Monday, September 21, 2015

The downside to working in the office all day, every day is that packing lunch is a macabre affair

Today's noontime menu:

-banana (1)
-carrot (1)
-cheddar cheese (5 slices)
-cottage cheese
-hardboiled egg (1)

I also have a bag of rice cakes in my desk drawer.

I am a good eater. I like to eat. I do not "diet."

This lunch, which I patched together at the last minute out of what was to hand in the kitchen, depresses me.

I am now teaching at an institution with one of the highest rated food services in the country. It's outstanding. But I will not allow myself to drop $8-$10 a day on lunch, especially not at what happens to be a lean financial time for my family.

So...what on earth do people take for lunch? I used to do this regularly, like back when I was 23 and had a miserable office job--although I do remember an exhausting number of cheese sandwiches being consumed in that period.

Leftovers, when we have easily transportable leftovers, are an obvious solution, but otherwise...? I need to get better at this.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

A Bewilderment of Resources

(Another distraction from the housing situation. Re. which: so far, so good. We've had our final walk-through [although the seller hadn't actually moved out; she is, at least, fully packed]. Closing is scheduled for 10 am tomorrow. We know how big the big pile of money has to be. Luck luck luck luck luck....)

Today I had my day-long new faculty orientation at New State U. By the way, I've decided to call New School "Idyllic State," and the surrounding area will collectively be known as "Idyll." I'll write more about why later.

Anyway, a few observations:

First, I was struck by how many of the upper administrators who spoke to us were women, including many women of color, and several women who referred to having young children. While this doesn't necessarily translate into optimal support for mid-career women with children, or women of color, or women, or anyone else for that matter, it is at least...interesting. May or may not mean a thing. But my first impression of Field was of a bunch of men introducing the women who worked for them (that changed a lot in my eight years there, actually), so this was at least interesting in a potentially positive way.

Second, the theme of the orientation seemed to be this: There are SO MANY RESOURCES available for you! In every possible way! For every possible thing! So much money for you to apply to get! So many people eager to help you do any damn thing you want!

This was a) refreshing, and b) completely overwhelming. I now have so many pages of notes (and so many handouts) that I haven't a clue where to go, or to whom to go, for what, or what I can even ask for. Which is pretty much where I was yesterday.

Clearly, I'm having a bit of culture shock adjusting to a Huge Research University after being at a Teeny College (where people are friendly and will go to extraordinary measures to help you and you basically talk to the same three people for anything you want done, but you also have to do an awful lot yourself and there is no money). I'm wildly impressed with the resources that are available to me, and feel special in a way that I didn't at Field. I feel like a total rube, in a way, completely wide-eyed and grateful for everything that comes my way.

For example: I asked the IT guy if I could get a 13" MacBook Pro with Retina screen and maximum memory capacity for my free computer, and he wrote back to say that he'd ordered me one. Um! A used desktop--which was, I'll note, perfectly adequate--came with my office at Field, but this is quite a different order of service. I actually feel kind of guilty for asking for this much--like they're just taking it on faith that I actually need a fancy computer when I'm just a lowly Humanities prof who can noodle around on an outdated version of Word.

Monday, August 31, 2015

If if if

IF the seller of the house that we by all rights should have been inhabiting for two weeks now is NOT in the psychiatric ward of the hospital on Wednesday, we will have a place to live.

I am out of hoping energy.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Opening Activities at a 4/4 SLAC and at a 2/2 R1: The First in a Series

At Kalamazoo this year, Notorious Ph.D. asked me if I would blog about the transition from a tiny, cash-strapped, midwestern SLAC with a 4/4 load to a big East Coast R1 with a 2/2. I suspect that there will be a lot to say, so, to distract myself from the ever-changing, endlessly bizarre situation that is the Mihi Family Housing Crisis, I will write about one of them.

Difference No. 1: Gearing up for the new year.

At Field College, this is what happens in the week leading up to a new Fall semester:
  • Wednesday before classes start: mandatory day-long faculty retreat.
  • Thursday: half-day faculty retreat/faculty meeting (which is attended by all full-time faculty).
  • Friday: all-campus (faculty and staff) meeting, at which everyone is introduced to everyone else. This is entirely useless, because either you pretty much know who everyone is, or you don't know anyone, suffer from total information overload, and don't remember a thing. After the meeting is the (equally pointless, in my view) Benefits Fair, at which you collect free toothbrushes and whatnot.
  • Saturday: students move in; we're invited to help them. I have only known one professor who has ever done so. Because: syllabi.
  • Sunday: if you're lucky enough to be teaching a First-Year Seminar, you have your first class meeting this afternoon.
  • Monday: if you advise a student organization, you have a mandatory ice cream social to attend. If you teach First-Year Seminar, you have a two-hour community service project to complete, followed by a picnic. You may also have your second class meeting this afternoon (this has fluctuated in recent years).
  • Tuesday: mandatory (and usually rather nice) opening convocation. Big picnic lunch with all the new students. Advising meetings all afternoon.
  • Wednesday: classes start.
At New U:
  • ...
  • ...
  • ...
  • Classes start! After labor day!
As a new faculty member, I have things to do--orientations and whatnot, which I'm eager to attend (I need information!). Perhaps more senior folk have meetings, but if they do, I haven't heard about them.

