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The Year of 40

So, I am officially 40 now, even though I started celebrating 3 weeks early.  And, to my surprise, I have been carded four times when attempting to purchase alcohol in that time, and one of those times the young whippersnapper cashier at Kroger actually disputed my ID – I said, “No, I just had short hair then,” and he said, “I know this is you, but there is no way you were born in 1974.  I was thinking 1982 tops, but more like 1985.”  I also have had a bunch of people randomly comment positively on how great I look.  I can only put it down to the fact that I am wearing heavy bangs and they cover my forehead wrinkles?

In other news, professional things proceed apace.  I am totally overwhelmed and busy, but all goes well.

And then there is the whole “dating two guys” thing.  Footloose and The Mailman remain in the picture, and I’ve been out on three dates a piece with them.  Of those three dates per suitor, I have cooked dinner for each once.  I think they are both great, in equal and opposite ways.  One is very cool, and he inspires me to be cooler.  One is very relaxed, and he inspires me to be very relaxed. Those are just two examples.  Who the fuck knows.

But if you would have told me that I would be dating two great guys and feeling great about my professional life and have a great crew of friends and feel like there are too many great things to do to the extent that I am exhausted (though righteously so) at 40 years old, say, when I was 38?  I would not have believed you.

Turns out, 40 is the most fabulous age ever.  First day of school is tomorrow.  I should be asleep, but alas, I got totally off schedule over the summer.  The good news is my first class is at 11 AM tomorrow, and I got totally ready for Day 1 and 2 when I went into the office on Saturday.

Random thing: If you’re not watching The Witches of East End on lifetime, and if you were a Buffy fan?  YOU SHOULD BE.

What shall his pseudonym be?  My mom immediately began calling him “Footloose” when I told her about him, for apparently “Minister’s Son from Nebraska” to her translates directly into Kevin Bacon using the bible to convince a town to allow the dancing.  At any rate, I cannot decide something of this magnitude right now, but it may be that “Footloose,” unfortunately, will stick.

So we had our second date tonight, which was, as the first date was, absolutely perfect.  I have to say, I have never gone out with anybody like him.  Which is saying something, particularly given the fact that I have gone out with like 20 different men in the past year. He is “both a gentleman and yet not… “nice.”  I mean, he doesn’t put on the whole “I’m a nice guy” thing.  If I were to pick the top adjectives to describe him, I would say he is friendly, direct, interesting, genuine, thoughtful, confident, driven, and smart.  He isn’t terribly funny – like he’s not a “funny guy” – but I laugh a lot when I am with him. And I really love talking to him.  There is never an awkward pause, and it never feels like we are doing “date conversation.”  And while he’s not an academic, because he’d been on that path and then veered off it, I never have to explain anything to him.  It’s just… easy.  And FUN.

I will say, I do feel a little off balance with him.  Like, I know he is interested in me, but I’m not certain about how interested he is.  He isn’t demonstrably enthusiastic.  And since I am a person who is, just generally, enthusiastic, I don’t quite know how to read people who aren’t.  I mean, I know that he wants to see me again, and I know that he is attracted to me, but I am having a hard time judging the level of his interest.  What is probably the truth is that he is just taking things slowly – though not too slowly at all!  I think he is enjoying getting to know me, actually.  And I am enjoying getting to know him, so I need to get out of my head.

Of course, part of the reason that I’m in my head is because I am also dating the Mailman.  Who clearly is enthusiastic about me, even though I am pretty clearly, I realize now, “meh” about him.  I mean, I like him and I enjoy spending time with him, but it’s not, like, awesome.  I feel like I will go out with each of them one more time, and then I should be in a position to know for sure what I want.  What I think right now is that the Mailman feels like a Plan B, and I am not really a Plan B sort of person.  But I don’t want to act hastily, so I’ll just have to see how things develop (or not).

But, man, was tonight great.  Great, great, great.

 

So, as I indicated a few months ago, I am applying for promotion to full professor this fall.  Here is what I wrote then:

It has become apparent that I must apply for promotion to full professor in the fall, even though I am in no way certain of actually getting it.  However, it hurts me not at all to apply, while the effect of me going up alongside others who will be applying will potentially have a positive effect, whether I get recommended for promotion or not.  So.  (Note: I am insecure about my application for reasons that have little to do with my CV.  The tiny bit of myself that is insecure because of my CV is basically because of how I was “mentored” by senior professors in my department, even though my research is in fact stronger than any of theirs was when they applied for promotion to full.)

