Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Someone's Not Missing Missing The Convention.

Dear Search Committee,

No, I’m not going to the Annual Conference for my yearly round of humiliation. Yes, I know this is where you and every other department on the planet are holding your first round of interviews. Yes, I know the conference is a great “networking” opportunity; I’ve been a billiion times before. And this time, I’m giving it a pass.

Why, you ask? Why aren’t you chomping at the bit at the opportunity to leave your comfortable sunbelt home to fly (at your own expense) into a blizzard-infested bit of hell, stay in yet another overpriced industrial hotel, and be forced into awkward conversations with all the people interviewing for the same jobs as you?

And why on earth don’t you love the wonderful networking opportunity presented by those spontaneous get-togethers at the end of the day— you know, the ones where you run into someone you actually want to talk to and plan to have dinner–except that he or she has to wait for a colleague whom he or she has also previously promised to have dinner with. And that colleague brings along several first-year graduate students straight off the short bus, and as you’re leaving the hotel, several other people who marginally know you or one of the others decide to tag along. Then the two dozen of you get to spend quality time together wandering the streets of an unfamiliar city, looking for a restaurant that serves non-dairy/nut-free food and whose entrees are under $5 (in consideration of the graduate students, of course). And these places never have booze.

Oh, and then there are the interviews themselves: despite having a well-received book published, stellar teaching evaluations, reasearch grants up the wazoo, I always get to be the “minority woman” candidate. ‘How would you make your research program relevant to pregnant dyslexic undocumented immigrants on parole?’ I truly enjoy the mental exercise of forcing myself not to reply “Why the bloody fuck should I?”

And then there are those 15-minute “research” talks that no one ever cites and don’t help anyone’s CV except maybe those of the mentally- challenged first-years. And the sight of all those grubby homeless people wandering around the lobby of the hotel—and the horrifying realization that they are not actually homeless, just there for the conference. Running the interviews. And they always look that way.

So I'm skipping it this year. But you all have a great time!