Who likes to rock the party? I like to rock the party. All the ladies with the babies make the babies shake their booties yeah. Here is a pair of babby shoes I knitted this week, one of three (and counting). I am excited for this babby to be shod cozily in impractical fibers (cashmere, silk, merino, organic cotton), because why the fuck not? This pair was my first, and is particularly special because I used yarn that was a gift from my husband’s cousin Lisa.

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I just got back from the mall. What? I know! As my friend Sarah has written in recent months, this “mall” I speak of is an increasingly rare phenomenon — more and more malls in the US are looking like the crime den in Gone Girl than like the St. Louis Galleria, which is where I spent more time this morning than I care to admit. The St. Louis Galleria is not technically in St. Louis; it’s in Brentwood, which holds the distinct “honor” of being The Wealthy St. Louis County Suburb That Looks Most Like Orange County. The Galleria is a few notches below South Coast Plaza (which, though not as posh as Fascist Island, ahem I mean Fashion Island, and not as hermetic as the Speculum, I mean Spectrum, boasted, for example, a Cartier store). But it still seems to be where St. Louis’s well-to-do buy a bunch of overpriced crap they don’t need.

So what in the everloving fuck was I doing enjoying the smell of commerce in the morning today — 10 in the morning, to be exact? Well, Brentwood also happens to be the location of St. Louis’s only Trader Joe’s and the location of a sports-rehab facility my sporty husband goes to for PT. So rather than undergo the existential travail of him taking two trips to Brentwood on the same day, we combined PT and grocery shopping, which meant that I had two hours to kill while my husband had his appointment. I actually got to the mall before it opened. My life is full of surreal experiences, but sitting on a bench outside the St. Louis Galleria’s Restoration Hardware, knitting a hat, has got to be one of the weirdest in awhile.

Anyway, I hadn’t been to a mall in years. Years. Literally, years, plural. And so it was a shock all around to waddle through today, en route to Macy’s to spend last Christmas’s gift cards before this Christmas rolls around (I bought a food processor, on sale — the glamour in our house, I tell you, it doesn’t quit, much like my ass, see below). It was a shock in a lot of ways: I’m not used to seeing that much commerce upon commerce upon commerce, for one, so I’ve changed — but also, the mall has changed. Because the in-person shopping experience has become kind of a rarity (I am assuming?), and because most retail workers work on some sort of commission or quota system, the level of in-mall hard-selling has skyrocketed since I was a kid. Back in the day, the only people you’d see actually milling among the mall folk trying to lure them in to their stores were the hawkers of Hickory Farms sausage samples (like seriously, was that shit not 90% nitrites and 10% salt? And also goddamned irresistible, my innards be damned?), who gave exactly zero fucks if you bought a sausage or not.

Those days are over. Today I noticed so many stores posting hawkers outside that it reminded me of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul! AND also because of the haggling (!!!! American mall haggling!), which I’ll get to in a second. Or, now, I’ll get to it now. Because that is how I found myself this morning, at 10:15, being subject to the hard sell of a Skin Care Specialist at “Tierra Soul and Spa,” whereupon I found out that despite being a “beautiful, beautiful woman,” I also have blackheads, open pores around my eyes, and the horror of all horrors, neck wrinkles. I had never once even thought about the state of my neck viz. wrinkles until they were pointed out to me today — but aghast as I was, I was still not about to part with $599.99 — SIX HUNDRED HUMAN EARTH DOLLARS — for a 2-oz bottle of lifting serum. Six hundred dollars! That is more than we used to pay in rent when we rented here! Somehow, though, I got talked into buying some skin-peeling gel for an amount of money I will not share in public (though it was considerably less than $600), and he “threw in” some facial cleanser and a dead-sea mineral body scrub that will apparently make my disgusting pregnant feet less disgusting (since I can no longer see or reach said feet, this seemed like a silly addition, but it was “free,” so who am I to complain).

This whole experience, once it was over, brought about an interesting lecture on “the hot-cold empathy gap” from my husband, who is currently teaching a course on “Markets and Morals” that I should apparently be sitting in on, and the suggestion that next week when I kill time at the mall, perhaps I should leave my credit cards at home. At any rate, I will let you all know if this ridiculously overpriced skin care regimen (sans, alas, the serum) does anything for my abhorrent neck wrinkles.

All right, moving on. Here is a picture from last week that demonstrates fairly accurately that for some pregnant women, the back expands in direct proportion to the front.

