Saturday, April 22, 2006


My increasingly threadbare veil of pseudonymity

One of the really nice (to me) things about our law school architecture is that faculty have no choice but to enter and exit through common areas where we are likely to encounter students. I much prefer that to the law school I attended, where faculty had entrances that really only served their office wing. They could come and go mysteriously, and seemed to beam themselves into and out of classes. I think I bumped into my professors in the building maybe 6 times in three years.

Yesterday, I was more or less greeted at the door by a group of 3-4 students. This conversation ensued:
Student: I like your blog.
Me: Really?
Student: Yes. "The Columnist Manifesto," right?
Me: Uh... yeah.
Student: Am I not supposed to say that?
Me: Well, let's just keep it our little secret.
My true identity is something of an open, or poorly kept, secret. In fact, the main function of my pseudonymity is to encourage precisely the reaction this student had -- that moment of doubt about whether it's a suitable topic of conversation around the law school.

I've blogged about this before. While I don't feel a need to keep this blog as a totally compartmentalized secret side, neither do I want students to come up to me and say things like:
"Hey, Professor Madison, exactly what sex acts do you think were missing from the marriage of those people who sat next to you in that deli?"
"Hey, Professor Madison, you said 'big butt!' Big butt, big butt, big butt!!!"
The fact is, I'm not completely consistent. On some level, I'd kind of like getting 300 hits per day to this blog from students. As long as we observed the little formality of "what's said on the blog stays outside the law school."

I guess it's not so much to ask that I can shed the mantle of "dignified law professor" and have a private life. And note that a "private life" shouldn't have to be as restricted as a "secret life."

Are we still conducting business in the comments section of your blog?

Because if we are . . . you never told me whether or not you are able to bring a salad to the birthday party tonight. I tried your home number but you were out. I did speak to Just B's brother. He seemed like a nice guy. And, just so you know, he did a fine job of answering your phone.

Anyway, just let me know either way about that salad. I don't want to make one myself and possibly have two salads at the dinner. That would be overkill.

P.S. There is no such thing as a private life in Madison. I run into students nearly everywhere I go. It's like an infestation!!
You get 300 hits a day from students?? Students from all law schools or just YOUR law school? Why can't I do volume like that?
Even if the school allowed for a secret life, the city would not. When I first moved to the same medium-college-town where you are living, I went to an art gallery with a visiting friend who lived in honest-to-god-big-city. When I went to purchase a small pen&ink drawing and gave my address, the gallery owner looked up and said "Oh, the old Lovejoy house! Does it still have that big art studio on the top floor?" My big-city friend has never gotten over it. Our medium-college-town is actually the equivalent of college dorm living for adults.


multv -- a home equipped with television in every room
Maybe the academics just tend to travel in the same circles & frequent the same places. I grew up in a medium-college-sized town and there are plenty of ways to avoid bumping into whatever crowd it is you'd rather avoid.
MT -- you missed the " 'd " in "I'd like" to get 300 hits per day. I don't get anywhere near 300 hits per day.

Tonya -- do I know you?
I read it the same way MT did. I was feeling pretty inadeblogquate.
I just realized it's my sister's birthday. Thanks mysterious Tonya!
Oscar: Thanks for agreeing to bring the salad. Make it a big salad 'cause there'll be 9 of us. Including me. Who you know. Very well.

MT: I run into students at coffee shops, bars, concerts and local music venues, dance clubs, and even house parties. Maybe I'd see students less frequently if I were likely to go to the symphony, opera, ballroom or folk dancing, church bingo or overpriced restaurants.

Janelle: Happy Birthday to your sister.
Tonya - happy birthday? (I suppose I should go to YOUR blog and say that :> ) Oh, and you can never have too much salad.

Oscar, please allow me to taunt you with my website stats... I average about 300 visits/day, sometimes more, sometimes less. That's because I have a parenting forum on my website, and I have kirigami instructions (I get more search results for that than anything else). But I've been online for over 9 years. Maybe that has something to do with it. (My *blog* stats are nowhere near as impressive)...

inbigiqa -- the latest viagra knock off, guaranteed to make your "qa" a big'n.
Oh, yeah, Professor Madison. We totally know who you are.
OKAY. Now that we all know who you are, how about posting a nice photo (no more black nail. please).

Gee, nobody's commented yet on the image of a 'threadbare veil' in the title ...
The veil is rather thin. Enough clues slip out that this occasional reader has discerned your true identity.
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