"In many disciplines, for the majority of graduates, the Ph.D. indicates the logical conclusion of an academic career." Marc Bousquet

Monday, September 10, 2012

When they start to recognize you're not totally full of crap ...

After some of my whinier posts recently, I figured I should let readers know that I actually do like it here at the Petting Zoo. A lot of us post-acs, especially in English, get frustrated when the nonacademic world questions or doesn't recognize our madmadwordsmithing skillz acquired through so many long years of bad romance with that sick and twisted lover academe calls "Language and Literature Studies."

Let it be known, however, that my fellow Petting Zoo critters are beginning to realize how nice it is having an Almost English Professor at their beck and call -- especially one that once listed "animal studies" on her CV as a research interest. (Seriously, I shit you not! Could you not tell from all the recent animal metaphors and earlier animal posts?)

Here are three things I did in the last day or so that validate my existence here, at least for the time being:
  • Started -- and then settled -- a kerfluffle over when to use the adjectival vs. the atrributive noun form of a certain word. The result was a change to the title of the Flaming Kangaroo Gas event title on our website and in the program and all the promotional materials. In other words, I used my knowledge of the English language to make my fellow critters look smart rather than stupid or pretentious.
  • Drafted the speech that Expanding Habitats' Big Dolphin is giving at the Flaming Kangaroo Gas event. FKG has both public and behind-closed-door components, and the speech is sort of a big deal because it introduces the public part and must accomplish several goals in only about 600 words: introduce Expanding Habitats to the public, introduce Big Dolphin as EH's leader, introduce the event itself, introduce the keynote speaker (who is a former member of Congress), and please the EH major donor (as in seven-figure donor) who is sponsoring the event. That's a lot! And it was only after acomplishing a series of smaller, totally insignificant writing tasks that -- presto! change-o! -- suddenly, recent Ph.D. (go figure!) is the go-to person when other critters  want something written well and written quickly.
  • Worked with a colleague -- we'll call hir Enviro Shark -- on hir PowerPoints for an upcoming presentation and had some input, from a humanities perspective, that ze hadn't thought of.
What's especially awesome is that Enviro Shark's presentation is at an upcoming conference we're both going to. It's interdisciplinary, and I would have submitted a paper proposal myself had I not started here months after the deadline had passed. The fact that they're letting me go anyway -- basically to schmooze, promote Expanding Habitats, and support Enviro Shark -- totally vindicates my choice to blow off that other conference I almost paid my own way for a few months back. It'll be fun to go to a conference without the pressure of either presenting or being on the academic job market. And it'll be especially fun to have the chance to bond a little with Enviro Shark.

Enviro Shark is a recent Ph.D., too, in environmental engineering. Ze is a type 1 leaver who only finished hir dissertation because ze couldn't stand the thought of not finishing. Ze immediately got out without ever going on the academic job market. Ze also got hir job here as a research analyst around the same time I started the secretary gig, which maybe tells you something about the relative ease with which science people and humanities people make their escapes.

Anyway, Enviro Shark is part of the Survival in Captivity crew and no doubt felt some of the sense of dislocation and irritation when Expanding Habitats took over, but ze hasn't been here all that long and seems to be adapting rather well -- not as hot and bothered as Senior Pink Elephant (who has been keeping, mercifuly, out of my way).

 So ... yes, it's been a good week, and the conference, too, which I leave for Thursday morning, will be good, too ...

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