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I have to say, I kind of like having a huge butt. Sure, I had to go up two sizes in underwear, but it also prevents me from falling into the toilet when my husband leaves the seat up in the middle of the night. I do think the fetishization of the butt, especially the racially-tinged fetishization among white fashion types, is problematic, so I don’t want anyone to think that I am fetishizing my new posterior in this fashion (and, speaking of racism, Dear White People opens in St. Louis next week and I am beyond excited for it); I am simply making a commentary on the interesting ways in which gestating a miniature human changes individual women’s bodies. (Apparently, it has also given me “chest rosacea,” another abhorrent thing the Soul and Spa wishes I would spend $300 per ounce to alleviate.)

All right, some job ads, I guess.

This week’s sole tenure-track offering (bringing the total up to 18, in case anyone is counting) is from Texas Christian University, for 1750-present, and sounds perfectly legit. Also, you learn something new every day: TCU is “a private, secular institution,” despite the name. Although if you move to Dallas/Ft. Worth, no matter your religious affiliation, you will probably start wearing your hair bigger, so as to be closer to God, because that is the Texas way. Anyway, isn’t it fascinating that Texas Christian University is not, in fact, one of those skeevy Christian universities that makes potential faculty and students sign some sort of no-dancing honor code?

Speaking of words not meaning what I think they mean, this week’s German JIL also brings two more jobs hiring at the “rank” of Assistant Professor, but without actually being the jobs (i.e. tenure-track) that just about everyone associates with that term. One is at the University of Arizona, but I’m not going to get on their asses because they put “Non-Tenure Eligible” in big letters right up front; the other is at West Point, and it’s one of those nebulous three-year “term” positions, where it looks like it might be able to turn TT at some point, or not, who knows. I have to say, as much as I myself am not Army Strong, I would kind of love teaching at West Point. First of all it’s right near where I went to college and I love that area of the country, but second of all, the fucking discipline in those students would be incredible. Just how straight they’d sit up in their seats would be amazing! You would not get a single rolled eye or hung-over slouch from those cadets because one step out of line and some terrifying Full Metal Jacket style sergeant will come and yell in their faces for three hours. Like really, West Point would be great for the yelling culture alone, which goes perfectly with the study of German. If I hadn’t made myself straight-up unmarketable in the past two years, I’d legit consider applying. TEN-HUT!

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5 thoughts on “Rate My JIL Oct 17: Dawn of the Dead Sea Body Scrub; My Ass (and more “Assistant Professor” Jobs That Aren’t)

  1. Dead Sea salts? Why didn’t you ask? I have it exuding out of a pair of Burkenstocks that are now basically unwearable due to said Dead Sea salt. If you wear any clothing into the Dead Sea, make sure to throw them away or you will have enough salt for your dinner for the rest of your life.

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    1. I guess the proliferation of “term” positions parallels the private sector’s increasing use of “temp-to-hire,” that is, you need to act like you’re a hire while the employer acts like you’re a temp.

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      1. BUT, fwiw, the departments I talked to HATE THESE and want very badly to do a TT hire, but their admins won’t give them one. The admins are the ones treating everyone like a temp, just so we’re clear.

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  2. The West Point job is a little weird- USMA and most of the other military institutions can’t offer tenure under the standard Title X legislation that provides for civilian instructors to be hired. What they can offer instead is permanent ‘Title X lines’ that after 2-3 renewals theoretically become rubber-stamped contracts with non-renewal only happening for cause (making for a sort of pseudo-tenure) but USMA and others have recently had some struggles with that as well. If the posting didn’t say ‘renewable term’ or something like that it almost certainly has a definite end and should be looked at as the same as a VAP.

    As to the discipline, while the cadets are all amazing young men and women who want to excel, the environment itself can often work against the full exploration of their academic potential. I always told my cadets that their first real test was figuring out their priorities since they literally did not have the time to take care of everything they were tasked to do (a recent study showed that cadets averaged 5 hours of sleep a night over their four years at the Academy). Unfortunately, that means that sometimes needs must and your class is the bottom of the heap. For the English/Literature side of things I think this article offered an interesting perspective:

    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/08/sarah-lawrence-with-guns/

    I wasn’t on the APL side of things but was in the Humanities and there is a lot there that resonates with my own experiences. It was a great place to work with a lot of wonderful people, but like all academic institutions it is undergoing pretty severe challenges at the moment and has a few unique ones caused by the stress of being both a college and a military institution.

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