Friday Afternoon Musings...

This was going to be a longer post, but the cranky "turn the music down" person next door just came in, and since I just turned in my grant application for the summer, I don't see any great reason to sit in the office any longer today.

Plus, for whatever reason, I might be a little giddy from having survived that was. Who knows?

But for whatever reason, "Go Places" by the New Pornographers is resonating with me very strongly today, particularly the section "...I see/what the moral of the back story could be/Come with me, Go places" - which, if I were to punctuate as the day's motto would look like this:
I see what the moral of the back story could be: come with me, go places.
And so, I was thinking about something off the academic track of posting today. Something about people I'm thinking about. It's leap year, and it occurs to me there are no cool traditions that go with this rare event. Sure, it signals a Presidential election later in the year and the impending arrival of the Summer Olympics which are far, far superior to their shoddy snowy season sibling (though I maintain the Summer and Winter Games should still be in the same year - marketing be damned). But there's nothing that goes with the actual day except tormenting people born on the day by making the same stale jokes about how they're really only five years old or some such.

But leap years seem interesting when you think about them. A day forced into the calendar to make the calendar jive with the world we actually live in.

So here's my challenge for all of you, on this Leap Year, where we attempt to bring our lives into line with the seasons by re-punctuating the calendar year (one of the great systems of grammar in the world: how we organize the language of time) - pick some bit of text, and reorganize however you see fit. And let's see what you've got.

Dark was the night, cold was the ground

Okay, it wasn't as bad as all of that.

But it has been a freakin' long week. Meetings over candidates, over the direction of the department (and you know what? no more "men don't ask for directions" crap ever 'cause I feel like my department, currently only me, spends more time asking about direction than any place on Earth has the right to), and today, our annual departmental service event - which I am currently hiding from for just a bit. This week - this month - has been a march, a litany of tedium and obligation.

In the meantime, I've edited three articles for the journal, written its introduction, finished Plath, started Alexie's young adult book, and begun refreshing on "Battlestar Galactica" before it returns shortly. The end of March has been my deadline to decide whether I want to start exploring ways off this ship we call academia.

I'm looking forward to taking tomorrow and doing nothing at all, even if it will be, technically, the first day Friday of the term that I don't have any kind of meeting on the day that was supposed to be spent working on my book.

Singing for your supper...

A lot of you have probably read the article on Inside Higher Ed about Marshall University accepting a gift that carried a stipulation that a particular book be taught. To talk about it as a question of academic freedom ("academic freedom means you don't have to teach the book") is a bit shortsighted since what the contract for the gift does is essentially put a price tag on that freedom. Honestly, this shouldn't be surprising - there have been plenty of in-roads that are not only well-paved but well-trod - that would lead a donor to think this would be fair game.

On one hand, the increasing professionalization of higher education has given plenty of cause for other institutions to feel like they could dictate curriculum. And I want to be clear that we can't just talk about this in terms of business, which would be the first logical jumping off point from the article. As an institution, higher education is increasingly dependent on the will of outside benefactors. Take a stroll through any campus and look at everything that's got a plaque on it. In virtually every case, the money that bought that plaque and that helped procure that space came with stipulations. When you're dependent upon the kindness of strangers, you can't be surprised when one of them makes you perform a bit.

Obviously, there are strategies for dealing like things with a gift that requires you to teach a particular view. First, don't take it. But if you do, you don't have to teach it the way they want. Want to talk about Ayn Rand and The Wealth of Nations? Well, you can talk about all the ways those things don't really fit the world we live in quite so well as people would like us to believe. But the larger strategy has to be finding a better way to fund higher education.

Looking Down on My View From the Other Side of the Table

I'm finally getting caught up on things, more or less - a bunch of journal editing duty fell out of the sky on my lap this weekend which is interesting because it's in my area and because the scholarship comes largely from outside the country but which is a problem because the scholarship is all being translated into English, making for loads of proof-reading difficulty. But it feels like I'm nearing the end of the stack of things for a bit, particularly as the department's big day o' celebration is coming up at the end of this week (about a month earlier than usual). And because my part of the candidate/hiring stuff here is at its end.

It's the end of the hiring process that has me thinking. I was pouring through my notes on the various teaching demonstrations, which has led me to drawing out particular themes and comments. As a note taker, I'm all over the place; words literally bend in different directions, arrows are drawn, and things are put into boxes. I'm not above drawing a picture of something unrelated if it comes to mind in hopes that some other pattern or problem is resolving itself. That makes going through notes doubly useful for me.

