Thursday, July 31, 2008

are we done yet?

Partner and I spent all of yesterday hauling our stuff from the second floor of his family's barn onto the first floor in preparation for truck-loading. It's been great having free storage, which would have cost us a large chunk of cash otherwise, but while emptying our storage "area" we discovered that we own way, way more stuff than we thought we did, primarily because we've been slowly moving things here for the past three years. Over three years I managed to forget that we had anything in storage at all!

The stuff coming with us on Sunday will include things from our City apartment, things we put in storage, and things Partner has been keeping in the barn since high school and college. That adds up. When Partner moved to City, he basically moved in with me and brought only those items that supplemented what I already owned; I didn't quite realize how much he had left behind. It looks like we'll be the proud owners of at least three different sets of dishes in varying states of completion, more coffee cups than I will ever find a use for, and more books than we'll have shelving to hold.

If we didn't have to move it all, I'd be far more excited, but unpacking will be like Christmas. That's my favorite part of moving anyway, and this time I won't already know what the boxes have in store. Next week is going to be fun. This weekend, maybe less so.

Tomorrow we close (finally!). Sunday we actually move in. And if we can get to city hall tomorrow in time to avoid having the water shut off until Monday, I will count us exceptionally lucky.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Now that I've had a few weeks of down time, I feel as though I'm waking up from a long, largely negative dream. The past six months or so have seen more significant events and personal stress than any other six-month period in my life so far. Sometimes I think all these things couldn't possibly have happened to me; I must just be wishing for an end to grad school, or a change of location. And then there are so many new, intimidating things looming ahead that I start to wonder whether grad school in City was really so bad after all.

Since January I have:
- worked in three different countries
- gotten engaged
- gotten a job
- finished and defended my dissertation
- graduated
- moved out of City
- bought a house
- planned a lab
- done all the other normal academic stuff that would have kept me busy all on its own

I didn't realize quite how crazy this year has been until I caught up with a friend I hadn't talked to since January. Last winter seems like such a long, long time ago right now. But even with all that stress, I think I'm more worried about the upcoming semester than I was about the spring, and what makes me most anxious about my upcoming job/life is the permanence of the whole thing. I've been "in transition" my entire life, until now. Undergrad and grad school were just several-year jumps on a path leading here, and this job suddenly becomes the "point" of everything that came before.

I think I'm getting cold feet. But it's not the job itself, or even the house-buying, responsibility-taking, or research-leading that I'll be doing that intimidates me. It's the idea that this might be it, forever, or at least for quite a long time. And as much as I should be hoping for that, for tenure and for job security, I wonder if I'll get antsy in about five years, waiting for the next phase of my life to begin.

I'm surprised I feel this way, since I've been waiting for something more permanent for a while now. I expected to be thrilled about buying a house, staying in one place, and being somewhere Partner can pursue his own career without worrying about moving every few years.

One week from today we'll be moving into our new house, and then the new semester looms, so I should have plenty to keep me occupied for now. Maybe I'll be happy about settling down once we're actually settled, or maybe I'll find other ways to satisfy an appetite for change. I'm looking forward to it, though I hope I can get away from the negativity that has characterized 2008 so far.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

new job anxiety

My lab and office space is being constructed/reconstructed at the moment; I provided my input last month and I haven't been contacted since, so I assume they got what they needed from me. Unfortunately, I apparently have very little trust in things happening in my absence, and this has turned into one of my favorite insomnial "I-can't-control-this-so-I'll-just-worry-about-it-all-the-time" issues.

Last night I had some interesting dreams, in which the offices and computer lab for the (small) department were built from cubicle walls and given curtains for doors. And I just stood there thinking, "shit I can't complain about this, can I?" And then there was a dream about teaching my first lecture, leaving the classroom, and later realizing that the students present had been those in the first lab period and I had wasted an entire lecture on only half the class.

These aren't entirely based in fantasy land; I get the feeling I'll have to argue for the final pieces of furnishing that I'll need, like filing cabinets and shelves in the lab. I just wish I could stop worrying about it right now, when I can't do much about it.