 

Let me amplify this tiny paragraph a bit.  What I said about “mentoring” was an oblique way of me saying that I was actively discouraged (in some cases) and benignly ignored (in others) when I asked for advice about preparation to achieve full.  And sure, I’ve done more than these assholes in my department who are the first hoop through which I must jump (all white males over the age of 50 – that’s right, we don’t have a single female full professor in our department, let alone anybody of any sex who is a person of color) have done in terms of scholarship, but that isn’t really my problem, at the end of the day.  My “problem” (I put it in scare quotes because I’m sure they would) is the fact that I have been doing the work of three or four fucking people since attaining associate professor and tenure, and while I have been “thanked” (those are my scare quotes), I have not been recognized in any tangible way for my fucking excellence and for the fact that apparently I’m an unstoppable workaholic.  In fact, the most “recognition” (my scare quotes again) I have received is to have a giant target on my fucking back and to be vilified for the good work that I do.  Oh, and to have administrators let people vilify me in the interest of letting “everybody have a voice.” (To be clear: I don’t think assholes who suck at their job should ever have a voice.  Because I am a little bit of a fascist in my heart. Or at the very least a monarch who believes in the Divine Right of Queens.)

Anyway, one of the things that has been preoccupying me this summer is the putting together of my promotion application. In some ways, this has perhaps been more preoccupying than it would have been in years previous, or in years subsequent to this one.  See, we’ve got a new dean and a new provost who are entirely untested.  Who knows what they will think? This, of course, leads one to flights of fancy where one tries to imagine “WHAT WILL THEY THINK WHEN THEY LOOK AT THIS EMAIL SAYING THAT I WRITE CLEAR AND ELEGANT PROSE?  SHOULD I INCLUDE IT?”.  I have no concrete evidence of what they think matters. Further, this is the “transition year” between submitting a physical binder (ONE AND ONLY ONE BINDER) and submitting all materials (NO SPACE LIMITATIONS) in an electronic format.  Now, I WELCOME the electronic format.  BUT, given the fact that all my department focused on for the past 10 years was using a highlighter (like, a HIGHLIGHTER) and putting all your shit in plastic sleeves (because that is “professional”), as opposed to talking about the CONTENT one should have for either earning tenure or earning full promotion (“We don’t want to limit people”), one is in a position of constructing this application without any guidance.

Luckily, the electronic format my institution has settled on is to build your application in Blackboard, which I am very comfortable using.  And I had a 40-minute meeting with an instructional tech person and that answered any questions I did have.  Further I have always measured myself against the standards of my field, so I am comfortable with my achievements in teaching, research, and service.  In fact, in putting everything together, I am more than comfortable.

Let’s also note that I’ve developed EIGHT brand new courses since applying for tenure in 2008, I have a clear and consistent publication record – which I won’t detail here but which, while not R1 quality, does clearly meet the standards of my institution if not exceed them – and I spear-headed the first revision of our major in 30 years, and I was an integral worker in changing our General Education requirements, and I chaired committees… yeah, I feel like FUCK YOU to anybody who would dare to deny me.

But, see, this FUCK YOU is kind of the point of this post. First, I think wanting to fuck people over is a really shitty reason to apply for promotion, even though that is a strong motivation of mine.  Second, I don’t believe really that I will be evaluated on the basis of my accomplishments, nor do I believe that those accomplishments will actually be weighed fairly against other people’s.  Third, I think it really sucks that I am operating in a vacuum in compiling these materials and that I don’t feel comfortable being open about my desire to achieve full promotion or to ask for advice.

So what I’m doing in my application is this fucked up passive-aggressive thing where I promote myself but I also draw attention to everything that other people aren’t doing.  I am daring them to deny my promotion, as opposed to seeking promotion.  And I am passionately pushing myself forward, while also surreptitiously tearing other people down.  This is all fucked up and wrong.  And I hate it.  And it shouldn’t be what happens.

And I certainly shouldn’t be thinking that it’s ok if they deny me promotion as long as they deny the people that I don’t believe should get it.  That makes me not only a dick, but also an intellectually dishonest dick.

That said, those motherfuckers had better fucking vote to make me a full professor.  Because I fucking deserve it.

I have this theory about internet dating.  I think that the reason it feels so bizarre for (many) people of my generation, Generation X, is that we never really learned how to date.  For myself, and for most of my friends, relationships historically began by “hanging out” and “hooking up,” and the first date only happened after one or both of those things had happened.  “Dating” was never really something that I did (much to my mother’s dismay). What internet dating does is actually put us into a situation that’s sort of from the 1950s.  You see multiple people, you don’t commit until after you’ve weighed them against one another, and you never experience an “insta-relationship.”  If you’re doing it right.  (I have, historically, done it wrong.)

So I have been on two dates in two days with new fellows.  Both of these fellows on paper have many things in common. Both majored in English (this is the first time ever I have dated people who majored in English in college), both like all of the movies and music that I like.  Both have decent taste in books (or, even if I disagree with their taste, they have read the books so that I can disagree with them, which is a delight.)

