Saturday, August 26, 2006

Affecting, flattering, and frightening items of the week

Item 1: Affecting

Yesterday I got the mail at home and found a small, elegant envelope addressed to "Prof. FirstName Virago" (what would Dr. Virago's first name be, btw?) in my dissertation director's unmistakable handwriting and blue ink. (Maybe he uses black, too, but all I can ever recall is blue.) Inside was an architecture review from his Big City newspaper about The Rust Belt Museum's latest expansion. (Think the Milwaukee Museum of Art's expansion and you'll get the sense of what a Big Deal this has been for Rust Belt.) At the top of the review -- which was glowingly positive -- was a note that said "Dear FirstName -- Sounds/looks good in Rust Belt! From today's Big City Paper. Best, HisFirstName."

I found this so utterly touching and sweet. First of all, he's Mr. Sophisticated, so he's probably been thinking all this time, since I got this job, that I'd been exiled to some hideous existence on the fringes of civilization, and was delighted to see that the savages do have some culture after all. I say this warmly -- he does have a snobby streak, but I think he works hard not to act on the first impulses of that snobbishness. But the main reason I was so affected by it is that it was something my mother would have done. Actually, she would have *loved* the Director. They both had/have penchants for the color green, fine art, all things European, and fine cuisine, and they both were/are decent, kind people with snobby streaks they tried not to express, for that just wouldn't be polite. But more to the point, my Mom used to cut out and send me articles about things of interest to me in just the same way -- in an envelope by itself with a note written on the top on the article. Honestly, it almost made me cry.

Item 2: Flattering, but also freakin' frightening

So I have a friend visiting this weekend, who used to be a grad student in our program -- he's currently galavanting about with another friend in town, so I'm not ignoring him, I swear. Let's call him Big Teutonic Queer, an epithet I came up with last night while imitating someone in the department who was clearly uneasy in BTQ's presence, and which BTQ loved so much that he's been referring to himself by it all day today. Anyway, last night Big Teutonic Queer went out drinking with our department chair and while BTQ didn't come back with the best gossip ever -- dammit! -- he did come back with a little nugget that set my heart pounding with a strange combination of pride and abject fear. Apparently, Chair said that she has to take a sabbatical soon or she's be thrown off the whole sabbatical rotation, but she has to wait until I get tenure so that there's someone she trusts to run the department in her stead.

Uh....Squeeze me? Baking powder? Gosh and golly, I'm flattered, but um, no. There will be no chairing of departments right after I'm tenured, interim or not. And I think the department might have some say in this anyway. (Yeah, ya think?) But still, it's nice that she thinks I could take that on.

All in all, I feel so "grown up"!


tommy said...

I was going to say Virago's first name might be Santiaga, but after a little research, I've come to realize that's not quite right.

Come on, get yourself tenured already. If I were the chair of anything, I'd probably need a break too. I'm currently sitting in a chair in my kitchen, so I guess that makes me the chair of the kitchen department. Does that count?

What Now? said...

I think it did wonders for my diss. director's view of Small City when the Big City newspaper's travel section did a big front-page feature of it a few years ago. She too cut it out and sent it to me with a nice handwritten note in her completely distinctive writing. Lovely!

Ancrene Wiseass said...

Excellent on both counts!