A lot of academic life is spent in the interim, waiting for the next meeting, the next class, the next talk. I'm in my office this evening, between talks. Sometimes it's harder to go home and come back to campus than just to stay here and do it all. So after the job talk that ended at 5, I met John at Murphy's for a drink, and then we picked up a pizza and ate dinner in my office. That bottle of screw top wine I lugged here in my backpack made it a bit more civilized.
And I'm waiting around now for the evening event, a multi-sponsored talk by Anne Balsamo, who is a very cool person with very nice glasses who does very smart work. I have now lent my copy of her Technologies of the Gendered Body to no fewer than seven graduate students. There are at least a dozen people in both my departments who would give their eye teeth to hire this woman away from Southern California. I am, of course one of those people. Who needs eye teeth anyway? Aren't they just one of those vestiges of a time, yunno, before silverware?
Since a bowl full of eye teeth padded with lots of dollar signs probably won't be enough to convince the likes of Balsamo to come here, we at Illinois have to be a bit more, shall we say, innovative. Last night at dinner, for example, my dear colleague Bob Markley was telling Anne all about his new work on global warming, and he described in his patented offhand manner how by the time he's his father's age, southern California will most likely simply not be there. I wondered as I chomped on calamari if this was one of Markleys's subtle recruiting pitches--Come to Illinois! We'll be here for the rest of your life!--but it's hard to know for sure. Actually come to think of it, I've been on the receiving end of one of his recruiting pitches, and I'm pretty sure that's what this was: he pulls out all the stops. And, he'd be the first to add, with a glint of "you came back didn't you" vindication, he's usually right.
Hiring fantasies aside, it is nice to be in the company of someone like Anne who has such fond associations with Urbana-Champaign. She did her graduate work here, and I can tell she takes great pleasure in driving herself around, in the way her body just kind of knows which direction to head. And also in the way, contra Los Angeles, it only takes about 10 minutes to get anywhere. Chances are mighty slim she'll run into an ex in L.A. Whereas here? Let's just say people have a tendency to stick around and remain visible. It's a ghosty town that way.
Needless to say, I'm looking forward to her talk, which is in the building next to mine, and then to a nice, late, i-pod assisted stroll home.