Saturday, November 19, 2005

dinner with faculty

Day 83
19 November 2005

[Ed. note: I've made a policy decision to refer to any and all faculty members referenced on this blog by nicknames. It's not that I'm that familiar with all of them; in person I still call most of them "Dr. So-and-so." However, there are some privacy concerns with using their real names, especially since none of them are aware of this blog and hence are unable to give consent. Also, I'm really excited that I've learned the html tag for italics. That is all.]

Had a progressive dinner with three faculty members and some other grad students on Friday. I love interacting with faculty outside of class time, and the other students were all people I knew (Brook, Kim, Jason) so I had a really good time. Herewith, the gory details:

Salad with the Renaissance Guru (and Mrs. Guru): I hate to sound girly, but my first impression when I walked in the door at the Gurus' house was that I loved the decor. Kind of minimal, very cool wood furniture that I would describe broadly as mission style. Dr. and Mrs. Guru were very conversible, and I felt comfortable with them even though I'd never met them before. The conversation was fun, but the highlight of the proceedings (for me at least) was when Dr. Guru pulled out his (small) collection of rare books and showed us a first edition of John Donne. It was amazing to hold a piece of literary history in my hands. I did not, technically, shed actual tears, but it was close. My excuse is that I'm still pretty hormonal after my last pregnancy.

Dinner with Dr. Victoria, Mr. Victoria, and their three boys under the age of eight: Victoria favored us with alfredo from the Brick Oven. Yum. Mr. Victoria is a curator in Special Collections at the library, so there was some discussion about that. I had no idea that they let undergrads look at Special Collections. Admittedly, I never tried to look at them when I was an undergrad, but that's becuase I just assumed they wouldn't let me. I'm ashamed to say I don't even know where they're located. At some point during the conversation I confessed to liking the way books smell, and was surprised to hear the sentiment echoed by my associates. I still think I'm weird, but it makes me feel better to know that I'm not the only one who's weird in this particular way.

Dessert with the Dr. Modernist, Mrs. Modernist, and their three girls under the age of, um, we'll say ten: there was something faintly bohemian about the fact that the Modernists let their three kids stay up late to hang out with us. I can't imagine that the discussion about tenure, research, etc. was very entertaining for the kids, but they seemed to take it all in stride. Dr. Modernist and his wife regaled us with anecdotes about the years when they were poor grad students living in roach-infested Florida apartments ... and in other news, I have officially crossed Florida off my list of places to go for my PhD. Interestingly, Dr. Modernist seemed to find his PhD much more stressful than working toward tenure. He likened working on a PhD to prostitution - not only do you have to say what they want you to say, you have to pretend you like it. It sounds like he had a worse experience with his PhD than some other people I've talked to, though. At one point his advisor sent him what amounted to a Dear John via email. (They subsequently worked it out.) Modernist and his wife were so convivial that we all ended up staying for a couple of hours. Two very comforting things that I took away from the conversation: 1) you can support a family on an assistant professor's salary; and 2) you can still have a life outside of work even when you're working toward tenure.

1 comment:

Victory said...

I love, love, love the smell of books! Oh, and I used the special collections a couple of times when I was an undergrad. You can't take your backpack in, pencils only for notes, and they make the copies for you. Seemed dumb at the time, but since I've learned more about book preservation, I think it's very cool. That's just the kind of nerd I am.