But the goal of this was to make sense of the hiring process here in order to see where I most wanted to cast my vote. The 30-second backdrop for all of this is that we're hiring, and as a group we committed to finding a way to make the department more diverse, though we've all got our own versions of what that means, mine obviously being the one closest to articulated here (if you want to get up to speed on the posts of my thoughts on this, it covers a bit of space and context: so look here first and here, maybe here, then here).

And in the midst of my notes, I stumbled across this post by Dr. Crazy, and that, combined with things I stumbled across in the margins of my notes on candidate teaching presentations, made me think that the post you're currently reading might be a good idea.

Some caveats to where I'm going:
  • first, this isn't the most well-thought out of posts; as usual, I'm still working out what it all means
  • second, I'm likely to reference some other blog posts and arguments from here and there, but I don't mean to represent what they're talking about so much as what they made me think about.
Dr. Crazy's post had me thinking about what I'd already been doing in my own evaluations of candidates: playing a peculiar form of identity politics. It was good to ready Crazy's post because it put words to things I'd noticed but hadn't seen articulated. But it managed to (virtually) put boot to butt - or perhaps just a big red crayon underline - to things I'd be considering.

So what did I stumble across in my notes? In one candidate's review, noting their teaching style and how it wasn't connecting with our students, I wrote:

"Needs to risk something"
and in another, later candidate's notes, who also had a note about needing to risk:

"is it fair to hire a candidate to bring a particular kind of diversity? --> is that making them a poster child?"
I'd been hoping at the beginning of the process (roughly represented in that first quote) that the candidates would bring difference into the classroom directly - that they'd draw on their experiences and difference to make the lecture work. But by the near end of it, when a candidate from a foreign country was speaking, I began to wonder about how fair what I was asking might be.

If I'm really going to be true to this line of thought, I'm going to have to divulge a bit. As I said, my department committed to hiring with diversity in relation to this position. I'm proud of that - that we didn't even have to talk about it, that it was on all of our minds. But where the latter parts of my notes seems to indicate that I'm starting to see some pitfalls. We need diversity here.

We NEED diversity here.

I'm in a department that is entirely white, entirely male at a university that is decidedly white and female in a region that is considerably more diverse than that. If we add categories - upbringing and religion, for example - things here get even more homogeneous. My connection to the students (in terms of demographics) comes largely from visible appearance and a similar background. I grew up working class, as most of the kids are here. I put myself through school, the same as most of the kids here. And that's largely where it ends.

If someone had said, in their hiring of me, that they were looking for diversity, would they have found it? And maybe more importantly, would they have found me risking anything when I stepped to the front of the room the way I seemed to expect these candidates to?

If you've ever come across those posts about the student exercise to demonstrate privilege (you know the one: take a step forward if your family had books when you were growing up), and you've seen the reaction that seems most common to it in the blog-o-sphere ("What? We had books growing up, and I don't think I was particularly privileged! This test is a sham!")*, you'll get a sense of how I'm starting to question my own hiring criteria. Am I setting someone up to stumble into the classroom situation Crazy mentions?

It felt like, as the last candidate was speaking, as I was silently urging her to risk something - and not just anything, but to put herself out there with a personal example of her difference - that what I was actually asking was for her to self-marginalize, that, in fact, her job might literally depend upon it. It's so tricky, because I do believe diversity is vital to education (not just the education at the institution I'm at). And I do believe that I bring a little of it myself.

But I also clearly bring it from a safer position. And I'm not sure how I should negotiate that.

* It's not a predictor, people. It's an exercise. It isn't meant to test for some certainty of whether someone is privileged or not; it is a quick exercise to provide a simple reframing. It isn't meant to be exhaustive. I know that it's irritating to have stumbled across the academic version of "You might be a redneck if..." but I think if question one for whether you are privileged or not was "You have time to sit around and debate on the computer whether you're privileged or not," the debate would be both funnier and shorter.

Recommendation Letter Friday

It's another Friday when I'm meant to be working on my book, but with departmental stuff (and my recent Boston excursion), I'm behind on all sorts of things. Most notably, recommendation letters. I think I've got six to write today. It'd be alright if they were all grad programs, but a couple are for a star student we lost because they couldn't afford the tuition here. And there are a couple for internships. Internships need recommendation letters now?

