Saturday, August 19, 2006

It's a cyclone!

A cyclone of activity, that is.

I've been driving around, getting used to driving and having a car, rushing about on campus , moving into my office and into my home.

It took me two and a half days to completely unpack, but it was exhausting because I could only unpack in the afternoon and evening, after a full day's orientation on campus.

But thankfully I am now set up with a spanking new laptop, printer, and office. With a big window that looks out on one of the quads, the one full of giant Southern magnolia trees, some of which have decided to be in bloom, though sparsley. There is a nice old oak tree in front of the window.

I'm still physically exhausted from unpacking, moving boxes around, and getting rid of empty boxes, not to mention depleting the rain forest and wasting bushels of crumpled up paper. Nothing tones your arms better than shoving tons of crumpled up paper into giant black trashbag after giant black trashbag, sitting on said trashbag to compress the paper, then shoving in some more, and then carting six of said giant black trashbags down three flights of stairs to the garbage cans at the side of the house.

From what I've seen of the social scene here in this town, it is nil to negative nil. Thankfully this is not so on campus amongst the faculty. Already I've become friendly with two new history profs, a dance prof and a large number of 3-year visiting assistant English profs. Two of whom (the historian and the dance professor) live 2 blocks away from me.

It's pretty unfair how ghettoized the visiting assistants are, though. They all have to have offices in the basement with no windows, they get older computer models, and they didn't get much moving funds either. I'm sure the space thing is due in part to a shortage of office space on campus, on every campus everywhere. Hell, as a postdoc I didn't even get my own office. And while there were windows, lovely lovely windows, I still had to share with two other people, one of whom was doing administrative work and was on the phone frequently. So I never went to the office more than 4 or 5 times (and my office mates are probably reading this and only remembering 3 or 4 times). But creating an automatic distinction between tenure-track and visiting assistants does nothing to integrate departments. I'm doing my best to include them and to introduce them to tenured and tenure-track faculty. Aside from the fact that I think they will make up more of my social group because we're all around the same age and they are really cool, I am also struck by the thought that it could easily have been the other way around, with two of them upstairs on tenure-track jobs, and me and the other new tenure-track prof downstairs in the basement. The English job market is notoriously arbitrary, unstable, and dessicated in particular areas for a number of years. It's no accident that most of the visiting folk are late 19th-early 20th century scholars. This particular field has had a negligible number of openings on the market for the past three years, whereas my own field has experienced a bit of an expansion, going just by numbers.

This weekend I am working on my lesson plans and syllabi. In between short breaks to hang pictures and repot plants. One of the benefits of living in a highly suburban area is the high number of garden centers nearby. I now have a small conservatory of green friends in my vast livingroom, which includes a 4 foot rubber plant, a long-leafed weeping ficus (like the one I gave Amy), a button fern and a curly bostom fern, a china doll, and a hoya. Not to mention the thyme, rosemary, lavender and basil sititng in the kitchen window.

Once it's all set up I shall post a few photos here, just to gloat at what I can get for $675 a month down South.

Saffron has finally calmed down and has taken to sleeping under my quilt and purring up a storm all night (the bedroom is chilly from the air conditioning, so she likes to get under the covers to stay warm). Right now she's asleep in a sunbeam on my living room rug (a new purchase, huge, gorgeous so-called Bakhtiari, cheap, thank you ebay).

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