Monday, December 10, 2007

Back in Home City

I arrived back in Home City on Saturday. I'm here for four whole weeks! (Well, next week I'm also going to Dad City and M City for the week.) I feel like I've been gone for two weeks, not five months. I can't get over how easily I've just slipped back into my old life. I expected to feel disoriented or something, but no. I'm home. With R in the house, and in the big, wide, urban world, outside of the house. It's not all about excitement, but I wouldn't want it to be. Home is about comfort. I am so happy to be here.

This week is dinner date week...Every night. Egads. I also need to get work done...WANT to get work done. Some of my own work. I really have been craving, for the last month or so, turning back to my own project. I have some exciting new directions to pursue...some reading before I turn to writing the first chapter, in January. So I'm hoping to get at least a couple of hours of reading done each day...Laced in between other bits of work, and a few daytime coffee dates. R works all day, so I am relishing this time to get my own work done.

The big thrill - besides seeing R - was seeing Mr. K. He peed on the floor from excitement when I arrived on Saturday afternoon. He has been inordinately happy ever since. Never stops wagging. I imagine that to him, it's like some kind of miracle that I've returned...


In being here, and talking about it with R, I've already achieved some clarity about what has been going on in these last few months. It's not so much about Scary City with Potential, my unhappiness, as it is about the job. The institution. I could handle Scary City if I liked the job. I definitely could. But the uni - ugh. There is lots I haven't felt comfortable blogging about, that would show you what I mean. Just know that it is quite an unpalatable place, and it isn't just me being whiny. Cases in point:

The other night I went out for dinner with two friends who have been hired at SCwP U over the last couple of years. A good part of our evening together was spent exchanging the tales of our distress and dismay during our interviews and the negotiation process. All of our stories involved tears and resistance. (I was thinking last week about how my interview was exactly one year ago. I cried for the entire flight home, knowing an offer was likely. And those of you who read me last December will know that I was very ambivalent when the offer did materialize.) Each of us chose this job against our better judgement.* There's something important in the fact that all of us had this gut reaction - and that we each feel disillusioned enough about the job to be honest with our colleagues about this at this stage.

A few days later I had dinner with another colleague, also hired in the last couple of years, who asked me quite early on, "Can we be really honest tonight?" And told me s/he - though in a senior position - is trying to get out. It is quite telling that this person - who ostensibly has a lot of power in the world of SCwP U - is fleeing. S/he feels lied to, betrayed, manipulated. Those aren't exactly the sentiments I feel, but they're not far off.

So it's pretty clear that the place is poison; it's not just me. It is clear, too, that I need to get out. And I sort of wish in retrospect that I had applied for jobs this fall. Not having done so puts me there at least another year after this one. But it is good to realize that I'm not alone, that I don't have to feel like a whiny ass for not being "grateful" for this job, and that there are alternatives. It is interesting to me that I couldn't quite see this until I arrived in Home City. But at least I've seen it.

Off to take the dog for a long walk and then settle in for an afternoon of reading...

*This says something really quite depressing about academia - that none of use felt it made sense to turn down these offers, even though our guts told us to run far away. The job market is tight, and we have internalized ideas about sacrificing ourselves to our jobs...Yuck.


Maude Lebowski said...

thank you for posting this. particularly as the soldier boy and i have been struggling with finances of late, i have been thinking a lot about what would happen if i did get a job offer, if it is my only job offer, at a place that i don't feel good about going. granted, i haven't gotten interview one yet, but it's still something i think about as a possibility. it would most likely mean leaving a partner behind and the dogs, so should a situation like this arise, it's good to hear/read what you've learned about it. thank you.

uh, did any of that make sense?

Psychgrad said...

Are you and these colleagues that you mention in the same department? I'm wondering if the issue is departmental or beyond?

From an outsider's perspective, you have seemed unhappy over the past semester, relative to earlier posts. Does any of this relate to the in-class environment (e.g., students less receptive to instruction as a symptom of the university's mentality, you being less happy at the university or university city resulting in less of a connection with students, etc.)?

Anonymous said...

I am de-lurking to express my sympathy for your situation. That and I think you and I are from the same home city! I too am I am going home to visit a very special 'four-legged, tailed' family member. It truly is the best part of Christmas!

Back to your situation though... I am glad to hear you're not the only one feeling that way at "Awful U". Perhaps this will make the next year a little more tolerable...

kermitthefrog said...

I'm glad you've figured out that moving will be, eventually, the right choice for you. Sometimes just knowing that you have an out you're willing to take can make a difference in the amount you can endure an unpleasant situation, you know?

heu mihi said...

I'm sorry that the job is still so unsatisfying, and that so many others feel the same way--that *does* suggest that something is institutionally wrong, and that it therefore might not be going away anytime soon. On the other hand, you know with certainty that it isn't *you* (not that anyone here would have thought that it was!).

And I'm so glad that you're home! Being with R, in the city, and with a certain Mr. Dog must be wonderful indeed. Enjoy your break!

medieval woman said...

Oh Dearie, I'm so sorry the environment has proven to be toxic there. Do you feel better about realizing this, facing it, finally? Do you feel like your decisions about your future are a little more solid?

And I'm so happy you're home - pet Mr. K and give R my best!


Maggie said...

I am going to be very curious to see how all this develops over the next couple yrs, as I see my own situation as so analogous :) I'm glad you're able to enjoy Home City for awhile. And Mr K too!!

Hilaire said...

Hmmm. I replied yesterday and i thought my comment was saved, but I guess not.

Maude - I'm glad it helped. Last year when I was agonizing over the job offer, it helped a lot to hear a couple of bloggers tell me it was okay to turn down a tenure-track job.

Psychgrad - They're actually not in my department. Not even in my faculty, actually. And i know of people in a third faculty who are as upset. So it does seem endemic to the institution as a whole. As for the in-class thing, that's an interesting question. It's quite possible that my negative attitude has found its way into the classroom somehow, and is being reflected back to me by my students. I have to be very careful.

Anon and Kermit - yes, that's it exacrly. I do think I'll be able to rest easier now that I've realized this.

Anon - Hope you have a wonderful time with your furry friend in Home city!!

MW and Heu Mihi - Thanks. I do feel better and more clear about my future now, MW. Definitely very much so. I know I won't be there. That's something, at least.

Maggie - Yes, analogy! Well, you know I'll keep you posted on all of this, in more ways than one!

Earnest English said...

I don't know what to say, Hilaire. Oh yes I do.


Rest easy for a while. Enjoy the wagging, the love, the familiarity, being able to work. I'm thinking of you.