Can I say, "Please, kind employer, take my hard working student and pay them nothing, work them hard, and - if you're feeling kind - work them in ways actually appropriate to the internship. I cannot recommend them enough for this system of exploitation strongly enough."? Granted, not all internships are this way, but some of them do take themselves so seriously. I'm probably a bit grumbly about this because I'm reflecting all internships in light of the opening chapters of "The Bell Jar." Also because we once had a student who got an internship at Disney where they dressed as Minnie Mouse. Valuable experience, to be sure.

Even that seems manageable, though, since there's Ray Charles on the .mp3 player. I wonder whether the neighbor with super hearing will find this distracting, and I wonder what will happen when a student walks by and catches only the phrase "bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather" come pouring out of my office.,, it's sunlight...

...and just when I'd largely resigned myself, word of a new job nibble reached my ears. And now, suddenly, fingers are crossed again, wood is being knocked on, and I'm considering taking up some religion or other.

Why do job searches make me feel like Wile E. Coyote?

Near-midterm Interlude

So there's not a lot of news to report today. The term's going on the way terms do. The weather is doing what the weather does, and I'm behind the way I often am. It's far too cloudy here to see the eclipse, and that rots. Probably I should be thankful since I've been battling a slight cold since my visit to Beantown.

But the big joy is that I finally broke down and took the film from my trip to Paris in. I'd been putting it off because I'd had camera problems while I was there and my French wasn't good enough to convince the officials at the airport to not pass it through the X-ray machine. But I broke down - I deserved a treat (as if ducking off to Boston wasn't one). And the pictures came out nicely, I think.

Now the photos cost me more to develop than I'd like. And that leaves payday a long way off. I wish I had access to a darkroom so I could do these things myself, but evidently they're going well and truly out of style. That's one of the great tragedies of life, I think. I always enjoyed darkroom time - there was something truly meditative about it to me. There were more than a few days where the difficulties of my undergrad were made more sensible by a little time playing with pictures.

One of the things I found myself thinking about as I was choosing a few images to put up is how funny it is that even though I've some of these same photos on my digital camera, I feel so much better actually having them on film. And trotting around a foreign city without my full camera bag felt very strange, too (I only carried the then-newly acquired digital and one of my camera bodies).

I still like the old SLR better, frankly. And I wonder how long it'll be until people begin to seriously fear what's happened as we've moved images and words ever closer to digital only storage.

And so, rather than talk about candidates or rail on about the injustices of my life, I thought I'd put a couple of photos up. Besides, honestly, this blog needed a few images just to keep things interesting. And it never hurts to stop and think about nice things for a bit of time.

So I hope you enjoy 'em. The top image is from a piece in the Louvre; the second is a seal on the side of Sacre Couer, and the last is inside the Musee D'Orsay. There's more, and maybe I'll put some up. But right now, I'm trying to get it together to actually do some grading tonight and maybe actually think about how to plot out next week's lectures.

The Wrong End of the Short List

Still reeling from the joy of seeing great friends in Boston, I was surprised to find a new hitch in our candidate negotiations: location.

We had a good number of applications for our position - very competitive. We had to split hairs to get from 10 candidates to the four we brought in. And in that large pool, we had a number of applicants who were from outside the country. And a couple of them made the short list. I knew it was more difficult to get a foreign candidate in, but my assumption was that it wouldn't be a problem except in terms of additional hoops to jump through.

Imagine my surprise when I found some bit of notice today that a foreign candidate is likely to wind up on the wrong end of the short list before anything else - like their visit to campus, for example - could even enter into the equation. I'm a little frustrated as I'd made the case that we might want to consider someone from outside our cultural sphere when we talked about diversity candidates (and bless my department for not even blinking as they gave me their agreement).

But it's terribly frustrating. And I wonder how willing schools are to come clean on things like this to candidates? Or are we going to tiptoe around the issue in favor of pretending it makes things more fair or us seem less exclusive? The downside, too, is that it means candidates from outside have be doubly dazzling .

RBOBoston Love

Okay, even if I was glad the Patriots tanked, and even though I'm rooting against the Celtics, I've got me some serious Boston Love going on.

Part of the joy was getting to see so many old friends. My darling K. and I dialed many old friends at a too-late hour (a grad school favorite) including a call to a friend in Germany who didn't understand my attempt to ask if she had Prince Albert in a can in French (I can only say "Bon jou, oui." but I try, damnit). And the inestimable N. and I picked out our Classic Novel for the Year (which may be one of the coolest traditions ever). This year was my pick - "The Bell Jar" by Sylvia Plath, which I am 170 pages into, having started this morning (there will likely be more on this). Last year N. picked out "An American Tragedy" by Theodore Dreiser which will, at best, someday serve to hold up a piece of my furniture.

