Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Better Late Than Never...

After a (too) long absence on this blog, I am happy to report that things are beginning to slow down enough in the Life-of-Doctor-J to make my return here possible. I'm in the process of marking final papers and exams now. Grades are due on Monday. Commencement will follow shortly after that (May 10). Then, at long last, I will be able to "officially" deposit my first year at Rhodes in the bank.


It's been a good year on the whole. I gave a couple of talks this semester (at UT-Chattanooga and my alma mater, U. of Memphis). I submitted my manuscript to a publisher (Routledge). I gained some on-the-job wisdom by making a couple of relatively harmless rookie mistakes (like over-enrolling my Feminist Philosophy class). And I didn't get fired. That's something.

A lot has been happening in the lives of my friends and fellow bloggers as well. I wanted to take the opportunity to officially congratulate three of my closest and dearest friends on the completion of their PhD's. Ashley Vaught (aka "Chet") is a newly minted Doctor of Philosophy from Villanova University, as is my favorite woman in the world Adriel Trott. Adriel is also moving to south, SOUTH Texas this summer to start a new tenure-track job at the University of Texas-Pan American, which is especially hilarious since Trott is like the living, breathing incarnation of Philly. Last but not least, Kyle Grady, my fellow emigré, is a newly minted Doctor of Philosophy from Penn State. Kyle is still in Bulgaria, sadly, and I still miss him something awful. I'm so proud of my friends. Way to go, y'all.

I've got a lot of stories to share from this year, but I'll try to spread them out over the next several weeks. Here's a teaser, though, which relates to the picture above:

That picture is a photograph of the "cloister" in Palmer Hall at my academic home, Rhodes College. It's a little hard to see in this picture, but on the floor there is the seal of the College, which reads "Truth. Loyalty. Service." The superstition at Rhodes is that if you step on the seal when you are walking down the hallway of Palmer, then you won't graduate in 4 years. Students seem to take this pretty seriously. I have often been walking down the hallway, talking to a student, only to have them veer off and take the long way around the cloister, just to avoid stepping on the seal. It's a kind of corny and hackneyed tradition, but I came to find it charming. Since I had long ago failed to complete my undergraduate degree in 4 years, I pretty much ignored the superstition and continued to walk straight through the cloister, snickering at my students.

A couple of weeks ago, I was walking down Palmer hallway with one of my colleagues and he also veered off to avoid stepping on the seal. At first I didn't think much about it, but then I asked him, "why did you do that? I thought the superstition was that stepping on the seal meant that students wouldn't graduate in 4 years?" Nonplussed, my colleague responded:

"But for us, it means you don't get tenure."

At this point, I may have already condemned myself, because I have certainly trod on the "Truth. Loyalty. Service" seal more than my fair share. But I'm pretty superstitious, so I'm not stepping on it anymore. Wish someone would have told me that little factoid at the beginning of the semester, but I guess it's better late than never...

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

How I Feel About It...

It occurred to me, long after posting this picture, that I posted it without explanation. For those to whom it wasn't obvious at the time, this is how I felt after the University of Memphis lost the NCAA Basketball Championship Game to the University of Kansas.

And, for the record, I still feel this way about that game.

Saturday, April 05, 2008


You people have no idea how long I have been waiting for this... and by "you people", I mean all of you who haven't known the truly Sisyphean struggle of being a life-long defender (and lover) of Memphis.