Sunday, March 30, 2008

Random weekend things

I really want to make the awfulness of the last week disappear from here...

- I had an unusually quiet weekend, until today. On Friday, I went to bed at 10 to 9. It was delicious! I think I was completely drained from the rollercoaster of the previous week, and this felt like the best response.

- Yesterday I spent much of the day reading a novel in preparation for evaluating the Honours paper of a student for whom I will be second reader. She is writing on this novel, and I was looking forward to settling in with it. I don't read that much fiction anymore. Well. This book horrified me! Listen, I'm not one to go around loathing novels, usually. But then, I usually stay far, far away from novels like this one. It was sickening. I felt queasy the whole time I read it - truly. I found the character irredeemable, and the brutality appalling. The psychotic killers. Ugh. So much for a pleasant Saturday of reading.

- I was so freaked and grossed out by the time I finished it that when my phone line went dead in the middle of a marathon conversation with M last night, I was very skeert. Of psychotic killers. I turned many lights on. For a few minutes the phone was dead. Then, when I could get a dial tone again, every time I dialed, I would get this very deep male voice - which I was convinced sounded vaguely ghoulish - telling me that all the circuits were busy. A wee bit scary for over-sensitive me, after the day of reading the horror.

- In my conversation with M, we weathered the closest thing to an argument we've ever had. We have some differing opinions on a couple of issues that have implications for M's identity. Fraught issues, as you can thus imagine. Fraught issues for me to be opining on, in some ways. Last night, we got something close to tense about these. We talked it through for an hour or so, though, and strengthened our relationship immeasurably. That felt really great.

- Sometimes I read bloggers' rants about being addressed informally by students, and I feel a little bad. Because, I suppose, I am one of those responsible for perpetuating the culture of informality. One of my students sent me an email addressed "Hey yo" the other day. I just laughed. (Granted, she was a very smart student using this address with a certain amount of irony.) I wonder if those of us who encourage informality actually piss off our colleagues who don't like it so much. Is this something I should worry about?

- There are only two more weeks of classes left! Hurrah! I shall miss my fourth-years/grad students, though. Perhaps I shall organize a dinner.


Psychgrad said...

Sounds like an a good recuperation weekend.

I'd be interested to hear how the marking for the thesis goes. What if she really likes the book?

I'm pretty informal myself. But, then again, I don't have much reason to be formal. It would seem really pretentious to me to have my students call me Professor Psychgrad. I don't even know what constitues a professor. I think that as long as students are being respectful, it's fine. If the informality seems to get in the way of being treated properly, then I would be concerned about it. But, for the sake of ensuring that all academics feel properly respected, when "properly respected" is subjective to begin with, I wouldn't worry about it.

Hilaire said...

I think the student will do a great job on her Honours thesis - she's an outstanding student. I don't mind if she likes the book - she's a gothic studies kind of gal. It's definitely evocative of some other issues - I can certainly see why she's chosen to work on it. It's "interesting," from the point of view of these issues. But, ugh!

Yes, "properly respected" is very subjective. You know, it's occurred to me before that sometimes my informality means I *get* respect. I never feel disrespected. But others would, with "hey yo." But if the indicator is respect, as you say, then I think my informality isn't a problem - and hence shouldn't really be, for others. ?

Belle said...

Respect is important; something I've recently discovered in a less-than-pleasant way. Everybody in our dept (small) has different takes. One department is buddies with all of its students, who call all faculty inside that department by their first names. Students are expected to figure out how to navigate and manage. That is a useful skill in the outside world. So I wouldn't worry about it.

Maude Lebowski said...

honestly, i think it depends on one's relationship with the student. it's different when you know the student and the student knows you who treats you informally after a relationship has been established. i think it's when students who don't know a prof or in the beginning of a semester send the same kind of e-mail--Hey, yo, Ms. Prof, 'sup with your class? I wanna take it--or whatever. i don't mind my students addressing me informally after they get to know me.

you have enough things to worry about. this shouldn't be one of them, yo.

hmmm, the novel sounds like bret easton ellis. but you don't have to divulge if it will break your anonymity. even though i "loved" _american psycho_, i almost threw up while i was reading it. and paluhnik's _haunted_, shit i didn't even make it past page 30. and as much as i love horror, i think that one gave me nightmares.


Brigindo said...

I've often wondered the same thing, if my casualness with students make it harder for other professors. I let them decide if they want to call me by my title or by my first name and tell them I don't care which (and I really don't). I do think the informality of email is assumed and it doesn't bother me, although most of them are formal to start and then get informal once we have a relationship. I'm amazingly informal on most emails, which probably pisses a few professionals off, but so be it.

epicentre said...

oh god that reminds me of my reading American Psycho (brett easton ellis' supposedly nihilistic postmodern episode of brutally disgusting fiction) because a colleague gave it to me with a "you must read this" nod, and then I spent the entire book wondering what in the world possessed him to give me such a book, and certainly why it was so lauded.

Hilaire said...

American Psycho seems like a nightmare to me!!