That said, here's some random Boston-esque thoughts to help me warm back up for the blogging world:
  • I think the Harvard library charging outsiders for use is both totally expectable and totally shitty. I vote we make them call themselves something other than "library"
  • enough with the Duncan Donuts. It's like that Onion article about a Starbucks opening in the bathroom of a Starbucks, except with an Irish accent
  • no one, apparently, really says "wicked pisser." I am quite sad about this.
  • Best Burger in Boston: The Druid
  • I heard there's a bar where there's a Frank Sinatra impersonator on Sunday nights. Seriously. Everyone told me. I get it.
  • to the guy in the bar where the Frank Sinatra impersonator would be on a Sunday night: the baby blue Army coat with the upturned collar only makes you look more like a New Kid on the Block. And that's not a good thing.
  • to the woman I hit with the door as I came out of the bar: You're right. It wasn't cool. But, to be fair, you were on a cell phone and looking the other way, so I think you pretty much got what you deserved.
  • Paul Revere's house looks like my grandfather's house. He also had a lot of kids and probably rode around late at night shouting. We didn't make a big deal of it.
  • ladies of Boston, a word: enough with the black pea coats. You're starting to look like some sad, nautical themed gang.
  • so many female bartenders with Irish accents: Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhot! Honestly, it's like the promised land.

More Than a Feeling...

Okay. I really am sorry for the cheap song reference by way of mentioning that I'm in Boston. Sometimes you have to go the easy route, even when it makes you and everyone cringe. I thought about other titles - "Backwards into Boston" for the ride on the train in from my first stop, but this seemed best. Nothing else seemed to work, though. And worrying about the title seems silly anyway, since it misses the most important part. I'm in Boston.

I'm here, largely on vacation, though I've spent the morning lounging on a friend's couch writing "rewrite and resubmit" on student papers. Thankfully, I've managed out of the ten graded so far this morning to find three that I'm not going to have send back. Strangely, I never get this much work done first thing in the morning at my own place. It's like the academic equivalent of a Sanka commercial.

What's great about this trip though is that I get to see a lot of friends from grad school while I'm here. I was pretty lucky in my grad school experience. Grad students weren't forced to compete with each other for the tender mercies of the faculty, for one thing. But more importantly, our program drew great and interesting people as grad students. Academically, here was a willingness to share our work with each other and to help each other with it. Really, though, they were generous in spirit. Last night, as I was sitting on the same couch, drinking my beer and reminiscing, I was thinking about all those nights at the bar and out to dinner there was never a time when I couldn't recall there being way too much money to cover the check. Or how when someone was a little behind, there was always someone who noticed and helped without being asked and without asking anything. Of course there was the talk about big ideas. That's the obvious bit. But the completeness of it matters more, and that, as much as anything, is what I think about when I look back.

I was thinking this morning how I want to try and bring that sort of feeling back into my life. One of the tragedies of a great grad school experience - and I'll be honest, I look at grad school with the same fervor small town quarterbacks look at their senior year of high school - is that it ends with everyone fanning out to various parts of the country. So there's a lot that I miss, and it wouldn't seem like it should be difficult to find again, considering I (at least for the moment) work with people who are largely cut from the same cloth. Most days, that feels more daunting than it does today.

Maybe it is the sunshine. Or maybe it is Boston. Probably it's being close to good friends again, for however brief a time. Regardless, I'll take it.

More Views From This Side of the Table

So one of the secret joys of job searches is that you get to eat out lots, often at places you like. I expect, out of this influx of candidates, to get at least one good steak dinner on the University's dime. That probably means if you're hungry, reading this post isn't going to help. But really, it isn't intended just to be about food.

Beyond my own selfish (and gluttonous) motives, one of the things I'm liking in our candidates is that they're staking a claim on some things and making me do it, too. I'm in a program that's got a firmly stated mission - it's one of the attractive things that I think it well and truly attractive about our program - so sooner or later, anyone who wants to work here has to address it. Some candidates tiptoe around it, some try to ignore it , some pay lip service to it.

As a bit of clarification, I don't mean a mission statement in that resume/business school/corporate manner. Ours has a pretty direct view of what our program and field of endeavor is lacking and asks that we - and our students - bring their A games to change it. But for me, what I'm seeing this go-round is truly impressive.

