Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while may be starting to get the impression that I do not entirely enjoy faculty meetings. I believe at one point I raised the possibility that they cause brain damage. Or maybe that was grading.
Even so, I try to be a good department citizen and attend faculty meetings unless I am traveling. My level of participation, however, fluctuates quite dramatically from meeting to meeting, depending on the topic and my caffeine intake.
In the most recent faculty meeting, I was doing pretty well in terms of paying attention, participating, not making eye contact with certain sympathetic colleagues when insane and trollish colleagues spoke, and so on. At some point, though, I must have mentally vacated the premises. I was not aware of this, however, until tonight.
Tonight at dinner my husband said "What did you think about that strange episode at the faculty meeting when Colleague X started talking about Beowulf?" [note to readers: I am in a Science department. We are of course all intellectuals and into multi-inter-transdisciplinary studies, but we do not typically discuss literature at faculty meetings.]
I laughed, assuming he was making a joke in a highly oblique way, as is his wont. I said something random in reply, like "Oh yeah, and that was great when Colleague Z started quoting from the Upanishads." [note to readers: I totally made that up. Colleague Z did not quote from the Upanishads, or anything.] My husband was silent for a moment, as is not typically his wont, and then he said "Um, no really.. didn't you think it was kind of strange? He went on and on about it."
I was stunned. How could I have missed a long rambling speech on Beowulf at a faculty meeting? I was there and I remember Colleague X starting to speak about something, but I don't remember anything he said.
Colleague X is a truly excellent example of deadwood, but I don't think that is why I tuned him out. In fact, I will take this opportunity to say that just because a colleague is deadwood, that doesn't mean that they can't be immensely likable. I am very fond of this particular colleague, who is a very kind and amiable person who should retire soon.
In any case, I apparently did space out completely. I don't remember what I was thinking about, but it may have been one of the following:
- Which among the applicants for graduate work in my research specialty should I accept to work with me?
- Why do so many grad applicants start their research statement with a quotation? Is there some Guide To Applications that suggests doing this? Why would a grad applicant for a Ph.D. in Science quote Bob Dylan in their application? (Why isn't anyone quoting Beowulf?)
- I have been doing the most major cleaning of my office in the past decade, and maybe the biggest cleaning ever. I am contemplating throwing out some notebooks and textbooks I have kept since college and graduate school. Should I throw them out after all these years? Why keep them? Why not keep them? If I throw them out, after not looking at them for decades, will I then regret it?
- How do I reply to a stressed out author whose manuscript I am editing and who is trying to get out of doing major revisions without which his manuscript is inadequate in important respects? Should I accept his manuscript just so he will stop sending me emails about his wife's ghastly gynecological problems? No, I can't and won't do that, but I do wish he would stop sending me those emails. I do not know him. I do not know his wife (though I know a lot about her innards).
10 months ago