Tuesday, 13 December 2005

My Morning: The Final Chapter On Thursday, two students somehow feel entitled to have relations in your office. You interrupt their passionate paroxysms. He cries sexual harassment. And wolf. And for his mother. She cries. And cries. And cries. Come Monday, the Sexual Harassment Police call you to "talk" about "the incident." You are asked to participate in a "fact-finding interview." You ask the investigator what this about and are informed that its purpose can be discussed it in detail on Friday. An hour later, you send the investigator an email asking for more information and the response contains nothing but a link to your employer's sexual harassment policy. On Wednesday you call the Sexual Harassment Police to confirm the time of your "fact-finding interview." The person who answers the phone informs you that your "hearing" will occur on Friday at 10:00 AM. "My hearing?!?" you interrobang. Only polite-like because you're from the South and in the South one interrobangs politely. Given this sequence of events, would you suppose that the student had followed through with his threat to file a sexual harassment complaint against you? The patently spoiled student swore a blood oath. The investigator stonewalled you. The secretary sprung a hearing on you. Things had spun out of control. So you don't sleep well . . . and when you muster some winks you dream about tar and torn down-pillows. You imagine yourself covered in the first feathering of countless young birds and everyone (denuded fowl included) points and laughs at you. You wake from these dreams dripping sweat and craving chicken. (You are determined to give those stripped striplings the what-for they so richly deserve.) So you wouldn't sleep that much. You would occupy the couch and watch terrible movies while your wife slept soundly in the bedroom. You would fear the hounds this indulged undergraduate loosed upon you. You would fear the investigator who refused to divulge details. You would fear your shadow and inadvertently damn New England to another six bitter winter weeks. Don't deny it. You would . . . . . . and in doing so you would involve yourself in the monumental misunderstanding that has been my life for the more than a week now. Today I have been thoroughly detenebrated. (Not defenestrated. In this house only cats are defenestrated. And only by other cats. And in good fun. Except for the defenestrated feline. Who was fine.) I have seen the errors of my cynical ways because today I learned that sometimes people are not out to destroy all I hold dear with hot tar and serious plumage. Turns out no one filed a complaint. Turns out the Sexual Harassment Police wondered whether I wanted to file one. Why couldn't the investigator have told me this over the phone last week? Why all the cryptic comments about coming in to discuss it? Apparently that's protocol in sexual harassment cases. The investigator prefers to question faces over voices. The investigator also cannot fathom how I would think a...
What I Will Have Done Over My Christmas "Vacation" A vacation? What would that be? A week in which you only think about your work instead of reading and writing about it? Some vacation. People think the academic life akin to the fine Southern tradition of sipping spirits on the long porch as the sun sets. Not quite. Between the moment I submit my grades and January 6th I will: Read every available article written by the panelists whose talks I will attend at the MLA so that when I work up the nerve to ask a question they won't assume they're being punk'd. Attend the MLA. Schmooze. Punk Michael Bérubé. Polish a nearly complete dissertation chapter on Silas Weir Mitchell and his evolutionarily-informed account of the Revolutionary War and its aftermath. Begin researching a dissertation chapter either on 1) utopianism and evolutionary thought in which I revisit the classic critical works about utopian thinking and smack 'em around for their social Darwinian assumptions or 2) race and evolutionary thought in popular literature and academic sociology. Shut it. There is logic there. Edit a manuscript I've been itching to read since it arrived but had to put aside because there are only so many hours in a day and my students had purchase on most of them. Learn Adobe InDesign. Create a template for the Valve's publishing venture. Begin bothering people to edit their contributions. Read for pleasure. Just kidding. Spend time with friends and family whose Christmas gifts have been purchased online and are being mailed to my parents' house in Houston. Inform parents not to open Amazon boxes which arrive lest they ruin Christmas for terminal orphans the world over. Blog. Blog. Blog. I'm not complaining. I love this life and couldn't imagine living another. My days and nights are spent thinking supremely deep thoughts about singularly important stuff. What more could I want out of life?

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