Friday, May 26, 2006

Straight to Hell. Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect...

That's me, and that's where I'm going.

In today's desperate bid to avoid working on my article, I decided to google myself. I know, I know, and you're right--it's not just procrastination at work, but also a bit of vanity and paranoia, all wrapped in an unsatisfying, hour-long venture. I was pleased to note that I share my not-terribly-uncommon name with a ceramicist (? what's the word for someone who does ceramics? ceramist?), a biologist, and apparently not a small number of young women athletes under the age of 15. Who knew?

In the course of skimming the 950 or so entries (of which very few are actually me, and many of which are defunct), I see my name and one of my colleague's, with the link leading me to a MySpace page. Argh, MySpace--the best-loved tool of the stalker generation. I've avoided this thing like the plague, but apparently, I should get over my lurker tendencies, because what I found, of course, is the page of a graduating student of mine who lists me (and the aforementioned colleague) in her list of heroes.

You would think that this would make me glow with pride. Oh no, dear readers, quite the opposite, because here's the deal: this student drives me around the bend. Almost literally. Generally, by the time she leaves my office, I'm using yoga breathing techniques to induce lightheadedness that will prevent me from yelling the phrase "I JUST don't care!!" at the top of my lungs. Chalk that reaction almost completely up to my own wacky pet peeves; this student is relatively bright, perky, well-versed in the kinds of thing that make the Fluff's heart sing. All of that, however, is delivered to others (and me in particular, I think) with herself as the constant point of reference. How does she begin to gloss a passage from a contemporary novel? By discussing her childhood. How does she answer a question about her presentation? By telling me about her friends. Many times, her formal research papers run along the same track. I know that this is par for the course with 21-year olds. I was far worse in my own day (which explains the desire to stifle negative responses to her). All I can think about, when she's talking, is the scene in Lessing's The Golden Notebook where the protagonist dreams that her boyfriend/husband comes after her, saying nothing but "I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I, I..."

I should also note in the student's defense that I've tentatively run this by my other colleagues who have had her in class; none of them seems bothered to any great extent. In fact, some truly adore her. So why aren't THEY the ones she chooses? How is it possible that she doesn't sense how I feel about her?

Hmmph. I suppose the answer to that would be located in the very thing about her that drives me batty.

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