Thursday, May 7, 2015

A need to gloat

I like the English language. There are so many words with nuanced meanings. My word for today is gloat. I need to do some gloating to make myself feel better. I don't feel like I have anyone I can really gloat to (partly because I was raised with the notion that it's inconsiderate brag about one's successes, stupid catholics and their humbleness) so I'll do it here on the interwebz. The problem with being meek and humble in the professors line of work is that there is then very little to talk about besides complaining, and I don't like constantly being Mr. Negativity. I had a couple proposals rejected this week as everyone can commiserate with, but I also have a lot of successes in the pipeline. With the end of the semester approaching, there is a lot of time that I'm spending informally with my work colleagues at various graduation events, appreciation lunches, etc., and I don't really know what to talk about with them. They're not my friends, and they can't relate to anything in my life. None of them watch South Park or Family Guy, or go to see the Avengers movies, or follow any professional sports. They just have their work and their families. I don't really have much to say about their work, since they work on different things from me and I think some of them are wasting their time on stupid research (they probably think the same about my stuff) and I've never met most of their families. We don't really have many things organized that include families and the few times we tried almost everyone backed out at the last minute (going back on your word/promise/commitment: a whole separate pet peeve of mine).

So that leaves complaining and gloating. We don't have any clear-cut superstar in my department that does every aspect of their job well. I certainly don't either, but I wish we had that person that I could aspire to and gloat to because I know their doing great professionally and won't mind my sharing. Most of my colleagues are hurting on the research funding side even more than me. They also don't publish very much. I think we have 1 person currently that publishes more than me. I have 3 papers currently under review at decent journals, I'm revising 1 for resubmission, and I'm formatting one to submit that we've collected all the data for already. My students have another 3-4 in various stages of the pipeline where they are collecting the data. None of these will go to glamour journals, but it's all decent mid-society level work and I usually get them through without rejections these days. One might argue that I could be trying for higher level journals based on this fact, but I don't like dealing with the time delays and formatting hoops going down the journal ladder. Plus I'm going up for tenure and need to pad the old CV with "accepted" papers. I have a pet side research project that is going pretty well and I'm generally happy with my students. Maybe this isn't really gloating, but it feels like it in my mind, especially given that most of my colleagues can't make these statements.

So that is me right now. Also, what should I talk about with folks? Should I just stand around awkwardly, as is typical of nerdy academics? I think I offended some folks yesterday by complaining that I can't do things anymore with my friends that now have little kids. I guess I can share stories about how cute my pets are, but I think that makes me look weird as well.

1 comment:

  1. The first rule of small talk is to ask questions. Ask the people how long they've been here, where they lived before that, what part of town they live in, how they like it, how the prices of real-estate are, if they've been there longer than you ask for fun stuff to do over the weekend, sports/hiking/night life/art/music/theater. Even though they are parents, don't assume they are completely disinterested in getting out of the house.

    As for work, ask them for recent committee service, especially university level, ask for experience with promotion (people LOVE to give advice, ahem, guilty as charged). If they went to full recently, ask about their experience. Stuff like that.