Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Case of the Cursed Paper

At dinner with one of my favorite, if a bit awkward, colleagues the other night, I related the tribulations that I've encountered with a paper that I've been working on for the past few months. His response? "It's cursed." "Not yet!" said his sympathetic and slightly mortified wife.

So what constitutes an almost-cursed paper? Like many things, it began as a lark. Mr. Fluff and I had been enthusiastically, if not rabidly, watching a particular television series together on DVD. It's not every day that our media obsessions match up, so when they do, we go after them with a vengeance (and when it's over, he goes back to watching some crap movie on SyFy, like Mansquito, and I return to more civilized ventures, like In Treatment, or re-runs of Dawson's Creek). And, as obsessive watchers of "quality tv" do, we'd discuss the implications of a Marxist-themed episode, or the questions that the show raised about race, etc., etc. Thus, when I saw a paper call that seemed to encapsulate our interpretation, I pitched the idea to Mr. Fluff. "This should be fun! We could write it together!"

I suppose that this could be a War of the Roses kind of story, in which we destroyed our marriage and brought the house down around our ears as we argued over the paper. That part, however, went just fine. I'd do some writing and thinking, hand off a draft of the abstract to Mr. Fluff, who'd tune it up, we'd discuss the ways that our argument was trending, what kinds of secondary stuff we should examine. Easy peasy. So when our abstract was accepted to a conference in Europe, I thought, "huzzah! Clearly, the universe accepts our work together, and is pleased!" But before I could book tickets, Mr. Fluff clucked his tongue. "It's in a month. Will we be ready in a month? You just finished the semester, it's Christmas. Maybe we should wait and try a different one."

Undaunted (despite the fact that the conference was hot on the heels of some work I'd done with my grad students in the fall), I found a national conference with a panel that fit the bill, and we slid the abstract in just under the deadline. We heard back from the organizer the same day. We were in, and needed to hurry up and pay the registration fee. (This probably should have given me pause about the quality of the conference, no?) But fine. We paid up, and I started making plans for the conference, which just happened to be in my favorite of the 50 states. "Perfect!" thought I. "We'll give the paper, and then we'll take the rest of the week for vacation!" I booked the conference hotel, and then a sweet little B&B up the road from the conference city. I researched restaurants and day trips and hikes. And then, the morning before we were supposed to leave, the airlines cancelled our flight because of the terrible, horrible snowstorm of '10. And we weren't able to rebook until the following Sunday---the final day of the conference. Wah!!

After hemming and hawing, we decided we'd go to favorite state anyway for a vacation, eat the costs of the conference, and submit the abstract elsewhere. Third time is the charm, right?

Two months ago, I submitted our abstract to a conference in the UK, wherein it was accepted. We paid the exorbitant conference fee, and I've been scoping out the various online airfare sites, trying to find something reasonable. Oh, and in the meantime, I've also read a number of articles on this show, read a classic cultural/theoretical tome, and, oh, you know, written the damn paper to submit it early to their website. Last Friday, Mr. Fluff gets a call in his office, stating that his boss is quitting, and that he'll need to step into that role and run the entire office and all of its programs by himself for the next three months. And, of course, he'll need to cancel his upcoming trip.

Son of an f'ing bitch.

I think we can officially call this paper cursed. I'm cancelling the trip, and the paper, and etc. This wretched piece of work has cost me countless hours, as well as probably $600 in conference fees, and that's if we exclude the cost of the trip to favorite state which I wouldn't have taken if we hadn't already planned it. Do I just surrender, and bury the cursed paper in my yard with a tiki and an evil eye amulet? Do I let it sit, and hope that I can give it again somewhere? Is Mr. Fluff's computer build on an Indian burial ground?!!

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Blogger Frenchie Foo said...


Tuesday, June 08, 2010 4:54:00 PM  
Blogger kfluff said...

Oh yes.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010 8:19:00 PM  
Anonymous The Bittersweet Girl said...

I apologize for laughing all throughout this post. I know I should not find your trials so hilarious but, um, they are sooooo hilarious! It's a comedy of errors over there.

Maybe you should burn some sage around your computers and give it one more go. Skip the conferences: go straight to publication and hope that your paper doesn't cause a nice, respectable academic journal to suddenly go bankrupt.

Friday, June 11, 2010 11:11:00 AM  

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