summary: The prospect of staying in her parents home for two weeks at Chirstmastime is something Sansa has been dreading for months now, especially since she couldn’t convince a single friend from NYU to join her. Instead she is planning on wallowing in self pity at their family home in Maine until she gets on her flight to Atlanta to meet up with Margaery for their road trip to Miami.
That is until her brother Robb brings home his grad school buddy Jon Snow, who is much cuter than expected for a guy who wants to teach high school history.
Blame it on the lights, presents or cookies her mother bakes.
Blame it on the snow, decorations or the Winter Jack Daniels Robb spikes her hot apple cider with.
Blame it on the mistletoe they get caught under after a few days of embarrassingly awkward encounters, red faced blushes and longing glances.
Whatever it is, it’s enough to cause Sansa to call Margaery with a change in plans, to cancel her flight and to stay in Maine until her semester starts at NYU.
Maybe being home for the holidays isn’t such a dreadful thing after all.
The need to bring out your inner Beyonce in the academic job market
At a dinner party, I was talking to my friend C about - what else? - the fraught nature of the academic job market. I love C. She is brilliant, has a caustic sense of humour that allows her to issue biting observations, and is kind and empathetic. We only occasionally ran into each other the further we sunk into our PhDs and so lost touch but then were ecstatic when we saw each other clad in our scarlet and black robes during PhD graduation last year. After years of not seeing each other because we were in different fields and were, quite frankly, too ensconced in our research to have much of a life, it was thrilling to see each other cross the finish line.
Anyway, during this dinner party, C issued what I thought was an especially astute observation. “Academia used to be the refuge of the nerds,” she lamented. “I became an academic because there were moments in my life when I liked books more than people.”
We then started talking about how there are lots of older professors whose social skills seemed to indicate that they preferred research over people.
“And it used to be that liking research, and being a good enough nerd, was sufficient to get you a job,” C continued. You bent your head down, you did your research well, you published, you got the job - that was the trajectory. Or at least that’s the way it was. My PhD supervisor, who I admire greatly, mentioned that everyone who he did his PhD with in the 1970s could reasonably expect to land a job afterwards.
Now, as most of us know, this isn’t the case. In fact, in order to get a job, you could no longer just be a nerd (i.e., just be an academic). You have to be an academic Beyonce.
And what, pray tell, is an academic Beyonce?
Well, this means that you can’t just have good work, you have to sell your work as being the most brilliant, the most innovative, the most cutting-edge, the most inspiring. You have to walk into that room before your job talk ready to sparkle and to dazzle everyone with your magnetism, your electric energy, and, yes, obviously your knowledge. You have to show that you aren’t merely a competent teacher but that scores of students are so inspired by your lectures that they, too, are ready to pledge undying allegiance to your field. You have to be able to show that your research isn’t only applicable to your specific area but has direct resonance in a million other cognate and not-so-cognate areas. Heck, your research - even if it is on, say, a Marxist Feminist analysis of Sherlock Holmes (the assorted novels and the books) - can also be applied to contemporary urban policy.
In short, a good test of whether a job candidate is hireable, according to one former professor, is whether a buzz is created around him/her in the wake of his/her visit. Are people excited about their work? Do people like them?
And so what happens to the introverts? The introverts have to buckle up and sell themselves as academic Beyonces lest they fade into the woodwork.
Think I’m lying? A good friend of mine who is normally humble and quiet and self-deprecating had to force herself to be anything but when she was getting interviewed. And lo and behold, she got the job.
C and I concluded our conversation by agreeing that the pressure to be academic Beyonces is simply too much.
So my friend was in our school’s library this morning getting some coffee when he looked back to see the pope chilling in one of the aisles of the library.
As you can probably tell, this is not the real pope, but a cardboard cutout of the pope that my school has and brings to literally every school event (including my grad retreat, where they literally just propped him up at every meal, meeting, game, group photo, etc.). For Halloween, the principal moved him from the display case in the front of our school into his office and propped him up by the window so when you would walk by, all you saw was the pope staring at you through the blinds.
Last week the pope somehow went missing, but nobody really questioned it, we kinda just figured he was in some classroom somewhere. So this morning when my friend saw him in the library, staring at him from the shadows, he asked our principal why the pope was just chilling in the shadows in the library. Our principal looks at him and, without questioning the reason for the pope’s whereabouts, he says “Oh, I was actually looking for that.” He left the pope there all day and never spoke another word of it.
Quite frankly, I don’t even know why we have a cardboard cutout of Pope Francis in our school, we just do, and nobody really questions it.