Friday, May 30, 2008

Bullets of the Week in Review: Or, There But for the Grace of Cog Go I

  • I don't always choke on the home stretch, but when I do, I really do: I have 43 more essays to grade by Monday, meaning I did not complete any of yesterday's quota or all of today's, plus I have 10 days to transform 12 pages of crap into a 50-page chapter and turn it in to the departing Advisor. And I'm not doing anything. I'm just not caring. I had a bad habit of hitting the wall in the middle of my undergraduate final exams and just saying "fuckit" and walking out of the middle when I hit a hand cramp. I'd usually get an A or B on the final anyways, but it's not a good habit to have resurface in times of stress.
  • Today I managed to see a lot of lovely fellow grad students and have a nice mix of ranting, gossip, and encouraging cheering-up (go exam takers! You can do it!). And got invited to multiple graduation parties, all of which are occurring, naturally, before the chapter deadline. Of course, I'm going to go to them. Counting chickens before they are hatched much?
  • We got let out, I kid you not, after 20 minutes in lecture the other day. Way to model senioritis for the students!
  • On a positive note, my students are finally beginning to accept that language, social structures, family formations, and the mass media all have a powerful impact on human identity, but only that of other peoples'; they are exempt and make choices wholly autonomously. But at least they can recognize it going on for others!
  • I have fans! Hello! Ok, actually, I have readers. That's so less impressive-sounding though. Story is, I emailed someone who reads this blog and said, "hey, I'll be in your neighborhood! We should meet up!" and we did, and even more people were included. (Ok, that sounds more weird and stalkerish on my behalf instead of me having fans, but it was not like that. Please re-adjust this to reflect my fandom and general celebrity status in your minds.) This meetup was very fun and involved the eating of fine cheese. Way classier than my usual cheese-eating habits; I say this having just had one of those little round cheeses covered in wax from the supermarket. I also tried networking and meeting a lot of other people (some of whom are in the blogging circles), which was of mixed interest and success. On the upside: free wine! On the downside: the overall official experience was kinda meh. I was not jazzed and re-energized into my work. But balance that with bullet 1 above.
  • Oh, in other news, I finally have a copy of our department's placement records; I don't think they've been issued to the grads before in the whole time I've been here. Because of my love of gossip and making lists, I've basically already reconstructed most of it and kept a running tally for at least the past few years on my own, and my reckoning about matches what they have. There's interesting stuff to pull out in terms of diversity and who one's advisor is though, as well as a sneaky little habit of counting "postdocs" as successful placements. The people who went from postdocs to another postdoc or unemployed are only counted once on the successful list, while the few who have transitioned to tt jobs are listed twice. Interesting. But then again, there's a certain point where all the job-market knowledge in the world won't actually translate into getting a job. Maybe I'll work on my Zen detachment again instead.
  • I also heard some gossip from another grad that they are planning a hire in my field in our department. Ah, wistful sigh. I can see no reason why they would want to hire me, considering that I'm from here and I closely match the field and approach of my professors, but it always makes me a little sad to discover a job that I really fit the qualifications for but won't get. Usually it's the case of discovering an ad after its deadline has passed, but this is about the same. There but for the grace of Cog I could be a tt prof here, except I don't know then where I would be from, and the process of getting a PhD from a different institution would probably have made me a very different person.
  • Actually, in a related bit of silliness, my first year on the market I made the newbie mistake of researching all of the jobs I was applying for way too closely, way too early --- I wasted a lot of time googling the area and looking at rents on Craigslist, which just made it hurt all the more when I didn't get writing sample requests from most of those places I had emotionally invested in. But the really silly thing was that I would start dreaming about one great job and then go, "But wait! That would mean I can't have this great job! No one else can have the fun jobs but me! I will collect them all and hoard them under my bed!"
  • The above bullet will probably make you think I'm really weird. So be it.


Academic said...

Yay for students beginning to catch clues! I love how people can accept that there is identity formation without thinking of how forces may work to form said identity.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Is there any reason why the chapter has to be 50 pages? Mine were all in the 25-to-30 page range and they gave me a PhD anyway.

And you totally have fans, and deserve them :)

kfluff said...

Hee. I love that move that students make, intellectually: "well sure, everyone else is a slave to culture, but not me! I am a unique and self-creating individual! yay me!" This is when I generally pull out the Fight Club line: "right, and you're also the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world."

And FYI, my institution counted postdocs as well. Even a few that were internal, which I think is just ludicrous.

kermitthefrog said...

On the contrary, I have hoarded jobs under my bed many a time! Unfortunately, they were all stolen away, leaving nothing but dust and luggage.

k8 said...

I love that a humanities department is using statistics "creatively."

I also love your students' belief in their own exceptionalism. I guess they've made a first step, but they have a way to go.

Sisyphus said...

Update: 7 papers graded last night, and I just did 9 more this morning. Now I'm going to take a walk and a brief blogging break.

Porpentine: the short answer is, "because my advisor said so." Besides, there's 20-page chapters, and then there's 8-pagers, which wouldn't pass anyone's test, eh?

Kermit, now I know who stole all my jobs last year! Bad grad student! Put them back, I say!

Kfluff and k8, since my dept. is just listing the names of all the people who got jobs and where, it's technically not using statistics at all. But there are many interesting clues to be found in a close reading of that document, to be sure.

And you all may or may not remember that this is my group of students who did not believe feminism was a social movement, or that social movements exist: they are just a lot of individuals doing their own thing who just happen to all be doing it the same way at the same time. So I've made huge progress, especially considering that you wouldn't get that much change in just 10 weeks. We didn't work on their crappy writing at all, due to the structure (and easiness) of the class, but they are starting to see these issues all around them, even if they can't analyze them much.

Aimee said...

Ooh, I totally want to see your reconstructed list. It was something like 50%, right? Or lower?

kermitthefrog said...

Well, like I said, they're not there any more, but you want a dirty green duffel bag? I think I can pull that one out from the depths. They were all jobs like "paralegal" and "SAT prep tutor" anyway...