In a few days, I’ll be travelling, and my suitcases are out and ready to be stuffed with books (no, I do not have a Kindle or Ipad, so don’t ask), shoes, clothes. And deodorant: I hear it’s damned hot in that eastern part of the country.
For the first part of the trip, I’ll be solo: doing research, going to lectures, staying in a room of my own. After a week of introversion, deep thoughts and writing, only then do I meet up with hubby: we get a few transitional days at one of those boutique hotels in a big city I haven’t visited in 20 years before we do some couch surfing with family and friends. Near water. I miss the ocean so much I can taste it. The water makes up for the couch surfing.
I’m so ready to go.
One of the great, and well documented, ironies of academia is that it’s a profession that attracts introverts interested in books, ideas, words and asks them to be extroverts excelling at public lecturing, group task forces, and facilitating other introverts. Then there’s the socializing, which I normally love, but that has become more of a burden lately than a pleasure: when did I get the reputation of always being available to go out, hangout, host gatherings, plan outings, “do things”? How do I get out of this reputation? I mean, despite some modest extrovert tendencies that I must have inherited from the paternal side of my heritage absolutely unknown to me, I’m truly an introvert, but in the land of the power introvert, I stand out as a damned social butterfly.
Yet, the inner strength required to wring dry the few extroverted tendencies I have has simply left me exhausted.
So I can’t wait to fly away, to a small town, where I can be literally alone for at least every evening and night, as long as I remember to hide that sliver of extroversion that lies within me. Because of course I’m going to be in a workshop with, you guessed it, other academics. And I fear that the overwhelming introversion auras will bring out the extrovert in me.
What sort of illness is that, the need to fill a void in group situations?
On another note, I’m sorry, Sybil, but yes, books are morally superior objects.
After days of agonizing, I’ve finally figured out the reading material I’ll be bringing on my grand tour. I’ve downloaded a few “free” books to my Netbook (where Kindle for PC seems to work nicely)—classics by Austen and Alcott, mostly, in order to at least try this reading on a screen experience. And, for hard copies, I have a few weeks of the New Yorker, the last issue of Bookforum, and a few College English, TETYC, and Pedagogy issues to catch up on. As for actual books, I tried to choose those that I don’t think I need to save, and that I can pass on as I travel.
Right now, I have the following as my short list, and since I cannot take them all, any advice would be helpful: Anita Shreve’s Testimony, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin, Ruth Ozeki’s All Over Creation, and Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite, and, my old, falling apart copy of The Mind-Body Problem by Rebecca Goldstein.
While I’m gone, feel free to sneak over to some other academic bloggers who are also, if I may, probably introverted with a twist of extroversion: here and here, and here, here, here. A few actually have parties on their blogs. Sometimes with cheetos and scotch or those drinks with the umbrellas.