And, oh yes: I also saw Advisor this weekend.
In short, it was a delight. She was relaxed and chatty, gossiping mildly but not inappropriately about other advisees, former advisees, and people in our field, and telling me repeatedly how good I looked. Perhaps most flatteringly, she seemed genuinely happy to see me and to hear about my life. At one point, after I'd thanked her for a particular piece of professional advice, she said something to the effect that she'd enjoy keeping an eye on me--if I didn't mind her doing so. (To which I said, "I hope you will! Who else is going to?")
But here's the weirdest part:
Almost the first thing that Advisor asked me was how my personal life was going. Since we've virtually never discussed my personal life, this was unexpected. I told her that my boyfriend and I had recently broken up, and I think that I may have added an explanatory sentence or two. She blinked for a couple of moments, saying nothing, and then--as if recollecting the sentiment that was called for here--said, rather awkwardly, "Well. I'm sorry to hear that."
Conversation went on. Ten or fifteen minutes later I said something in passing about GWB, and she interrupted: "I have to admit that I'm not totally sorry to hear that your relationship has ended."
"Um." I said. "Okay. . ."
"Because you can do better."
I had no idea what she was talking about. She should know who GWB is (she was the outside-field member of his dissertation committee, and their intellectual interests have significant overlap), but on the occasions when I've reminded her of his identity it's been pretty clear that she has no recollection of him.
She continued, "You're going to be a. . . quietly influential mover in this field. And you can do better."
"Really." I said. "Okay. Well. Thanks!"
* * * * *
So, I have to ask: what the fuck was that all about? And what does my career--bright as it may or may not be--have to do with anything?
If we assume that Advisor doesn't actually remember who GWB is, we're left with three possible interpretations:
1) She was simply saying, in a maternal sort of way, that whoever the guy in question might be, anyone causing me drama could obviously be done-better-than. And P.S.: you rock and have a brilliant future ahead of you!
2) She meant that any relationship (but perhaps especially a long-distance one) must be a time-suck that I couldn't afford.
3) She thinks that I should go out and attach myself to someone important, who could be helpful to my career.
Now, I really don't think it's #2. As monstrously efficient as Advisor is, she's always been devoted to her partners and family; as long as one is on top of one's work, she approves of romantic relationships. #3 is totally gross, but not for that reason an invalid interpretation. Indeed, the decisiveness with which she made the comment, and the fact that it clearly came after some thought, makes that seem somewhat more likely than #1.
Dunno. But despite the grossness of what I think she might have meant, I left our meeting feeling ridiculously cheery. Because that's the way Advisor is: she makes pronouncements. And even when I know that she can't possibly have the necessary evidence to make those pronouncements, or when I don't respect the values that underly them--I tend always to believe her.
Dissertation directors, man. They're the gods that roam the earth.