Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Fantasy About Leaving Zenith

My fantasy about leaving Zenith has a number of constituent parts. At one point, it included going to law school and becoming an activist attorney who did real things to help people. This idea developed in contradistinction to the line people often feed me about how important it is to teach elite students because it is they who will go out in the world and run things, and they need to learn from people "like me."

Oh right. This is a reason to go on living: molding future world leaders and captains of industry. Just call me the Handmaiden to the Stars.

I also had a fantasy about running for office, which faded precipitously when I realized it would require hours and hours of social events, a capacity to remember lots of names forever, eating dreadful food and making compromises with people I would, to my peril, learn not to despise, like Joe Lieberman and Trent Lott. This overlapped with a fantasy about going to work for a politician I could really believe in -- for example, being someone like Josh Lymon on the West Wing, or that neat-o feminist played by the woman who now plays a neat-o drug dealer on "Weeds."

I also have ongoing fantasies about running a feminist bookstore, and starting a feminist press, both of which would require money that I do not have.

The problem with all these possible second careers is also a drastically reduced amount of time for reading and writing, unless one becomes a true workaholic, and I believe I am a little over the hill for making that transformation. But you have probably figured this out, since someone who was a workaholic would have finished that second book despite the fact that it was raining crap during the Unfortunate Events. And I am spiritually devoted to reading and writing -- although possibly less so right now to the teaching part of the Job, even though it gives me pleasure on a regular basis. I just sometimes wonder what the point is in the larger scheme of things, given what education has become. But never mind. That's an age thing, and I suspect happiness in teaching just comes and goes after the first decade or so.

So my current fantasy -- which is fueled this time of year by March Madness -- is leaving Zenith for a job at a school with a great Division I women's basketball program, and that they would persuade me to leave Zenith in the end by guaranteeing me season tickets every year. Looking at this year's bracket, this realistically narrows the field for future employment to Stanford, Tennessee, the University of Connecticut, Oklahoma, Duke, Maryland, University of North Carolina, Rutgers, and LSU. I can't see myself at Marist (they're Catholic, I'm gay) or North Carolina State (I know Kay Yow is very brave, but no.) I think Oklahoma is off the list too, partly because it is in Oklahoma, but also because of global warming and that Dust Bowl thing. Tennessee? Maybe. But my understanding from La Principessa, who spent a year in Nashville on a fellowship, is that lesbian life is pretty grim in the mountain south.

So this leaves us with Stanford, Duke, UNC, UConn, Maryland, Rutgers and LSU. We're getting there. It's very expensive to live in Palo Alto, but my feeling is that the job offer will come with a significant raise and a low-interest loan to buy a lovely house. If it was Maryland, we could live in DC -- although my affection for that town is matched by N's dislike of it. On the other hand, since I am now a UConn fan (and secondarily, a Rutgers fan), why leave winners to go to a program that hasn't made the Final Four in some time? If it were UConn, I wouldn't have to move, even though the daily commute might be a tad grim. LSU is an option, although there is the lesbian problem, which I discovered during the Pokey Chatman debate (I had thought Louisiana was where they invented sexual deviance) -- I don't want to have it alleged that I am doing my students and lose my whole blog fan base. On the other hand, Combat Philosopher lives in Louisiana, and I bet he would stand up for me. I already failed to get a job at UNC about twenty years ago, but I am not taking it personally. And I do think -- in comparison to Duke -- it might suit my politics better to work at a public school.

OK. Realistically, in this order I think, my options are: Rutgers, UConn, UNC, Stanford, Duke and LSU. In that order. I will be entertaining job offers in the comments section, so please fell free to put together a package for me to consider.


Siva Vaidhyanathan said...

Hey! You left Texas off the list! Austin is the once-and-future capitol of women's basketball!

Sure, we are down now. And with the great Jodi Conradt retiring, we will have some friction and frustration in the transition to greatness again. But the future is sure to be great!

