Monday, December 19, 2011

The Ghost of Grad School's Past

Even though I graduate with my master's degree almost exactly a year ago, my university email account is still open and active. After months of forwarding, filters, and editing my profile on just about any website I visit, about 95% of my emails actually now reach my non-school address.

Every week or so, though, I go through the old account and clean things up. I delete the dozens, if not hundreds, of spam emails that have somehow accumulated, make sure there isn't some important website that keeps sending emails to the wrong place (somehow Facebook has never managed to get switch over), and marvel at the amount of people that think I'll just send them my social security number (I ended up on some spam list and it's just dozens of emails a day now).

The most dangerous part though is scanning through, hoping not to see an email that I haven't forwarded onto my new email address for a reason. The people I am slowly trying to phase out of my life by phasing them out of my email. I'm not blocking them, I'm just choosing not to forward them.

Anyway, point of the story, this morning, after about three weeks of putting off cleaning it out, I took a crack at it. The typical stuff: emails about engineering job opportunities, home owner's association meeting notes, and facebook notification. Oh, and one little passive aggressive email from my advisor.

It's amazing how even an email from him can make my heart speed up and all my skin tense. For a year and a half, he made my life miserable. Utterly miserable. There's a reason I finished my degree six months faster than everyone else: I wanted to get the hell out of there. Although my advisor would be quick to tell me that that is still six months slower than his perfect Indian PhD student who only did it in a year. The squeak of the lab door opening still haunts my dreams. We hated that sound because it usually meant he was coming to yell at one of us.

He had to be the most egotistical, self-centered, mean spirited person I have ever met. He was the one that made me spend my summer in Ohio, the summer I was supposed to be working on my thesis and planning my wedding, so he wouldn't lose his contacts with the Air Force when I was his only American student. He was the one who screamed at me and threatened to not let me graduate AFTER all the paperwork had been signed because I gave his students extra study help before the final because I knew at least 40% would fail the class without it. He was the one that called me names to my face and when I reported it to the department, all the administration staff was on my side because he had done that to them too, but the dean of the department just tried to blame it on his divorce...which occurred 4 years ago.

Last time I had heard from him was about seven months ago. One of my fellow survivors was presenting her thesis and I was planning on attending to ask easy questions to make things easier on her. That same week, I got an email from my advisor inviting me to a barbeque at his house to celebrate the end of  the semester. Well, here's what I mean by an invite, it was an email, sent to me, about a barbeque. Nowhere on it was my name, it was just sent to a listserv of all his students. And he had timed it on Mother's Day. And he had sent it about four days before the barbeque.

I just assumed he had forgotten to take my name off the listserv (it had taken him six months to actually add my name to the listserv) and went on my merry way. Well, I found out at the thesis defense that he was really angry with me. Apparently I was the rude one for not responding at all to his email. Silly me for being the rude one in all of that etiquette jumble. He refused to address me at the defense and just acted like a big passive-aggressive weenie.

Made my life easier that day.

Just this morning, there was another email in my old university inbox from him. It invited me (well, again, my name was nowhere on it) to a barbeque to celebrate the end of the semester...two weeks ago.

My initial reaction was anger. After all the steps I've taken to cut this man out of my life, he keeps coming back, dredging up this horrible memories for me. Why won't he just leave me alone? I don't need him anymore. If I needed a new job now, I wouldn't ask him for a recommendation. I don't need to keep this bridge intact.

But after a couple of minutes of fuming, the anger subsided. Yes, he was only inviting me to help his ego. He wants his new students to meet his old students and I am a pretty awesome old student. And he wasn't that bad out of context. When he would take us out to lunch, the conversation would usually be pretty fun. He would have no reason to yell at me now, except maybe the perceived snub about the barbeque invite.

After thinking about it for a while now, I decide that I will send him an email explaining things. I WAS out of the country from the time he sent the invite to the four days later when the barbeque actually was (seriously? not even a week's notice around the end of the semester/Christmas time?) and for a while after. And even if I had been in the country, it would have been on my grandfather's 96th birthday. And I WAS finishing up projects for work before the end of the year, my university email went unchecked (without giving him my new address).

Maybe I should send him a note apologizing for my snub and see if I get an invite for the spring barbeque. So now only five months to come up with some sort of excuse to get out of it...


  1. A-freaking-men.

    ...I never responded to that email...

  2. Oooouuuf, I would handle that kind of behaviour so badly. Why and what's the need to behave like this? Good for you that he is not officially in your life anymore. Maybe you should create a filter in your mailbox to never see his emails ever again?...
    On the other hand, maybe it would be good to see him again, like you say- he has no reason to yell at you now.

    By the way- Impressed you finished your master's 6 months ahead of time!!

  3. You missy are a genius. Off to create a filter...