Dear M.,

Yesterday, I sat in a room for 12 hours with academics who would like to write for the general public.  I have been away from rooms of academics for awhile, and I am trying to figure out why it all felt so blecky, and why I have the urge to take a bath to wash the bad off.

We also didn’t have many breaks…which perhaps created my existential vortex of nodding and internal screaming. Anywhoodle, I spent the time assigning animal profiles to the academic spectrum.

  • The eagle: Fashionably dressed, slow to speak, precise, prepared and happy for the opportunity to be there.  Chatting up their tablemate, taking notes, names, and impressing those in the powerseat. Suits or print dresses. This eagle likes to be held, and is very likeable.
  • The aardvark: Wacky, abstract, wears loose cotton pants and stretches after meals.  Grins when other people speak.
  • The stoat: Mantra–you’re wasting my time, I could be grading papers, I know all of this already, and whatever you just said was offensive.
  • The pigeon: disenchanted with academic life, though already fully committed to professordom.  Will talk about said disenchantment at the drop of the hat, and then mention that one has to follow their bliss/passion/voice/unknown future/anything except the academic now that has cracked their spirit like a dropped ceramic mug on the kitchen floor of their dreams.
  • The sleepy turtle (AKA foxface): post-graduate, non-tenure track, living an exhausting lackluster version of the dream.  All clothes are ten-years-old.  Not sure if they count, but not sure if they don’t. Part of the conversation, but a little like Michael J. Fox’s family photograph in Back to the Future: things are getting a bit ghosty out there, and the chance for solid is waning.

Forgive the overdrawn pantheon here.  Would love to see your additions/redrawings.




One Response to Animalia

  1. Millicent says:

    I mean, the horror of the assemblage aside, this was gorgeous. A stoat??? I have no mental picture. [Off to Google.] [Am back. Is an ermine! Responsible for royal plumage but personally disaffected?] The aardvark is utterly charming.

    As for the sleepy turtles: wow do they ever count. Universities will soon, like universes, be turtles all the way down. Speaking of which, I just read Yertle the Turtle and was impressed by the strength of his back.

    Maybe the solution is a time machine/ark in which we leave the stoat at home to kvetch. Should we write a Girl Version of H.G. Wells?

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