Think about it. I can make some calls ...

anthony grafton said...

Come to Rutgers! Who could resist the siren call of NJ?

As for the job: I have always found teaching incredibly enjoyable. I love teaching kids who will become scholars and writers--and though the majority of them don't do this, a good many have. I love teaching kids who will become self-sacrificing adults--not that I'm one, or ever have been!--and will spend time in the armed forces or working in third world countries or running innovative schools in the poorest parts of American cities (and again, a lot of my students have done these things). Finally, I love teaching smart kids who make fun of me, and occasionally learn something while they're at it, before they go off to rule the world (majority plan). How could you not love the kids who once wrote, in a student paper, "Our greatest fear is that Professor Grafton's head will fall off and we'll all be crushed to death." That--plus my inability to do anything else--is why I stay in the business.

The Combat Philosopher said...

True, I would stand up for you at LSU, but I do not recommend it.

Although there is actually a reasonable gay scene in Louisiana, it all has to be played soto voce, so to speak (I bet that is spelt wrong too!).

The problems here are;

(1) Freaking Hurricanes! This is looking like another bad season coming up. Although Baton Rouge is not likely to get hit directly, it would still be in the refugee 'blast zone', if anything came close.

(2) Most of the Universities in this State are run like plantations. Students have some power, because they are like the crop. Faculty have little power, due to their assigned role. The good ol' boy problem would also probably drive you nuts. You would also need to be on that network to get the offer anyhow.

(3) Although you may find the pampered students annoying, would you really want to trade them for functionally illiterate ones?

(4) All the ills you describe at Zenith are available in this neck of the woods, but in spades.

(5) As a town, Baton Rouge is quite simply dreadful. The only real culture is to be found in the dairy case of the supermarket.

So, I would scratch LSU off the list. Sorry.

The Combat Philosopher

Lesboprof said...

Girl, girl, girl. The UNC coach is not a friend. While Chapel Hill is fun and nearby Carrboro is wonderful, it doesn't make up for Sylvia.

RU and Duke are a good choice, as is NC State (really, better than you think!, but not as friendly as the first two)... Durham NC is great, as I have noted before, and there are more lesbians than one would imagine.

Maryland is good b/c you don't have to live in DC, just near it. That way, N can pretend it is far away and you can go in for the urban gay vibe.

Anonymous said...

OK, OK. But some of us at Zenith love you dearly and don't want you going anywhere. Besides, as Combat Philosopher said, the crap is spread around pretty evenly acorss higher education, basketball notwithstanding. As for the non-Zenith fantasies, well, sure. My fantasies involve Wellesley (I actually am not a big fan of single-sex education, but it is in the Boston area and I have a soft spot for liberal arts colleges), NYU or CUNY. Either that or restaurant critic, or early some non-daycare job studying early childhood.

Lesboprof said...

Is it wrong to have dreams about a university that require that most of the current faculty in my discipline leave, retire, or become somehow incapacitated, including the dean, and that they hire someone great to be the dean who would then hire me for the perfect job?? I mean, only half the faculty and administration would have to go...

Anonymous said...

Some Zenith students would very much like you to stay. Plus, you can ALWAYS get a front row seat at our basketball games.

Horace said...

As a former terp, I can recommend it highly, and your partner can live in Baltimore, which has an appeal all its own...

And, despite the early final four exit (on both sides), the basketball really is happening.

Siva Vaidhyanathan said...

Update: The University of Texas just interviewed Gail Goestenkors of Duke!!!!!!

Hook'em Horns!

Anonymous said...

Indiana U not only has a great history and huge fan base for it's basketball programs (men's and women's), but it also has a PhD granting program in genders studies. Those of us here who are coastal transplants expected the worse and have found Bloomington to be more gay than a Rosie cruise. The community here is awesome. And since your comment about Oklahoma seems to be based in regionalism, be sure to check out the voting record for the last couple years. No, Indiana is not blue, but it's becoming more purple and bluish in parts.

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