One is a Giant (6’6″) and a mailman.

The other is a Leprechaun (a slight fellow who is 5’10”) and who does IT related things for a non-profit.

The Giant grew up here, and the Leprechaun grew up in a square state with amber waves of grain.

I think, at the moment, that the Leprechaun is in the lead.  While I had fun with the Giant last night (dinner, pub trivia), tonight’s date with the Leprechaun was probably the best first date I’ve ever been on (we met for drinks, went for a walk, ended up at a great Japanese restaurant for sushi – and let’s note, I had thought to myself that I’d have a drink and then come home).

But it’s weird.  I am doing nothing wrong.  I am not being dishonest with anyone, or being unfair or misleading to anyone.  But it still feels weird to be “seeing” two men.  And I don’t quite know how to navigate “seeing” two men.  Nor do I know how I will handle ending it with one if the other ends up being somebody I want to see exclusively.  See, historically, the “seeing each other exclusively” conversation has not, for me, ever involved another person.  It’s all so WEIRD.

Right now I am making no decisions.  I need to ride it all out a bit more.  That said?  They are both lovely men.  And it is totally bizarre to inhabit a position where I allow two lovely men to take me out on dates without giving them a thing and without getting rid of one or the other.  But hey, I’ve only been out once with each of them.  The way I figure it, I have at least one more with each before I’m obligated to figure it the fuck out.

Side note: worst thing about dating is the need to wear eyeliner and mascara – or, really, to take those cosmetics off at the end of the night.

I don’t turn 40 for a couple of weeks.  But classes start the Monday after my birthday, so my “birthday weekend” needs to be fairly quiet.  So I decided, as one does, to get the party started a bit early.

Note: I’m not freaked out at all about the Big 4-0.  Indeed, I’m excited to be in my “early 40s” as opposed to my “late 30s.”  And nearly all of my friends are 40+ so 40 seems like a GREAT age to be!  And I don’t feel like this birthday is that big of a deal, but a lot of other people seem to think that it is.  I have a theory that part of the reason so many people (my mother, some family and friends, etc.) are putting so much emphasis on this birthday is because I’ve never had a wedding and I’ve never had a baby.  They, I think, feel like this is my Last Chance for a Big Party.  Do these people even KNOW me?  Ha!

So. I went on a journey to Grad School City (on Frequent Flier Miles!  It was FREE!) to visit with Grad School Best Friend (Dr. Medusa, for old time-y readers), Naomi (a high school best friend who got her PhD and is now on the tenure-track in the Greater Grad School City Area), and J (another friend who recently moved to the Greater Grad School City Area for her job).  The last time Naomi and J. had seen one another (the first time they saw one another) was my 30th birthday.  Nobody had ever met Medusa.  Whatever!  My friends are grand!  It would be grand!

It WAS grand!  The main celebration was Friday. Wine! Me outside of Medusa’s house texting her, “Why am I alone outside?” which really is an existential question for the ages, but mainly we were going to our ride that was there and all of my friends are slowpokes. Tapas at the most festive restaurant! A return to a Grad School Haunt, which really is the Land that Time Forgot, in that all of the people are different and yet all of the same scenarios are being played out!  Home to Medusas for drinks and dancing and fun!

And then the other days.  Thursday with Medusa drinking wine and looking at old pictures – taken on CAMERAS!  With FILM!  That you needed to have developed before you knew what the pics looked like!  Our constant refrain: “This is when we were young and beautiful.”  And singing along to a record from that time! Saturday hung over and eating Mexican food! Sunday with Naomi watching Drunk History On Demand!  Today – breakfast with Naomi and lunch with Medusa!

I did no work, and I did not think about work.  I bonded with my ladies and I appreciated the fact that I have such amazing and fabulous friends.

Up next: dates with two new suitors this week, a party for my friend S.’s birthday that I’m hosting next weekend, and then my actual birthday!

40 is FABULOUS!  Even if I’m not quite 40 yet :)

So I realized today that it is somewhere near my TENTH blogiversary. That’s right, readers, Dr. Crazy has been at this whole blogging thing for ten years just about now. I don’t recall the actual date (for I’ve changed locations 2 times since the first version, and I can’t be bothered to figure out the actual date), just that I started at some point in July (during the Republican Convention I think?  I know there was convention blogging, in part about a bizarre fixation I had on Tucker Carlson at that time, and I surely was seeing a fellow whom I named “Stupid Freud”) of 2004, assuming that I would quit almost immediately.  But I didn’t quit.  I still haven’t quit.  Weird, huh?

