I had a much more intelligent post planned for today, but that got derailed by the Senate healthcare vote. And then I got an email from the placement director in my department:
It’s time to schedule a practice job talk!
Noooooo. My stomach immediately knotted up. I could feel the anger rising up inside me. I feel like I just finished with last year’s job market. Is it really starting again?
No, I won’t do it. I didn’t do it last year. [Yeah, and how did that go for you? You don’t have a job.] They can’t make me. I have classes to teach. I can use that as an excuse. I don’t have time for this bullshit.
They want me to give a job talk that I will never give. They want a job talk for a big, research school. The kind of job talk they want to see. I am never going to get a job at a big R1. I never want to. I don’t want to do that job talk. I went on two fly outs last year, and no one asked me to do the traditional job talk. I’m not doing it this year.
And then, a crazy thought, one that hasn’t been in my head for a long, long time, came up:
Self-harm. I could self-harm to make this anxiety and frustration go away.
And having that thought is scary. Because what am I doing if the thought of preparing for an interview makes me want to self-harm? How can I go into academia if it makes me want to hurt myself?
I didn’t hurt myself, by the way. I texted the appropriate friends to receive support, and then I wrote this post. But having such a strong visceral reaction to something that is a pain in the ass but really not that difficult? That’s kinda scary.
So, setting aside my disaster of a research statement for now (though I did make a list of all my current and future projects, so that counts for something, right?), I also have to re-write my teaching philosophy. This one is easier, in the sense that I actually like teaching, so I don’t feel like I’m bullshitting my way through it. There’s one problem when it comes to teaching though.
I don’t use the right words.
Or, so my advisor says. She sat down with me several weeks ago and talked with me about my teaching prior to observing one lesson of my summer class. She asked me a bunch of questions about how I put together the syllabus, how I structure the lessons, and how I keep the students engaged. She observed me teaching and wrote up a report to keep in my personnel file, essentially testifying to my competency. We even had a “debriefing” session after she had written the report. And in that meeting she told me I did a “bang up” job in the classroom, but (there’s always a but)…
I don’t use the right words to talk about teaching.
Last year, I applied to about 40 schools. I had 3 fly outs. I had 5 more Skype/phone interviews, and 2 APSA interviews. By the end of it all, I had 0 offers.
I need to start applying for this year’s positions. Already, my spreadsheet has 17 schools listed. That’s 17 cover letters, tweaked slightly to show that I really do care about X College/University. That’s 17 times I need to upload some combination of my research and teaching statements, my transcripts, my teaching evaluations and syllabi, and my writing samples. That’s 17 times my letter writer needs to pay enough attention to his/her email to provide a recommendation. And it’s only going to get worse.
So, I’m on Twitter. I’d say my Twitter feed is equal measures personal friends; journalists, politicians, and public intellectuals; and political scientists. The verdict is still out on how important it is for me professionally to be on Twitter, but political science Twitter does keep me up-to-date on what’s happening and what the latest academic controversy is.
About a month ago, academic Twitter lost its collective mind over the satirical piece, “To My Student, on the Death of Her Grandmother(s)” on The Chronicle of Higher Education. I had a lot of strong feelings on the response to the piece – essentially, “everyone needs to CALM THE FUCK DOWN” – but decided not to write a blog post about it (read: was too scatter-brained to sit down and write anything coherent). But, academics have many opinions, leaving me with ample opportunities to ramble on about why I disagree with someone else. Today’s faux controversy:
So, here’s my unpopular opinion about this. I think there’s a pretty easy solution to this problem of the crazy/bitch narrative. Senior academic women should stop being crazy bitches.
I met my partner in graduate school. When I think about how traumatic graduate school was, I often remind myself that I would have never met my partner (nor my best friend) if I had chosen another path. I mean, maybe I would have found another partner (or another best friend) but I think I found a pretty awesome one. I’m pretty content in my choice. I waited a hell of a long time to be in a relationship, and I’m lucky to have a partner as supportive, considerate, fun, and intelligent as my partner.
With all of that said, I HATE SHARING AN OFFICE WITH HIM. This is not a closely guarded secret. Many of our friends know that I find that constant togetherness to be stifling, but I don’t believe I’ve ever outright said it to my partner.
For many years we did not share an office. We worked on different floors of the same building, which provided the perfect balance of accessibility and distance. I worked on the third floor, and he worked on the second. If he had a meeting with his advisor, he could stop by my office. If I felt like taking a break, I could walk downstairs and hang out with him. Even when he got a fellowship this past year and moved to another building, my graduate assistantship for the year was located in that same building. The move was not coordinated, but it was convenient.
This summer though, he has been between offices – he no longer has the fellowship office, but his old spot was also given away. So when I was asked by the department administrator if he could occupy my office for the summer, primarily so the students for his summer course had a place to find him, I said fine. How bad could it be?
I finished the dissertation revisions.
I finished with the summer class.
What do I do now?
It felt appropriate to resurrect this blog a day after President Trump tweeted insults about a female reporter, given that it is named after one such disparaging remark.
Can we talk about how crazy this is? I’ll have to get more into this later, mainly because I need to wade through what everyone else is saying to see if I have anything original to add to this conversation. But here are a few of my favorite Twitter highlights:
So what have I been up to for the past four months?