Monday, February 23, 2009

Conferences, Committees, Letters of Recommendation: Sigh

I know I've been a sporadic blogger at best. This has nearly everything to do with the amount of committee work I've had to deal with (a) and the fact that between it and teaching, I've only managed (just) to deal with conference paper nonsense in time that would normally be reserved for things like rest and, I don't know, showers (b).

So I'm back from my conference adventure.
  • People seem to think that my half-baked ideas are fascinating. When shmoozing, one needs to pretend that one is deeply committed to those ideas, and to convince oneself that one is fascinating. However, the voice in my head always wants to reveal to people that I am the queen of fascinating ideas (and I really do think that I am - so I'm not being modest or anything about that) but that I'm lazy and I have huge problems with follow-through. Or that I sometimes just crap some stuff together at the last minute having no plans to do anything else with it. Of course, this would not be nearly as impressive as talking about one's work as being "a new project" that is "still in the formative stages."
  • I ran into a friend from grad school, which was great, but also funny as neither of us had realized the other would be there. When I ran into him, I was already a wee bit tipsy, and it was in a bar. This seemed appropriate. What was strange was that he was flanked by graduate students, who seemed to think that he's quite grand. Which I'm sure he is... it was just very strange being in a scenario with a person with whom I went to grad school wherein we were the glamorous professors at a conference.
  • I think that I have solidified my idea for Book #2. I'm not sure why I think I have to write a second book, but it appears that I do think that I need to.
So, on today's agenda I have a meeting with the committee I'm chairing, a meeting that I hope goes smoothly but one that I think could likely involve some conflict that I don't really want to oversee. However, my thought is ultimately that it would be better for this conflict to play out in the committee than at the level of the whole department, or at least to let off some steam from the conflict in the meeting.

The thing about this committee work is that it's not energizing. It's satisfying... if indeed it goes anywhere... but not something that makes me excited about going to campus or about my job generally. I think I'm doing a good job, and I think that I am doing my best to address the needs of different loose factions. That said, this work requires patience that I don't have, and it requires levels of diplomacy that I'm capable of exercising (perhaps maybe even talented at exercising) but that I don't enjoy (which is why I like being a professor most of the time - it requires very little diplomacy in the day-to-day). What's funny is that this work reminds me most of what it was like to work in newspaper settings - whether as a reporter, an editor, or in the production department. Let's just note for the record that I came to loathe such work to the extent that I thought majoring in and then going to grad school in English was a better option than pursuing journalism as a career. I suppose, though, if I can muscle this nonsense through the process that I will be a hero of sorts, even though nobody will be happy with the outcome. So, there is that.

And then I've got like 3 or 4 letters of recommendation to write. Most are for in-house things, so they should be easy, but man, I don't feel like dealing with them.

And then there is prep for tomorrow and some grading.

It promises to be a long and stupid day.

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