Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Perspectives

We're almost all done with our tenure-track hiring in my department. We did pretty well-- we made four offers and three of our top choices accepted. The fourth one turned us down for a bigger research institution in a really cool city and who would blame her? We had another person out just this past week and the department split along generational lines for the first time. All the junior faculty and only two of the senior faculty voted overwhelmingly enthusiastically to offer this person a job. The remaining senior faculty had already made up their minds and refused to be swayed by our attempts at persuasion. It was kind of fascinating to me, because it marked the first time we were unable to reach a consensus as a department despite everyone's attempts to understand one another. It was as if we were speaking different languages: They could not understand why we were so excited about this person's scholarship, and we could not understand why they were not. It was the first time we really disagreed, and everyone-- both generational camps -- felt a bit morose at the end of the day. It's a good thing the weekend appeared to give us some distance and perspective. And in the end, we did really well. We managed to agree on our first four candidates and to get three out of four, three really phenomenally good scholars and teachers from the top universities and programs in the country. And it's kind of heartening to know that even though we couldn't see eye to eye on the last candidate, there was a general sense of sadness that this happened, rather than anger or resentment. I'm sure this kind of thing happens in every department, especially in one like mine at a school that is in the midst of redefining itself; it's a sign of the times.

This weekend I'm buried in fellowship applications for summer research and I've got to write my SAA paper and book flights to Miami and San Diego for conferences and New Orleans for a wedding. I also have to study the state driver's manual and get my state license. I've put it off for too long and my license expires next week. There was so much to do I felt a bit nauseated and overwhelmed yesterday. So instead of jumping in to it, I cleaned house. It was warmish so I opened the windows and aired it out. I vacummed and swiffered and laundered and scrubbed. I baked cornbread and made Assam tea. I bought a bunch of fresh parrot tulips, emptied them into a large mason jar and plopped it on the dining room table. And I rearranged the furniture in my living room. Which is possibly the best thing I could have done because it feels fresh and new and has given me a subtly revised perspective. I now have to orient myself in this space in a different way. It's oddly mind-opening. After all the cleaning and re-organizing I was finally able to sit down with a clear head and pound out my research proposals without feeling a single palpitation or stomach somersault.

The daffodils are up and it's raining which is turning all the tree-trunks and limbs green-brown. The power just went out on my block so I've lit candles. It smells like cocoa, tuberose, red amber, and lemon basil. Spring break is in two weeks and my birthday is in six days.


Anonymous said...

I hope you had a lovely birthday in the kind of weather we can only dream about up here in the frozen north. Good luck with those applications. Fiona

Diogenes Teufelsdröckh said...

Do older faculty ever really get excited about scholarship per se?

Your place looks great. Except we don't get to see your solid washer and dryer.

Anon. O. Mouse said...

Very interesting to hear what job searches are like from the hiring faculty/dept's perspective!