I'm still trying to pick myself up off the floor. We had a party for 25 people on Saturday, one reason I haven't been blogging. My advisor from Temple has just retired, so I invited her and all her graduate students from the last twelve years (not everyone in her classes, but everyone who either has or has had her on their dissertation committee or people who are clearly her acolytes). I got most of the guest list from her. Sally is an eminent Victorian scholar, which sounds much more dull than it actually is in her case. Sally has long gray braids to her hips and has walked with a cane for many years, I think because of some kind of scoliosis. She is very petite but has a bellowing laugh that comes from deep inside her. I love it, but others find it annoying. In the early nineties she had us actually compile a collection of essays by Victorian women, which was published and well reviewed. It was the most exciting work I ever did in graduate school, the most thorough immersion in historical research I ever experienced. We were sleuths and it was great.
For her retirement we got her a beautiful duffel bag from Levenger, which she admired greatly. I had ordered her a cake that said "Thank you, Sally. Happy Travels." Because "Happy Retirement" sounds like "Happy Death" to me. Everyone gave a tribute to her. It was fun and unstuffy, mainly because no faculty were invited to this party. Nothing against faculty per se, it's just that their presence would have added a networking element, with its attendant mood of insecurity. Plus, I would have felt even more incompetent for having upended the whole container of maple glaze on the floor in the kitchen and having to dredge the salmon in it, right there on the floor next to the dishwasher. As it was, it was an enormously sticky mess for a few minutes, but it all ended up on the grill anyway, and was delicious, and everyone was happy, and hardly anyone knew.