Tuesday, September 12, 2006


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.



Bardiac said...

Several schools I've been with have had little library rooms for faculty members. Any chance your library might have space? (I know, sounds iffy since it's a space issue to begin with.)

grumpyABDadjunct said...

Could you get a library carrel?

Sfrajett said...

You know, it sounds like you might need a different place to stay. It's not a breach of friendship to need to take up space. If you explain that you need a place to work, I'll bet they'd understand.

Is there anybody you can talk to about the office share? That's the part that really stinks. Hang in there.

Texter said...

That's tough. When you teach, you need a place to dump your stuff and also a place to sit and do the preparatory work before a class. If your class is in the afternoon, it's understandable that you would need to sit somewhere comfortable (or semi-comfortable) for a few hours rather than moving around like a nomad... that's exhausting. I hope you're able to find a reasonable solution. I doubt your friends will be offended.

Hilaire said...

Thanks, gals, for your suggestions. I am going to look into a carrel, though the official policy is that carrels are for grad students only. I don't think there's any faculty room at the library, sadly, no. And the office thing, Sfragett - my Chair is horrified, but there's nothing else she can do - there's no alternative to sharing. One thing she mentioned, though, was that I might be able to use the office (right across the hall from me) of a department colleague who is only here two days a week...that would be good, we'll see about it.

It might turn out alright - it seems as if my officemate is going to be here less than the schedule allows; she lives an hour away. If she doesn't come in even one day a week, it'll make things easier for me.

I'm going to see how it goes once things really get going next week - this is an off week because it's the first one, so it doesn't give us a realistic picture of how it's going to look day-to-day. I'll take stock of the situation in a couple of weeks and at that point, may have to make a decision to find another place to stay...

loren said...

sorry to get all nerdish/geeky when other replies are sensibly to the point, but can you say a bit more about the connection problem, and the hardware you're using? (very rarely there are exceedingly non-obvious but also non-expensive solutions to annoying connectivity problems).

Hilaire said...

Loren - Er, I wish I knew more of what to say about this. The guy from IT was doing it for me at a little drop-in session they had where they would set up everyone's laptops *for* them (it really seems to me ridiculous that this is so complex, but go figure...). Apparently it is that my wireless card is not WPA2-compatible (I think). I went back today, actually, to find out more, and was told that I could buy an external wireless WPA2 card, which I hadn't been told before. Although it appears that the pages you are allowed to access through the uni's network are limited to the uni's own pages. This is also frustrating, because a lot of the stuff I look at for work, including my other email, would not be accessible. So is it even worth it to go buy this new piece of hardware? I shall see how things go over the next week...Thanks very much for your interest, and if you have any insights, feel free to share!