As you may have guessed, yours truly likes a debate. Too much probably. So when a candidate sets down their fork, ignores their Pad Thai, looks me in the eye and says, "Now you know what I think. What do you think your mission means?", things are off to a good start. I look for that ability to engage - and to question - from a colleague. I didn't come from one of those particularly combative graduate programs, but we did have great discussions on things, and more than a few people there changed how I think about things. So maybe that's part of why I think it's important that I get a sense from candidates about how they'd read the mission of our department and where they'd take it.

And if their argument is good enough to make me ignore my Spring roll and Masuman curry, well, then we've got a winner, don't we?

My Album Cover

As much as I talk about music here, this seemed a natural sort of meme to play with. Plus it is Sunday, and we're in the midst of a remodel here at The Doctor Isn't, so why not a laid back sort of post.

Make Your Own Album Cover
1. Click on this link. The title of the page is the name of your band.
2. Click on this link. The last four words of the final quotation on the page are the title of your album.
3. Click on this link. The third picture is your album cover.
4. Add your band name and title to the picture.


I'm personally fond of this as a game anyway - either taking random quotes out of things friends are saying or from things we're reading - to make either the title of their autobiography or the name of their band.

My favorite band name so far came from a class a few years back: The No Nothing F-Bombs.

Thoughts from the Other Side of the Table on Job Interviews

We're in the midst of a candidate search, which is my first time having any real say in the process from this end. I served on committees as a grad representative and helped in the hiring for a couple of visiting positions, but this feels markedly different. Sitting here in the midst of it, I'm realizing there are a few things that I look for in the job search and some things I'm looking for in candidates.

On the job search side, the big thing I'm realizing is that I want what I perceive to be fairness to candidates. I want them to go through roughly the same experiences in roughly the same order. For example. I mentioned in a previous post that I had some problems with the search committee's view of a teaching demonstration (which, by implication, means I also had some problems with the teaching demonstration). And to their credit, the candidate did exactly what I'd wanted - in the interview, which came after the teaching demonstration, the first thing they mentioned was the lecture and what their intention was. They also copped to what got away from them, and how they'd change things. It didn't completely dispel my doubts, but it certainly lessened them (and I realize some people think this is probably a no-no, but I, at least, would like to see it). But at least one of our later candidates won't get that chance as the teaching demonstration is the last thing they're doing.

With teaching schedules being what they are, and the strange nature of arranging candidate visits being what they are, getting that level of order can be a problem. But I would prefer it because I'll admit that I've got a series of questions that I want answered from every candidate. Obviously, I want to know how they're going to address some things that I know matter to me, but it is also because I want as much of a chance to see how they compare to each other.

I'd also like to see a bit more formality on the side of the interviewer. I'm realizing how little I recall about my own interview here as we go through this process. But I'm finding myself frustrated with the department as there is a hesitancy about planning little details. For example, there seems to be a steadfast refusal to reserve a room for the candidate interviews, which leaves us wandering, looking for an available room (and often that room winds up being a disheveled class room). I've mentioned to the search chair that I think leaving this to chance makes us look disorganized (which, evidently, we are). I've done job interviews before where the committee didn't even get me an itinerary until I was checking into a hotel, and that level of disorganization (and I'll also say lack of consideration) made me immediately lose a lot of interest in the position.

One other way this has expressed itself in our search is where the candidates are doing their presentations. Now it seems to me that we've written a very well-defined job description, and so we'd not only want to see a teaching demonstration that addresses those things, but that we'd make sure that such a lecture was being put into classes where they'd make the most sense. Instead, we've got candidates teaching to a wide variety of classes that may or may not relate to the area for this hire at all. Again I tried to express this to the search chair - and in this case, I was met with some interesting considerations that (while I don't agree with) I can at least see the point of. But I do wonder how it is being perceived by the job candidates.

Where I'm surprised though is in the margins of what I'm looking for in a candidate. Part of what I try to do with questioning candidates is to see how much of themselves they let come out. I don't trust perfect fits to everything, so anytime I see someone who loves everything we're doing, who'd suggest nothing different, who finds the university perfect, loves the area, wants the courses, etc. I'm immediately suspicious. I want a colleague who will push me (and some of those other things) a bit.

All the usual things apply, in addition. I want a candidate with ideas, who can convey them to a variety of people, and who relates well with us. Too much reserve on the part of a candidate seems dangerous to me because I, like probably every person out there, thinks I'm easy to get along with. And as a department goes, I can guarantee we're laid back. That part probably isn't surprising. But I'm also realizing that I'm looking for youth with this position, which I hadn't recognized previously.

