Tuesday, September 22, 2015

September 22: Gold Watch, Promotion, Tomas Transtromer, "Kyrie," Adventures of Stickman

On December 29, 1982, there had been a big party in the boardroom, and it was attended by many of the old-timers like Ives himself--Crane, Silverman, Schamberg--and Mr. Mannis, having survived his third open heart operation, made a speech.  They had given Ives a watch--a gold Swiss pocket watch from the 1920s, engraved with his name on the back (to go into a drawer along with the watch he had intended to give to his son long ago at Christmas)--and a plaque.

Ives retires.  After many years at an advertising agency, he is given his gold watch and plaque, thanking him for his decades of faithful service.  Ives started out at the bottom and worked his way up, drawing by drawing, account by account, promotion after promotion.  He is respected and beloved by all of his colleagues and coworkers..

Tomorrow afternoon, I am meeting with the head of the English Department to discuss a promotion.  For the past 17 years, I have held the rank of Contingent Assistant Professor.  I want (and think I deserve) the title of Contingent Professor, which is a jump of two ranks.  After almost 20 years of teaching and a few thousand students, I am hoping that my boss will support my decision.

I am not a person who feels comfortable tooting his own horn.  It's just not something at which I excel.  In my posts, I may sound incredibly confident and self-assured.  I'm not.  I've said it before, and I will probably say it with my dying breath:  I think that I could have done better.  I could have been a better son.  A better brother.  Better husband and father.  A better teacher and writer.  Basically, I could have been a better person every day of my life.

That doesn't mean that I'm Rasputin or Donald Trump.  That means that I've made mistakes, and I acknowledge them.  That doesn't mean I don't deserve that promotion (or a Pulitzer Prize or a MacArthur Genius Grant).  It means that I'm human, with tons of flaws.

Contingent Professor Saint Marty.  Sounds pretty good.

By the way, Tomas Transtromer isn't perfect, either, although he has a Nobel Prize hanging on his wall.


by;  Tomas Transtromer

Sometimes my life opened its eyes in the dark.
A feeling as if crowds drew through the street
in blindness and anxiety on the way towards a miracle,
while I invisibly remain standing.

As the child falls asleep in terror
listening to the heart's heavy tread.
Slowly, slowly until morning puts its rays in the locks
and the doors of darkness open.

Adventures of STICKMAN

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