The really great achievement of this conference will not be my talk. I have given many, and they are always good. This talk has already been accepted for publication, too, so I’m not worried about it.
The really great achievement is that I managed to drag myself to the conference banquet. I never go to these events and, instead, just sit in my hotel room feeling lonely and excluded. I can’t tell you how many times I almost turned back on the way to the banquet. I was feeling nauseous and light-headed and walked swaying from side to side, like a drunken person.
But I managed to get myself there and even had quite a good time socializing with people. Mission accomplished.
After everything that the CIA has fucked up over the last several decades, the director of the CIA resigns over some stupid extramarital affair? That is the biggest crime that the CIA has committed? Jeez. . .
I was at the conference banquet right now, and the American scholars were entertaining themselves by scaring a Spanish writer and her companion with horror stories about the healthcare system in the US.
“So let me see,” the writer’s companion said looking puzzled, “you don’t think that everybody is entitled to good medical care just by virtue of being human and then you all go to church and pray on Sundays?”
At the conference, I met somebody I used to know quite well at my previous university and she didn’t recognize me.
“Emily, don’t you recognize me? It’s me, Clarissa,” I said.
“Oh God!” Emily exclaimed. “You look like a completely different person!”
“Yes, I cut my hair,” I explained.
“No, this isn’t it,” said Emily pensively. “You just look so . . . happy.”
It’s true that when Emily knew me, I was mopey, miserable, and indifferent. I had no idea one’s state of mind changed one’s appearance so much, though.
Folks at the conference I’m attending seem to have no idea that the Midwest exists. They have already provided me with 3 different appellations for my state of Illinois.
The program refers to it as “Illionis.” The certificate I get for attending the conference calls it “Ilinnois.” But the prize for the most convoluted spelling goes to the badge I have to wear on my chest. It claims that I’m from “Illionnois.”
Dame Eleanor Hull and Z have started a series of posts where they discuss what they gave up to have a career in academia. I want to participate in the discussion, so here is my list:
1. The greatest sacrifice of all is the impossibility to live close to my sister and my niece Klubnikis. It is painful on a physical level not to be able to see them every day.
2. The second biggest sacrifice is Montreal. I love this city so much that I had dreams where I was having sex with Montreal skyline. Enough said, I hope.
3. Living in a big city is something that is crucial to my happiness and also something that I had to give up. It was so hard to get used to living in a small town that I get depressed just remembering the effort it took.
4. The climate. I suffer greatly from this intolerably sunny and hot climate that I have to experience all the time. Health-wise, it is so bad for me that I’m forced to spend the entire summer (that lasts at least 4 months around here) locked up inside with an AC. The sensory deprivation and the unhealthy food in this village also require a lot of off-setting.
What I didn’t give up for this career and that everybody else is mentioning is money. Realistically, I would never be able to make more than I get for a professorial job. The only other career I can imagine myself having would be working from home as a freelance translator, and there is no way I’d get more doing that. Besides, I’m an immigrant, so the salary I get feels enormous to me.
Without any exaggeration, however, I’m ecstatically happy with my life right now. So I guess it was all worth it.
What did you give up for an academic (or any other) career?