Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Sharpening My Claws

Dear lord, I am just exhausted. All that work last night. I think if we're going to work from noon to 11pm, we should get overtime. What's more, Mr. Tabby decided to go ape-shit this morning, meowing and being really demanding when I wanted to sleep. Finally, after two or three hours of getting up on the dresser (bad kitty!) and meowing and freaking out and even biting me, when it was time for me to get up, he had worn himself out and was happily curled up next to me dozing. Clearly, we are on opposite timetables. When I was all ready to go this morning, of course, he woke up and came to the computer, as he usually does, and made me feel bad for leaving him alone all day. OY! I am a bad mother. That's all there is to it. But it's hard to type on the laptop when he stretches out on my arms!

So now I'm at the bagel shop. Every person who served me today was infinitely more awake than I was -- to the point it was painful to look at their sprightly selves and delighted faces. I told the last one to take it down a notch. So he did his best zombie impression and asked me what I wanted. I could almost deal with him in zombie mode. Thank god I can now type in my sleep or you'd not be getting this totally riveting post. What can I say? Do I have anything to say?

It's a rainy day when I should be in bed, and instead I'm going to be dealing with fuckwits. New proclamation: track changes and comments as a classroom response strategy to writing is evil. You, dear reader, would never do such a thing. A student in Cool Class sent me back my draft with his ideas for cuts in track changes. I protest! It just seems disrespectful to use a program that actually puts a line through my words! Though, really, if I'm totally honest, this guy couldn't do anything right -- I don't much like him. He sort of epitomizes what I hated about people in my backburner field, the one I still love but left because I didn't want to have to teach assholes like him. Maybe I'm just grumpy. Maybe I'm just reeling still from the realization that this Really Awful Person who is the Absolute Epitome of Everything I Hate (AEEIH) in my backburner field, and also in the academy more generally, is coming back to campus to speak at something I already said I'd participate in and so can't get out of without looking bad. My fellow blog goddess (blog-ess?) Maude Lebowski calls her, simply, The Bitch. (I admit, it has a nicer ring to it than AEEIH.)

Now, I know I've railed against comparing ourselves unfavorably with others who seem infinitely more productive than we are. But it's quite a different thing when those people who are more productive are also just awful people. Users of others. People whose actions demonstrate that they care little about the actual intellectual and creative work that we do in favor of publication, publication, publication. Stealing people's words. Sucking up to people to get ahead.

Okay, here's the story I trot out when I want to explain how awful she is. There's this well-published friend of mine who I see only every couple years. So she and I were IMing, and she asked if I got her note. What note? And then she proceeded to tell me how she had been at this conference and this woman from my institution came up to her and was very friendly. Knowing that I was at that institution, my friend sent a note to me through her. (The "friendly" part threw me off for a while, but then I remembered: she would be sucking up to my well-published and otherwise fabulous friend, hoping to get something out of it. And when I first met AEEIH, I thought she was friendly too.) So when I figured out that it must be AEEIH, I sent her an email, asking her about the note from the conference she had been back a month from. She replied that she lost it. Okay, maybe I just want to believe the worst about her, but if you, dear reader, were to pass a note to someone, even if you didn't like the person you were passing it to, wouldn't you at least tell them? I mean, even if you lost it, wouldn't you say something, if for no other reason because you're eventually going to be found out? (I suspect she threw it away, never having any intention of passing it to me. Fuck, how hard could it have been to slip it into my box???)

Despite all her publications and success, I wouldn't want to be her. But I wouldn't mind if her winning streak ended either. I wouldn't mind if that good luck descended on me and my friends. (The goddess Chance has been favoring me today with parking spaces and such things. Case in point: what song is playing in the bagel shop right now? That's right. You're So Vain. You probably think this blog is about you. It's not, Bitch. It's about me.)

Don't worry. I'll be polite and professional. But I won't like it. I wish I didn't know she'd be there. Now I have all week to grump about it.

In good news, my friend in my backburner field is on a campus visit. Her success makes me feel like shit sometimes too. But I don't hate her or wish bad things on her. I just keep hoping her blessedness will rub off on me.

Is it so bad that I feel better about going into this meeting with The Bitch knowing that I have this interesting two-year post-doc to lean on? Professional jealousy sucks.

***Update 9:05pm***

My, my, I was testy this morning. Sorry all. I probably should take down this post, but. . .hell, I'm dissertating. And I think it's probably good in a sort of artifactual way to show how crazy I can get when I lose perspective. Part of the reason why I am so annoyed and really threatened (I admit it) by AEEIH is because she's so successful, yet really just generally a user. And sometimes I think maybe that's what it takes to get ahead. But I don't want to be a part of that game. I don't even want to go there. But setting up "success" that way is a mindgame. AEEIH gets ahead at what exactly? Being published? Having people think she's the cat's meow? Investing so much energy in being angry at such a thing is a waste.

I also see I was mean in the post above to the student in Cool Class who sent me my writing with cuts in track changes. Now, I still think that this is not the best way to respond to writing. On the other hand, he was trying to be useful, responding to stuff I gave him. But I was totally unfair when I said that I didn't like him much. The fact is: I don't know him. I've been at Grad City U for so long, there are a lot of people I don't know. I'm no longer on the cutting edge of a department I used to be passionately involved with. In fact, I've sort of become a grande dame for a couple new people who ask me advice. But I'm on the way out, one foot out the door.

I turned in Chapter 4. One more chapter to go. And I have half of it already. I just need to explode the draft I have (which I used as shitty shite-shite writing sample), expand it, and be done with it. In 10 days.

One thing hasn't changed since this morning: I am totally exhausted. (Probably also that I'm totally boring.) But I can't go home yet. I have to pick up WSF's Poet Friend from the bus station. No, I won't hit him over the head with a shovel and then bury him. But only because I've decided that I'm not a user.


gwoertendyke said...

i confess,i'm confused: you *do* have a two-year cool post-doc or this is what you are jealous of? i grant fatigue and that i may not be the best reader....please clarify.

Nik said...

Woohoo! I feel so free! Comment crazy! Ok, not entirely on point but I just read the sidebar about turning off comment moderation and it made me happy.
So I should comment on point: it's so much better when your friends are better published than the jerks.

Earnest English said...

AW: I do have a two-year appointment at Adventure U, which is why I'm hauling ass to get the diss done. I would not be going this nuts if I were just getting a lectureship at Grad City U. I'm beat!

Nik: It's so weird to have comment moderation off. I go to my email, and I don't have to press publish, because the comments are already there. The blog has a life of its own! WEEEEEEE!!!!