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 just...me...at 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.