One of the more depressing moments in a grad student’s life is when she figures out that she is simply not all that important to her advisor, at least compared to how important/influential the advisor is to her. I–and I’m betting other grad students do this, too–idolize my advisor, and for good reason. He’s written a brilliant book and finishing an even better one; he’s been published in academic as well as public-intellectual-type journals; he’s kind of famous, both in and out of acadame. And I found out last week that my absolutely favorite historian, the Grand Poobah of my field, assigns my advisor’s book. My first reaction was: AWESOME! I’m that guy’s advisee! Me! And then I thought: who cares? I mean, who really gives a shit? Certainly not the Grand Poobah or his students or their advisors or their other students or people who read journals or book editors or hiring committees. And, sadly, probably not my advisor, either. Not that he’s insensitive or mean; to the contrary, he’s probably one of the nicest people in this business. But the fact of the matter is that I do absolutely nothing for him or his career. I haven’t got my shit together and published the book and three articles I promised I would. Hell, I haven’t even moved along in the program as fast as I thought/said I would. All I am is a time-drain for him. And it makes me feel like I did in junior high: the geeky fat kid who chummied up to the nice cool kid, who let me hang around out of pity. What an icky feeling.