Okay, so I’m feeling a little perilously ungrounded…and also confronting how much I depend on the Internet and email…for work, even more than for everyday life.
Here’s the situation. I am sharing my office at New Uni with another full-time faculty member, since there is a major space crisis here – they’ve never had to do this before. When I initially learned this, I was alarmed because I really inhabit my office, and I also work there a lot…I try to do the majority of my work at the office…as well, I make a mess, and I was worried about trying to manage my mess for someone else. But my very lovely officemate and I worked out a schedule whereby we are each here half days Monday-Thursday. And it’s not as difficult as I thought to contain my mess.
However. Just today I have really seen the limits of this situation. I’m staying with friends for the three nights a week I’m in Uni City – Monday-Wednesday. They need me out of the house by 9:30 every morning because the babysitter/nanny comes. Fine, I think this morning (when my officemate is in the office) – I’ll just head up to the uni and go to my area's faculty lounge for these chunks of time…it’s newly wireless-networked, and I can sit and do stuff – check and reply to emails, etc. etc. – on my laptop. It’s actually a lovely, large, friendly space – not bad.
Except, not so fast, Hilaire. The connection didn’t work, and when I went over to IT to find out why, I discovered that there is this insanely difficult configuration required, and my computer doesn’t have the capability for it. Unless I want to buy a new laptop, I can’t be wireless on campus. I’m stuck. (Jesus, I just bought this thing – new – a little over a year ago! I bought it because it had won awards, for god's sake...why doesn't it have what I need????) If I want to be online when I’m not in my office, I need to go to the library computers, where students are looking over my shoulders and eating oily salad perilously close to my keyboard: both of these things happened this morning.
Whoa, I’m frustrated. All of a sudden I realize how dependent I am on the Internet. And most of that is for work purposes. Library and periodical searches, job searches, calls for papers, student and colleague emails. Even blogs, which are partially a diversion, have a lot to do with work…I use them to enrich my own experiences of teaching and research.
It would be fine if I just had a place to be when I’m in town and not using my office…but I don’t. I’m feeling pretty ungrounded…it’s a feeling I really, really hate. Yes, I could spend my time in one of the two wireless cafes in town, but I don’t really want to waste my money buying beverages I don’t want just to take advantage of wireless.
Really, it’s a little demoralizing to be a full-time faculty member and just plain not have a place to go. I have to admit that.
And I wonder if I may need to look for a new place to stay when I am here. Somewhere I can work when I’m not in the office, and somewhere I can use Internet (which is tricky where I’m staying). Awkward? I’ll say – these folks I’m staying with are my friends.