Maybe that isn't so surprising either, but I think the reasons are worth noting. I'm currently the youngest person (by quite a margin) in the department. I'm also the newest hire. One of the things I've noticed - subtly and unintentionally - with my colleagues so far in this process is that when the candidate is their age, I'm still the kid of the department even though I advise more students, teach a wider range of classes, etc. than the rest. Even the potential hire gets into the act. I don't mean to imply that I want someone to have to pay their dues and do lots of work and toady to me. I just mean that I don't intend to pay extra dues. There is, to me at least, a palpable sense of a not-quite-Old Boys network here, and I don't feel any need to add to that with our hire. Nor do I want one more "elder to respect" in this process.

Signs my blog has been successful...

Rather than start today focusing on more serious things, today deserves a little humor. So I present some of the most recent search terms that have brought me readers:
  • "atomic stomp"
  • "cruisin in my six four"
  • "charity prom dress drives"
  • "conclusion for country music"
Obviously, this pleases me as it is exactly the high-brow demographic I'm looking for coupled with the focus and clarity that you've come to expect from all things Curmudgeon.


No, this isn't a post about the John Stewart/Steven Colbert/Jay Leno Working While There's a Writer's Strike kind, but the sort you find yourself picking at.

I was wondering, earlier today, about whether there was a cyclical nature to the blogging world: the circle of blogging complaint, if you will. Or maybe some sort of bizarre social convention I don't get, like not wearing white after Labor Day, that tells us secretly not to complain about job-market stuff during certain times of the year. Shouldn't there be an academic version of a groundhog, after all, that tells us it's six more months of the winter of our discontent? I'm temporarily passing on the joke about it being a grad student seeing their advisor's shadow, but it's only because I don't want any grad students reading this to feel compared to a rodent.

I just recently received the rejection letter from the job I knew (but didn't KNOW) I'd been rejected for. It arrived months after I'd been told I'd hear, and I'm sitting here tonight reading it over and over again while looking outside at the icy streets outside. And I'm attaching the phrase "long distance" to all sorts of atypical things to see if the taste of it ruins: "long distance Christmas," "long distance great uncle," "long distance debt consolidation." So far, I haven't found a phrase that is made truly better by its addition.

We're in the beginning stages of our candidate searches here, and after having only read some letters and seen a teaching demonstration, I think I may be at odds with my department. Maybe it's because I hate the touchy-feely (and have ever since 9th grade when my English teacher thought making us sit on the floor Indian-style would make us more responsive to each other's writing (it didn't - 9th grade poetry is bad no matter where you sit). And I hate teaching by buzz-word as much as I hated making policy by buzz-word in the corporate world. So a teaching demonstration where I'm fairly certain I didn't see the person teaching actually do anything but put the students into groups and let them argue over whose clumsy use of a concept was the least offensive leaves me a little cold. Yes, yes, "active integrative" blah blah.

I'd be completely growly but "Sad Professor" by R.E.M. just came on the MP3 player, and you can only laugh at that kind of musical irony.

Not drowning, just waving...

It seems I may have fallen off the face of the Earth. This morning someone contacted me, saying "Jim and I were talking about you, and we'd decided you might have died. Hope you're still among the living." It was only one of several messages in the last four or five days that indicated, in varying degrees, that I might be in one of those "Quiet. TOO quiet." moments.

So for anyone who was wondering, no, I'm not gone, dead, or disinterested. I am, however, quite possibly the most boring person around these days, with so little to report that I should probably be depressed about it. As blogging goes, I've got so little inspiration that I could be in a Milli-Vanilli cover band. I'm embarrassed to admit that even as I write this, I'm half-tempted to just post song lyrics. But I'm not in sixth grade, and I think it'd just seem like some sort of depression to the untrained eye. And I can't have that as I've been enjoying myself in very quiet ways, having spent lots of time on the phone recently talking about nothing in particular which is a subject at which I seem to excel. And I'm slowly pushing into the book writing, even as the rest of my month threatens to evaporate with a slew of campus interviews for the position we're hiring for (as opposed to the sorts of campus interviews I'd want, where I'm being courted).

I did manage to finesse the schedules a bit for most of the visits so that I can make my appearances and then return to the book, so thanks to everyone who offered advice on that a few posts back. And I am excited to have scammed a trip to Boston next week to visit a few friends. And I submitted an article to a journal (this feels huge as the one question people asked at both of my interviews this year was why I've so many non-journal publications).

So, dear readers, apologies for the absence (and the fact that it'll likely continue for a bit.