Tuesday, 26 July 2005

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Me? I'm the Last Person You Ought to Respect! In the comments to the previous post, Mike S. asked how do you find the time to (a) read and (modestly) review sizable literary anthologies, (b) remain (somewhat) hard at work on that curious dissertation of yours, (c) sift through God knows how many highfalutin weblogs, (d) attend classes, and (e) lavish your wife with attention? My initial response employed the truism that it always seems like the person to your immediate left has four of five more hours in the their day than you do in yours. (That's right, Holbo, I'm looking at you.) The more I thought about it the more I understood that I do have quite the work ethic, but here's the thing: I've cultivated it in such a way that it doesn't feel like a work ethic so much as a life. I spend probably 14 hours a day--and now that summer's here, I spend almost 14 hours every day--either sitting at my desk writing or reading online or with my desk chair swivelled around and my feet propped up on the bed reading books, journals, magazines, &c. When I confess to Mike that I'm a very boring person, well, I'm not kidding. I'm a veritable shut-in, the kind of person who wakes up one morning and realizes that the sexy stubble he'd created with his beard trimmer what seemed like just yesterday has become quite the manly beard, complete with chops. (I am, however, a shut-in of the bathing variety. I bathe every single day and brush my teeth at least three times per diem. And according to a self-selecting group of former students, even my minimalist approach to grooming's enough to keep my "hotness quotient" hovering around 71.49 percent. But I digress.) So one answer to Mike's question is that my possibly pathological fear of leaving the apartment improves the quality of my scholarship. I'll return to my actual work habits momentarily, but first I want to address some of the other issues Mike raises: Your academic background is, I can't help but notice, just a wee bit prolific, vastly more so than my own. Honors undergraduate program? Rigorous Latin studies? A.B.D. at one of the nation's most respected English departments? You've done pretty well for yourself. Not to mention the fact you've been married for how many years is it, 5, 6? All I can say to this is that it's very easy to make the accomplishments of others look planned. But a little "behind-the-scenes" look at my academic career will demonstrate that much of what seems planned or earned is actually the result of circumstances I never could have anticipated. I'll take this compliment-by-compliment: Mike mentions that I'm an Honors Scholar, i.e. that all of my introductory classes at LSU were taught by Honors professors in the Honors College. What Mike doesn't realize is that my being in the Honors College was a complete fluke. I've mentioned before that one thing people would never guess about me is that I graduated...

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