Lots of people from when I started are now gone, or mostly gone.  Indeed, a lot of those people from the very early days are now my facebook friends and that is how I keep in touch with them. But along the way new people have found their way here, too.  I don’t look at stats at all anymore, because I guess I don’t need to know that people are reading?  And/or I’m not paranoid about who is reading? And I am totally open now about claiming the blog as something that I write, in a way that I surely wasn’t in early days.  How I figure it now is that most everybody in the world knows who I “really” am, and that is really ok.

Although, to be fair, I did learn from BFF that she met a person at a conference who was talking about my blog and who didn’t know who I was, so I suppose there are still some people out there for whom Dr. Crazy is a mystery.  Why have I never gone public for real?  Well, a couple of things.  First, I think people like a Dr. Crazy being out there, and I think it would change things for them if I explicitly outed myself.  As Dr. Crazy, I can be an “everywoman” of sorts. Second, I do think that it would change the way that I write and the kinds of things that I write about if this site were the first thing that came up with googling my real-life name. I’m not saying I’ll never reveal my real-life identity in an explicit way, but I suppose I’m not sure what the value of that would be for this space, at least not right now. I have never seen my blogging as a professional vehicle – in fact, what I loved about it was that it WASN’T a line on the cv – and I really am not interested in seeing it as that. So who knows what the future holds, but this is it, for the time being.  If you’re dying to know who I am in real life I’ll tell you, and if you find out who I am I don’t actually care.  But I think there is value in the “character” of Dr. Crazy, as it were.

But so once upon a time, Michael Berube (and I can’t be bothered to do the accent marks properly, because I am lazy, but he is delightful and generous so I know he won’t judge me) wrote a blog post about my very first Dr. Crazy incarnation, in which he described my blog as “raw.”  And, well, looking back, that blog WAS raw.  I was a newly minted Ph.D. and I was only a year into a tenure-track gig (and I only defended my dissertation a week before my contract started for that job).  And blogging was this new and uncharted territory way back in 2004, and lotsa people were writing “raw” blogs, and I ended up blogging on a whim and the whole point, or so I saw it at the time, was to confess the TRUTHS of what it was to be an assistant professor, and the TRUTHS of feeling alienated and at sea in a new place, and oh, who the fuck knows, but that was what I was doing.  And then somebody threatened to out me, and I decided that I should acknowledge that threat and yet not acquiesce to it but yet move to a different space to signal that I would be slightly less raw.  And then I earned tenure and was on sabbatical and thought that I needed to move to yet another space to acknowledge that transition.  And so here I am now.

And what I realize is this: I no longer write a “raw” blog.  That said, I don’t think it’s fully cooked either.  I think that I give a par-boiled representation of things these days.  I still care about personal writing, about authentic and not-for-publication, not-for-reputation writing, but the reality is that since I’ve earned tenure I know a lot more, and I have a lot more to say, but I also feel much more limited in what I can say authentically on a blog.  Tenure does not give you license to say anything anywhere anytime. It gives you the privilege to fight certain battles, and it gives you the authority to do certain things at your institution.  But, frankly, it also gave me a lot more information than I had before, and a lot of that information is stuff I can’t just bitch about on a blog.  In some ways, I am much more careful about what I say on-blog post-tenure.  And in some ways, I actually think that this is the right thing.  I’m not sure that I believe anymore in the whole CONFESSING THE TRUTHS thing.  I realize now that what I think is true is a fuck of a lot more contingent and that there are things I certainly don’t know.

That said, I still try, in this space, to TELL the truth, if not to confess it or to preach it.  If that makes sense.

So yeah, I am considering this my blogiversary post, even though it might be early or late from the actual date. And I hope that this blog is still entertaining for people, or helpful to people, or whatever, even though I recognize that I am kind of a shitty blogger these days, in terms of frequency and even in terms of the interest-level of my posts.  And also that I recognize that only Comrade Physioproffe is interested in my golf-blogging :) (By the way: we finally used the drivers today, and while it is not my best skill, as long as I manage not to have anybody watching me and I don’t actually allow myself to think I do ok.)

Ten fucking years, people.  How is that even possible?!?!

Did he plagiarize? YES.

Should he be called out for plagiarizing? YES. (And all of us teachers can use this as a great example when we talk about plagiarism with our students, which for me is the only productive takeaway from this.)

Am I going to be a Zizek apologist on this one? NO.

But I will admit that what is most interesting to me about this whole “scandal” is that I suspect that a lot of this sort of thing goes on in academic journals, particularly when we’re talking about reviews, which don’t really “count” as publications.  If we went through every review in every academic journal, and if we scrutinized each and every one, I feel like (and no, I don’t have evidence, for this is a feeling) we would find a lot of language that is repeated without attribution, not because that is ok (for it is NOT) but rather because of sloppy scholarship and, frankly, sloppy work on the part of editors.  Honestly, in this case I wondered whether the blog that originally published the language that Zizek used actually got that language from a third source, The Source of It All.

 

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