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June 01, 2006


Are you sure you want to call this guy from grad school a "friend"?

I watched a documentary about that spelling bee---i think it was called spell bound, I checked it out of Netflix. It was fascinating. They picked 8 kids and just followed them. Some were utterly neurotic and others were just totally chill about the whole thing.

Oh, what a freaking loser. We all know this guy from grad school, don't we?

What kind of a**hole turns down a teaching award as "meaningless"? Bet it meant something to the students!

What a jerk.

Oh, and here's another way your life is better than his: you're not a jerk!

I'm pretty sure we didn't go to school together, WN, so how is it that we wound up with the same grad school "friend"? I ran into him at MLA and he was actually walking around the book exhibit with a copy of his latest article in his hand to show off to people. Ergh.

Awesome story! I loved it. And I love the gossipy followup in the comments. When are these jerks going to figure out that academia is a super-small world, and that the way you treat people may very well come back to justly bite you in the butt? Love it.

And then there was my grad school friend who kept stopping me at MLA to update me on the # of interviews she had (more than I) and commenting on the relative prestige of the schools interviewing us (hers were always higher). What idiots.

Congratulations on your award--I'm a bit behind.

it's the folk who need to put you down that are the most insecure. living well and happily is the best revenge! and also the best reward. i have been thinking a lot about this as i finish up my time at Major Prestigious Institution and prepare to head to an unprestigious University in the fall. My offer is great: I already like the faculty (and they seem to like each other), the city is fantastic, diverse and interesting student body, lots of support and time for research and good support for teaching (plus not too much of it -- 2/2 till tenure!). I might have done better, but this was right for me. And I'd had have to given up lots of wonderful life moments in the past three years if I'd really wanted to eb a superstar.

In the past you've shared D's comment to you about how your chose to live well and not work all the time over being a superstar. I've made the same choice, and so have most of my nearest and dearest, which is, i guess why i like them so much. and the superstars amongst us, well, i can see already at the beginning of their prolific careers that most of them aren't so happy.

celebrate yourself, WN, you're pretty fantastic!

Ha! I'm still in grad school and I have that "friend" right now.

Yes, we all have had that friend. And learning to deal with it isn't easy: good for you for coming to terms with at least part of that problem.

I may be that friend. No not *that* friend, but one of them.

The truth is, I am amazingly lazy. I know this, and it bothers me less and less, but there it is.

When I was in grad school, the "go-getters" of the bunch engaged in friendly competition. We went after the same grants, headed to the same conferences. We also helped each other (naturally) and collaborated, but I never would have done well in grad school if I hadn't felt like I needed to compete with my peers. When I landed in my first job, that same sense of competition wasn't there (I was the only untenured faculty for a while), and I was worse for it.

I truly hope I never made my friends feel any less for their accomplishments, which were substantial--I certainly never intended to. When they won the award I was going for, or the job I wanted, I congratulated them and really, sincerely meant it. But it was the spur that kept me going, and I really also wanted to best them.

I think I mostly kept that friendly, and I suspect that they benefited from that competition in some of the same ways.

So, I'm not defending your friend in any way, but for some of us, that competition can really help, and I only hope that I was never as gauche as to let it show so obviously, and that I remained human throughout.

Oh! Congratulations on your teaching award! I've never won one, to keep or send back!!! Whoohoo!

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Who is this What Now?

  • I'm an English teacher at Fabulous Girls' School (FGS). I'm a convert to Judaism. I am partner to D. We live in an adorable, messy little house in Adventure City. Two cats -- the Muse and the Contemplative -- live with us and keep life at home plenty adventurous.

    Email me at whatnowblogger at yahoo dot com.

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