My other concern is that I'm teaching a course with a lab, which will be Tues/Thurs. Half the class will be going to lab on each day, giving me a smaller population to work with. Problem: classes begin on a Thursday. Do I scrap the first (and later, the last) lab periods, or do I somehow make that first lab group do something useful without having any lecture or introduction to the course, and then get stuck with a Thursday-group-first lab schedule (which will be annoying because of my conference schedule among other things)?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

my first auction

Temporary Summer Home is rural enough that the only internet access comes from the sky, which sounds fine (given the functional nature of most satellite television) but in practice has more glitches than most high-speed internet services. Every significant weather event leads to a loss of signal or some strange issue, like the past weekend when rebooting the router gave us 15 minutes of access before we'd have to reboot again. I have to wonder whether dialup would be less frustrating (ok, that would never be true, but at least it would be reliably very very slow).

My other weekend activity (other than all the rebooting) was a trip to a local auction barn, where we hoped to pick up some cheap antiques and see what this auction thing was all about. I quickly realized that antique dealers are running a ridiculous scam; this place was piled high with furniture, knick-knacks, farmhouse goods, etc., and most of it was in fairly good shape. Anyone with some paint stripper and a sander would make a killing in the city; many pieces didn't even sell, or could have been purchased for $1. We picked up a few things, mostly for Partner's workshop, and I admit I got into the adrenaline rush of the place, waiting for things to come up and hoping to beat out the rest of the crowd. It would be way too easy to fill a house with $5 furniture, and never get around to the sanding and staining.

I still haven't gotten much work done...that will most likely be the theme of this summer, to be honest. But there are still a few more weeks to kill...

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

still July

So only two months after I looked at the swathe of summer and thought, "I can get all kinds of things done!" I'm finally starting to get things done, think about the class I'll be teaching, etc. I'm not working hard by any means, but it's a step forward.

I also got my first email from a student; they wanted to know what we'll be reading so they can get a head start. Really? Man, when I was in college I was a total nerd, and even I didn't want to do the reading three months early. I almost want to make them write some kind of essay illustrating that they spent time having fun over the summer...while they still have summers to enjoy!

One question answered: will my students be needy and grade-obsessed? Most likely.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

poor planning

We have horrible timing. We both have (or had, I should say) fairly random schedules: as a grad student I could pretty much set my own hours, and Partner had a non-regular work week. So we took off on Tuesdays and had random weeknights free. Yet somehow we always ended up going out on Fridays, and wondering why there were so many people around.

This trend has not improved with Partner's (temporary?) unemployment and my pre-employment break: we moved out of City on Memorial Day, and are now planning to head out of SLAC-town tomorrow. I also made the mistake of trying to go to the bank this afternoon, where the manager eventually took those of us without business transactions to another desk. I have yet to figure out why my subconscious decides that public holidays are the best days to move (they really aren't), or why my schedule randomly comes around to "oh, this day would be the best day to do X. Oh shit, that's *random public holiday involving high gas prices and no services*".

I'm going to have to start actually paying attention.

Also, I'm hoping there's a laundromat open tomorrow. I don't think T wants her sheets back if we don't get to go...maybe we'll leave on Saturday if it's closed (it couldn't be closed TWO days in a row, could it..?)

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

not quite a home owner

We're still bumming around during our summer of sloth; I'm getting organized as an employee of SLAC and making some lab orders, but otherwise not doing much. Partner is checking out his employment/schooling options and weighing the pros and cons. Everything house-related is done, so now we're just waiting until August, when we can move in!

When we made our offer we had made a list of requests: mostly appliances, but a few extra things (porch swing) as well. We got a few of those requests, but not all (porch swing), presumably because the current home owner is a woodworker and made a few of those items himself. Today we get an email, stating that the owners are going to be selling some of their property and wanted to give us first choice at buying their stuff for cheap. On the list? Porch swing! We think this is kinda lame; we're not buying it. We're buying a few other things that are cheap and would be nice to have, and even though we'll probably have to make our own swing for the porch at some point, we felt it was a little money-grubbing to try to sell us something we had asked for as part of the house price, when they're only asking $50 for it and we're paying them the asking price.

Yes, I am very passive-aggressive.

Maybe they found a new house without a porch. Still. If it were me, I'd just leave it. They also wanted to sell us "plans" for a bathroom they never built; yes, we were thinking of putting a bathroom there as well, in the future, but I have some specific things I'd put in there. Also, how are those possibly useful to them once they move? Again, that's something I'd just leave behind.

Maybe I am overly generous. Maybe I won't feel that way once I've put ten years into a property. But I think it's a little strange.