One of the good things about being a professor, I always say, is that
professors are allowed to be quirky. Expected, even. To explore, to
sort through what hasn’t previously been discovered or categorized,
takes me out of the typical and ordinary and mundane. It has to. The
ordinary things have already been found.
So I walk around the corridors of my classroom building, because I need
to occupy my motor skills to let the logical parts of my brain work
unfettered. I refer to the Mandate of Heaven when explaining
statistical significance, because the requirement to get exactly 0.05 is
like a rule handed down from above that can be taken away, and I think I
can get my students to understand it better. I might watch Dancing with
the Stars and get distracted by the scoring system. Not because it
matters whether Apolo or Joey wins a trophy, but because we might better
prioritize public projects through better voting and expert advice.
I’m awkward at times, because I’m not noticing what’s typically done.
The sky is still blue on my world, but sometimes it’s medium blue and
sometimes cerulean blue and sometimes there’s these white puffy things
and sometimes it’s dark and why is that?
Professor is an extremely vulnerable position. First, I’m leading mostly
teenagers 11 hours a week, who are often distracted, sleepy,
unmotivated, or scared, and my job is to get them to understand and
apply something new and difficult. Plus, I have to enforce the
penalties when they’re not doing so well, even when I like them and they
try. One of the hardest things I do is give diligent, friendly,
pleasant students B- and C grades because they really don’t know the
material. That sucks. Then, the rest of the time, I’m supposed to
explore, not knowing if I’ll ever find anything. Plus, I gave up piles
of money, which I remember every time I look at my 1999 Pontiac and
small apartment where I’m still single.
Given that, why not go take that nice bank job and look for a nice wife
and a nice suburban house in a nice subdivision? Because in my world
it’s acceptable to make wild plans to have ballroom dancing stations in
airports, where people waltz while waiting to fly to Topeka. It’s OK to
give away buckets full of daisies because I’m quirky. It’s fine to try
really hard things, like identifying factors that destabilize marriages
to help reduce abuse and divorce. My modeling ability can look like
Even with vulnerability and difficulty, many troubles, my world has
sweetness and intimacy and heroism and celebration. From what I see,
much more than most. It’s not a fairy tale, because I’d make myself
more handsome, for one. The great thing is that my professor world has
joy. That’s me.