most irritating tendency to interrupt me to take exception to many of the things I say. I am absolutely fine with people challenging me – there were people who disagreed with the reading I was giving of one of our readings, and that was just fine; it was a great class. But for christ’s sake, let me teach the goddamn class already, GC! Yes, you’re damned smart – probably brilliant, probably way smarter than I am. But it’s my class. Why can’t you just take your turn with the other folks?? Why do you have to sit there policing me? (Some of it did feel like policing – once, she corrected me when I used the word “of” instead of “for” in the name of an organization! And then smiled, self-deprecatingly, sweetly. Argh!!)

I felt as if she was this irritating elder-colleague presence. As if I had invited some senior person in to watch my teaching and she ended up inserting herself and her freaking wealth of knowledge into every nook and cranny of the content. I shouldn't feel that way with a third-year student, for goodness sake!

GC also seems to have some sort of encyclopaedic knowledge of the biographies of every fucking theorist. So sometimes others have asked specific questions about the life stories of people we’re reading – and she’s on it, boy. She just jumps to answer them. And that’s fine – I don’t have a monopoly on this stuff. Frankly, I don’t care all that much about the life histories of some of the people we’re reading – that’s not why we’re reading them. So if someone’s asking, share your wealth, GC. But last night someone asked a question about one of the folks we were reading, and I started answering. And there was GC trampling right over me, talking as I was talking. And ending with a quiet aside to me about one of the things I’d said about said theorist. ("To be fair," GC said, "she apologized for [famous, evil thing this theorist said].")

Shut up, GC. I know she freaking apologized - it wasn't the apology that mattered!!

Now I feel mean and grody. But ugh – she’s getting under my skin in a big way.