Friday, March 12, 2010

Confession: Household Edition

I have a professor house. You know what I mean by professor house? I am sure you do, most of you are probably living in one too. It’s more of an interior aesthetic than an architectural style. It’s an eclectic style with lots of variations, but you know it when you see it. The furniture choices, the art, and the fridge magnets all contribute but it’s the books that always give it away. It’s the books that weren’t deemed worthy of placement in your office. The graduate school castoffs, the duplicates and the “currently being read” books that reliably identify a professor house. But even when lacking books you can just tell. I can tell when I see one and I can tell that I’m living in one. My concerns with all the stereotypical trappings of professordom stem from the fact that I never expected to be a professor. I don’t mean that I just breezed through grad school and fell into a job, oh whoops! I’m a professor! No. But I just didn’t realize how defining this job can be. When I look at houses for sale I see it. I know if my house was for sale people would think professor house or at least “university people” live here. There are worse stereotypes, I shouldn’t complain…my house could be known as the too many scotch bottles in the recycling bin house…but that might be subsumed by the professor house designation…there’s no escaping it. I go back and forth with my professorness.

I wish I could say I’ve avoided the stereotypes, but I look around, and here I am, in my professor house. It’s so damn comfortable. These things bug me.

29 comments:

  1. Ha! I love my professor house, and am always amused when the latest former-student house sitter visits for the first time and usually falls in love (because my house sitters are almost always future professor house owners).

    I got the scotch/wine bottles overflowing the recycle bin; I got the books everywhere (including both bathrooms); I got the furniture that has seen better days (bought cheaply with first big paychecks, now aging comfortably).

    So why does this bug you?

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  2. My house also has taken on the aesthetic you describe -- books, Scotch bottles, and all. And I'm only a post-doc. I say, if it's comfortable embrace it. Love your geeky self!

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  3. Because I am turning into a giant professor cliche...but totally digging it.

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  4. I'm sure the tweed wallpaper looks fantastic against the dark wood, but do you have a pipe stand yet?

    -antipodean

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  5. Pipe stand, oooohhh like for jelly bean holders?!

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  6. We not only have a professor house(my husband's the professor), but we have a room we've made a dedicated library. It has armchairs, a globe stand, a Herat carpet on the floor, and woven rugs and tapestries from our travels on the walls. We didn't think about it. We just did it.

    OK, now that I've actually written that out, I'm embarrassed about how lame-ass pretentious it sounds. I'm so sorry.

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  7. House with too many Scotch bottles in the recycle bin. I totally aspire to that.

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  8. A library is not pretentious. As soon as my kids go to college, I will turn one of their rooms into a library, for sure.

    I'm not sure if I have a professor house. Two young children can really wreak havoc on any aesthetic other than the "toys-everywhere" aesthetic.

    So, Dr. No, I assume you have a nice spot for your leather satchel?

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  9. I'm still in college but I can't wait to have a professor house. These descriptions sound like upscale grown-up versions of my mildly pretentious dorm room. The professor cliche is oddly inspiring.

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  10. i aspire to the ultimate professor house. this post is so inspiring!

    books, overflowing bookshelves, old comfy arm chairs, lamps, rugs, coffee stains, pics of my travels, globes, curtains that don't match anything, art, wallpaper, scotch bottles, wine bottles, both empty and aging.... oh bliss....

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  11. Anonymous with the mildly pretentious dorm room: you must go to the University of Chicago!

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  12. I dream of living in a professor house. For the moment, I'm still living in my worst-ever grad-student apartment, with roaches, incredibly noisy neighbors, no furniture, half the floor is missing, and I have to roll meself up in corner for fear o' fallin'.

    Oops...my ambition and envy turned me into a Yorkshireman for a moment.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-eDaSvRO9xA

    Point being, I hope I get there someday. I've made my peace with being a stereotype of various kinds.

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  13. I think I have every "professor" item mentioned...I don't have a globe (well, not at home) but I do have a giant atlas- which enables me to look up the occasional odd country mentioned on the news and inform my household that its primary export is tin...

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  14. I would like "Whoops! I'm a professor!" on a t-shirt, please.

    Professor houses are the best kind of houses there are! Professor houses say, "I'm too busy being smart to find things that match and couldn't possibly be bothered to buy another bookcase, but still I've managed to curate a terribly impressive yet seemingly effortless collection of Cool Old Stuff that speaks loads re: my worldliness and natural-born good taste." I mean, what would you rather your house looked like?

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  15. stacks of books and articles and various projects in staggered stages of progress strewn about the place so totally flippin rocks!

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  16. have you seen "wonder boys"? it features a professor house....

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  17. Arlenna, I'm at Princeton...but I think I may have one of the more incongruously snobbish rooms on campus! Nothing like running out of space and using the bed as an extra bookshelf...

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  18. TM: It has armchairs, a globe stand, a Herat carpet on the floor, and woven rugs and tapestries from our travels on the walls.

    Hubby and I dream of this type of room for our future house; nothing like having a whole room dedicated to our respective nerdery! In the meantime we're in a tiny condo with overstuffed bookshelves in every room and in the open storage loft, which we can't even access very easily. We finally boxed up a bunch of books in the closets because we're hoping to put the place on the market soon (good idea to mask the "prof house" distinction when the place is as small as ours). Unfortunately, we've already started asking about the "misplaced" items. I'm not sure how long we can live like this!

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  19. Dr No

    You put the pipe on the pipe stand. Although of course these days you don't actually smoke the pipe. You keep it hanging out of the side of your mouth clenched between your teeth while talking or use it to gesticulate when undertaking a Sherlock Holmes style monologue (aka lecturing).

    Might I suggest the jellybeans go in an old specimen jar on the desk still ever so slightly redolent of formedehyde?

    -antipodean

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  20. One Entire Wall Of House Bookshelf Girl Here. But then I had kids and had to truck all those books to my actual office. I'm sad about that every day. The moving of the books, not the having of the kids. The kids rock. But I miss the professorial part of the house. I actually used to sit on the couch and look lovingly at my bookshelves and feel kind of impressed about the fact that I'd plowed through all of those things. Oops, did I say that out loud?

    Re: "I would like "Whoops! I'm a professor!" on a t-shirt, please." I second.

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  21. I dream of a professor house of my own. Currently I'm just a lowly grad student living in a tiny little apartment. At least the number of bookshelves far outnumbers the other furniture in the place, and I too take time occasionally to stare lovingly at the overflowing shelves.

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  22. True story: when I moved a dozen years or so ago, the realtor took one look around and said "lose the books." I must have created a professor house without knowing it.

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  23. I still live in College and that means I have a stand-alone sink within 2 metres of my single bed. Your professor house sounds dreamy to me, even if you're stumbling over all the cliches of your role! The fact is, where I am from, it's the only conceivable option, if I don't want a mushroom-aubergine-walled, damask ottoman, pretty, Venetian glasswear IKEA house like all my pretty Mum friends.

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  24. Like Ink, I've slowly had to move much of my wall of books to my office or to used book stores due to my kid (we needed room for her stuff). But yes, the orange armchairs that my parents bought when I was born, the sort-of-mission-sort-of-contemporary-sort-of-parents'-basement aesthetic, as well as the framed strike posters from my grad student days, make my house a professor house.

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  26. When we moved to a new city for my husband's post doc, the movers asked if he would be working at the XXXX Research Insitute -- based on the number of heavy boxes full of books they had to carry.

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  27. Being a (new) professor drives me to drink, so my house *is* known as the one with too many scotch bottles in the bin.

    I'm kidding.


    Sort of.

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