There are a lot of factors at work in this distinction. Little colleges like Field need heavy faculty governance and involvement; faculty do all of the advising and need to be apprised of changes in marketing strategies, athletic recruitment, accreditation visits, new requirements for Education majors, and all kinds of things that you wouldn't think that you'd need to know about. They're also expected to be very involved with individual students; the personal connection is, after all, what Field (and a lot of schools like it) sell, and what makes them different from the local State U's. That involvement, incidentally, is what I enjoyed the most at Field, and I hope that I can cultivate some of it at New U (admittedly in a different register).

But now, my primary directive is research. And good lord, I need to get settled in a house and in my office so that I can do some.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Things Aren't Looking Up

But at least we're in New State.

In a hotel.

With two cats and a three-year-old.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Holding Pattern

That's the nice way to put it.

Other ways of expressing our current state would be limbo, suspense, empty void of unknowing, and purgatory.

We're at my mother's house--still. The plan was to leave Field State on the 28th, after closing (check!), go to visit friends in Northern City for 2 days (done!), take a two-day visit to Northern Beach (yep!), then drive out to Mom's for about 3 weeks, with a break in the middle to go to New State and then to In-Laws' to pick up the cats. (New State--visited! Benefits package received! Cats--collected!) And then, we were to close on our new house on the 18th and move in and be sort of mostly unpacked by now.

Well! That didn't happen. Maybe it'll happen on Monday. Maybe it won't. WHO KNOWS????

Here's what happened:

We got a call on the morning of Monday, the 17th--right about the time that I was thinking, Hooray! We move tomorrow! No more living out of a suitcase! Etc.!

It was our realtor.

The seller hadn't opened the doors for the moving company that morning. Eventually, the police were called. It turned out that she had attempted suicide and was in the hospital.

That's one for the books, eh?


Anyway, she has physically recovered and was discharged on Thursday, with plans to move out on Saturday so that we can move in on Monday, even though we might not be able to close until Tuesday (apparently there's a legal way for that to work out). However, she wasn't returning her lawyer's calls yesterday, so who knows whether she'll authorize the movers to come in today?

I am expending all of my hopeful, anxious thinking today wishing her well, hoping that she is safe and able to move forward--and out. And also thinking, Oh my God I have classes to prep! Books to locate and unpack! Meetings next week! And Bonaventure's school is about to start! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOOO?????

Foo. Fleeing the state was all too easy, wasn't it. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Life among the Boxes

We move a week from tomorrow. Our Pods arrive today. (One is already here, in fact--I had to move the car to the street because it's pretty much blocking the driveway.)

I'm almost wishing that I felt more ambivalent about leaving Field Town, but frankly I'm impatient. We've already had our going-away party, and then on Saturday I went to a (former) colleague's going-away party, and it's all starting to feel redundant. We've been doing the "Oh-I'm-sure-I'll-see-you-again" thing, knowing that in most cases, we won't; this helps to soften the blow, but by now, I more or less just want to disappear. Good-byes should only be so long.

But Field has been so important in my life: my first faculty position, meeting my husband, my child's hometown. Eight years! I was only in graduate school for seven.

And will I ever come back? We say yes, but we know (and say among ourselves) that it's unlikely. The town is two and a half hours from the nearest big city, and the possibility of even visiting said city is pretty remote--most of the people that we know there have moved away by now. And, at least until there's a change in administration, we both want very little to do with Field College proper from here on out. That's not a good feeling, by the way. I hate it that our relationship with our former employer has soured, due to--well--meanness. Quite simply.

Anyway. So much to look forward to! The three-week gap between closing on our Field house and closing on our New house is going to be a bit unwieldy, but we'll spend a few days with friends, a few days at the (Midwestern) beach, and time with both of our families. And then: Moving in! Our great new house! My great new job!

Seriously. When I can see through all the mini-crises and the stress (our [current] house appraised at less than the sale price! the seller of our [new] house was refusing to sign the contract! Bonaventure hasn't had some obscure screening that's required for his new nursery school! etc!), I marvel at my good fortune. I hit the freaking jackpot.*

*I may be speaking too soon, of course; who knows what politics and weirdness await? All jobs have politics and weirdness, after all. HOWEVER: 65% salary increase + 50% teaching reduction = awesomeness no matter how you slice it. Not to mention reducing the distance between me and my family from 15 hours of driving to 2.