Sunday, January 28, 2007

Realistic assessment

So the Dean and I had our final job negotiation on Friday, and it was easy and successful. Now he’s doing up a letter of offer, so everything is nearly signed, sealed, and delivered. I can begin to wrap my head around it now. And I am starting to see the positive in it, more and more. I think I need to do this for my sanity.

There is, of course, the positive aspect of the position – building the program, being able to shape something. That really excites me. Even though the university is in upheaval and there are bitterness and angst among the faculty. (I’ll bet all of you much more experienced folks are thinking, “You just wait…”) And the person with whom I’ll be working the most closely keeps on writing me emails saying, “I’m so excited!” “I’m so happy!” and the like.

I seem to have negotiated a teaching load of 1-2 for next year!

Last night I went to my friend Kim’s 35th birthday party. She told me she’s already planning to make a visit to me in the fall, and is even set to choose dates and make a plan. A couple of others there – who are dear friends from Activity-world, of which I am sadly no longer really a part – also told me they would be coming to see me, as well, when business or pleasure takes them to the general area. And I had dinner with (ex-)GF last night, and she will probably visit at the end of the summer, just before the school year starts. As long as I have people coming through, it will feel so much more bearable…people will make everything nearly alright…they will break up the homesick months between visits to Home Province/continental area.

Also, my father and I are probably going to take a long road trip to get me (and Mr. K) there…which is perfect, since I already had an inkling that I wanted to do a driving trip with my father this summer, for his 65th birthday. And since I was afraid of having Mr. K fly, as the nervous nelly – with no flying experience – that he is. So we will drive for days, with a different old friend of his to stay with, in a different city, every night of the trip. That’s fun, right?

The daunting things?

During the second negotiation with the Dean, I literally felt the tenure clock start ticking. It was almost audible. This is why he is so incredibly amenable to giving me such a reduced teaching load for next year and (a slightly less reduced one) for the next. Tenure expectations are going to be very high. Not that I imagine staying there that long, but you never know. It was a bit chilling, feeling myself cross into that world. It was like some invisible hand turned a screw.

It turns out I am going to be buying a condo to live in. I am borrowing some money from each of my parents for the down payment. I recognize how smart this is on a boring number of levels, including that the place where I’m going is pretty much guaranteed to be unaffected by any potential real estate crash. But since I am not much good with money, the idea of having a mortgage, well, freaks me out. Guess I’d better get good, and soon…

The new city is outrageously dog-unfriendly. Among its other outrages.

But that’s not so very many bad things at all. So all in all, things are looking up.


In other news, I had coffee with my former Supervisor yesterday. She offered for me to housesit for her for the months of April, May, and June. This is exactly coincident with the end of term, the end of my needing to spend several days and nights of week out of town in Uni City. As much as living at A’s has been wonderful, really wonderful, I was truthfully a little worried about how we would fare once I am here all the time, beginning in April. The space just isn’t big enough, nor is it really conducive to me working, as I will need to be doing full-time. A is fine with me taking up this offer. A whole (beautiful) house to myself! For free! I am a lucky, lucky girl.


Flavia said...

This sounds really great, Hilaire--and congrats on all your negotiating!

Speaking as someone who recently moved to an entirely new city myself, I've been surprised by how many of my friends have already come to visit me here, and how many more have professed serious interest in doing so. I've also been surprised by how easily I've met new people and how easy, ultimately, it was to slide into a place I'd never even visited before my campus visit, and where I knew no one. (Somehow, everyone I *know* knows someone here, and I've benefited from those connections.)

I know this isn't your dream job or location, but I think that the many advantages of *having* a real job, a professional identity, and--goodness!--real estate will go a long way toward compensating you for all the less-than-ideal parts.

Tiruncula said...

Congratulations on excellent negotiating! Doing the drive and buying a condo sounds like excellent adventures. You have my sympathies on the dog-unfriendliness and the general ambivalence about the move. (When we found the University of the Blogosphere, there'll be a dog park and doggie daycare on campus and a petsitting cooperative.) Program-building sounds like fun, though!

medieval woman said...


((big hug!))

MaggieMay said...

Wow-- I can only DREAM of a 1-2 load. I am so jealous! Congratulations on what sounds like the beginning of a very good thing.

dbm/gaa said...

Rock on with the 1-2 load! You'll need it with all of the visitors you are having.

Getting a morgage freaked me out too, but once you have one it feels like rent to the bank. I know that is probably an incredibly immature way to look at it but that's how I keep from freaking out about it. What freaks me out more is all the work we have to do on this house!

Hilaire said...

Thanks, guys...yeah, I'm pretty lucky on the teaching load for next year. It is becoming much easier to see the positives in all of this...

Flavia, I have to remember how right you are about how easy it will be to make connections, likely. I have no trouble making new friends in academic settings. Last year, within a couple of months living in last year's Uni City, I had made some very close friends. And, like you, it seems absolutely everyone I inform about my moving tells me they know someone where I'm going - it's quite astounding, actually...So I have to remember that, too.

Tiruncula, I love the idea of doggie daycare, dog parks and petsitting coops at the University of the Blogosphere...You and I can strike that committee! (Cause I don't think we can escape committee work even in the blogosphere!)

And Grumpy, I think you're right - thinking about it as rent to the bank will be smart. I've had a numebr of experienced people tell me I just need to be organized about it, get everything in my life coming out of my bank account automatically, and all will be okay...

What Now? said...

Hilaire -- All of this sounds wonderful. I know this isn't your dream job, but you're clearly making it as dreamy as possible -- way to take agency, and good for you! Certainly it is scary to buy property (I was freaked out for several months after doing so), but it is true that one just sets up automatic payments with the bank, and then you don't have to think about it.

And the tenure clock beginning to tick: In some ways, it's useful to be hearing this, so long as you don't get freaked by it. I've known people who spent their first couple of years just relaxing into having a TT job and then ran around in a panic for the next few years, trying to catch up. I'm a big fan of "slow but steady" in this regard, so I think it's positive to have that eventual road marker in mind from the beginning.

Oh, and fabulous news on the house-sitting!