Notes from a dork

Recently, on the open interweb where students (who are protected by FERPA) feel the need to publicly rate their teachers (who need none, so seek no protection, and work insane hours for low pay because teaching is so much fun), I was described as “a little dorky.”

Me. Dorky. Really?

To investigate the accuracy of the statement, I looked up the current meaning of dorky and found this: socially inept, awkward, unfashionable.

Let me dissect this mush. I stand in front of 120 students at a time and talk for hours. Maybe that’s what socially inept means now–the willingness to make eye contact and speak. I do so in clothes I like, that are comfortable and likely unfashionable, but I don’t care what you wear, so I’m surprised you care what I do. Perhaps I should be more offended. Go ahead, you can be offended for me, but I’ve been at this for decades and have seen the cycle: Years after graduation, students grow up and regret their actions. Some even come by and apologize. They know not what they do when they are young and unemployed. Some do not think of their professors as fellow humans, though we perceive the best of our students as the great hope for the survival of humanity.

Anyway, this proud geek/nerd/scholar couldn’t stop at one source, so I continued on my quest and found another definition: stupidly foolish, inept, clueless.

Now wait a minute. What might I be clueless about? Atomic theory? Organic reactions and rates, oxidations, nucleophilic substitutions, kinetics, equilibria? Transition states, Newman projections, stereochemistry, molecular shapes, bond angles, hydrogen bonding? Ah, nope.

Maybe I’m clueless about things I don’t care about. In that case, clueless might be the perfect platform on which to choose how to live a life. But I plead not guilty to “stupidly foolish” and “inept.” Those words are my antitheses; I am smartly serious and quite ept.

And on to a third source, to satisfy the statistician in me: In slang, I found dork to mean nerd (guilty) and jerk (nope, not me. I’m nice. I care. I work hard. I show up. I’m honest. Maybe you’re just petrified of strong women. Try to outgrow that.)

So after some spreadsheet work with multiple scatterplots and best-line-fit analysis, I am self-diagnosed as 57.9% dork, which makes me maybe dork-ish. I’m also 50% Irish. 25% French. 25% mutt. 100% female. 98% stubborn. 32% angry. 84% content. 98% curious.

Don’t pin a label on me. It won’t stick. And I won’t do it to you.





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