I feel as though I have severed a deep and passionate and complicated relationship. I feel a bit hollow inside. I am supposed to be doing something, but what? Oh yeah, I am not going to SBL this year. For the first time in 17 years I will not be attending the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. I am not making any statement in not attending this year’s SBL, not political stand or anything like that.
You see, 15 years ago, just days before the San Francisco SBL, our daughter was born. This Saturday is my little girl’s 15th birthday and I am not going to miss it. You will notice that I did not miss that SBL meeting in 1997. The reason was that I was then a visiting assistant professor at Tulane. While I was applying for the tenure track appointment, there were no guarantees and I had to interview. I have been on that hamster wheel ever since.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful and very nice hamster wheel, but sometimes you just have to get off. In my time at SBL I have met some wonderful and amazing people. I have also met other…people. I have been a candidate for jobs and interviewed candidates. I have demoed software, negotiated contracts, and walked thousands of miles in the book exhibit. I have even given a few papers (at the rate of 1/year, until now). One year I only made it for less than 24 hours. I needed to present a paper, but had limited funds, made more difficult by the fact that it was the Disney World Debacle. I flew in late with my colleague, gave my paper at 9 am, and was on the plane by 1 pm.
I will miss seeing all of my friends and being addressed as “Targuman” by those who only know me from this blog. (Those numbers are dwindling in direct proportion to the time I have for blogging.) But I am relieved. I don’t have to prepare a paper or moderate a session with grumping scholars believing that their work is the most important work the world has ever seen and that they alone are right. OK, to be honest, I am really sorry I am going to miss that last bit.
I am very proud and happy, however, to be with my family on this incredible day known to everyone else as “Saturday” and to us as Izzy’s birthday. Don’t worry SBLers, next year the schedule shifts again so that SBL is the 23-26 and I will be there, with bells on! Since it is in Batlo my family will likely join as well and I look forward to introducing you to them all. Only please, we all know where the looks come from, it just embarrasses my wife when you point out how handsome her husband is.