Sunday, January 28, 2007

Indulgent dog blogging

Some weekend dog shots...

This is Mr. K last night, schnoozing in front of the fireplace while A and her GF hosted a dinner party:

And this is Mr. K and Charlie, A's dog, getting ready for a walk today. Look how they're opposites! Mr. K wears his jacket 'cause he needs to; Charlie just wears the team colours in solidarity. The two of them are joined at the hip; they just LOVE living together. I do regret taking Mr. K away from this relationship when I take up this housesit in April...although it's not far from A's, so they can have plenty o' dates.

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.

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I am now officially negotiating my job offer; the powers that be approved the hiring committee's recommendation of me for the position. Finally. So I had my initial discussion with the Dean yesterday. It wasn't as bad as I thought, as I had been warned.

I had been informed by the chair of the hiring committee that it had gone through and he'd be calling. So yesterday I put in a call to the faculty association at the university. I wanted to find out about actual salaries at the university - and in my unit - before trying to negotiate this. The new Uni has no salary grids, unlike both the place I teach now, and where I was last year (and many - most? - unis in Canada). As a person with exactly zero negotiating skills, I was pretty afraid of negotiating with no set scales. So I called up the Faculty Association and a short while later they emailed over some numbers for me. The salaries were higher than the Dean had led me to believe in my conversation with him at my interview. Ha.

About four minutes after I'd gotten this email, the Dean phoned for our initial conversation. Though he wasn't talking specifics about anything else, the first thing he did was throw out a salary figure. He lowballed me. And there's no way I would have known this if I hadn't called the Faculty Association. A lesson for me about the importance of doing some research! Anyway, of course I told him that was too low and I have the sense that he'll give me what I asked for. And everything else seems okay, though there aren't yet specific numbers attached to things. He seems flexible.

The worst part of this was that I didn't feel anything, in learning that the hire was going to through. I wasn't full of joy or relief - a reflection of my utter ambivalence about the place. Then last night, during and after my class, I had two more students tell me they'd heard a rumour I'd be leaving, they wished I could stay, I would be an asset to the department for my strengths in such and such an area. Damn. Damn, is all I can say. You know how much I want to stay here. I wish it didn't affect my feelings about the new job so much. But it does.

New job is not without at least a glimmer of hope, though. I did talk and email with my new colleague this week, about the courses I'd be teaching next year. It's a great load, allowing me to teach some wonderful stuff. And it was clear to me that I will really have some pull and some weight, and some ability to shape things. (Disclosure: I will be building a program from almost nothing.) Since I have lots of ideas, this is really exciting. Too bad it wasn't at a different place. We can't have everything, though, right? And it doesn't have to be forever.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

The joy of writing...and writing about teaching

So I have been stressing out because I have this writing deadline. I decided in the late fall that I wanted to submit something for a journal special issue. The submission deadline is March 1. Though I wasn't giving myself much time, I decided I had to wait until after the winter break to begin - too much life chaos before that, and it was Onslaught of Marking, as well. And I had a fully sketched plan, which is not how I usually write. I figured that would help a lot.

Well, the last couple of weeks have been hard. I haven't felt able to write, really. Too much going on practically, emotionally. It's been hanging over my head. I wrote a page longhand this past week, but that was all. I have been stressing. Not cutting myself any slack. Feeling as if my failure to produce a submission by the deadline would somehow reflect poorly on my person in any number of ways.

But today? I wrote 1000 words in two hours. Two hours in which I also looked up some references, and emailed some students about my research data for this paper. I can be productive when I need to be, but my rate is about 300 words an hour/tops. For me, this is great. I couldn't believe it!! And it feels as if it's 1000 usable words, words that actually say something. It is a great feeling to be in touch with that level of productivity and ease again. I remember that I am someone who loves writing, and can usually do it with ease. I don't know why I forget this so often. We all do, I think.

I think part of my motivation around this was that I'm writing about teaching. I'm writing about teaching what I research, in fact. And how it converges with the theory that I also teach and write. I've never had the opportunity to write about teaching before, in any scholarly way. I love it. I feel as if it closes the circle. I have written before about how valuable it is to teach your precise area of research. This takes that even further, allowing me to take the time to also work out what my classroom experiences - and what, most of all, my students - have taught me. It's a way of honouring them.

And some of them might end up written into this paper. I emailed a few of them today because I unexpectedly began writing about an assignment they'd done in Precise Area of Research class. It occurred to me that being able to reference some of what they'd actually written in that assignment would strengthen my point - it was, in fact, this assignment that was so powerful that it led me to formulate my paper. I am happy to be able to showcase them as great thinkers in their own right. I think good students need exactly that kind of recognition. One of them wrote back to me to say that she was so happy one of the many essays she'd written could actually be of use to someone. "Exciting!" she wrote. It is exciting.

(By the way, I also feel hopeful that the groove I've entered with the writing is going to have a positive influence on my blog writing. I have been feeling completely devoid of intellect and originality of late, and couldn't fathom writing anything of much interest. Now I can, maybe.)

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Fried Saturday night update

I've been recognizing just how much you can cocoon when you're part of a couple. Because now that I'm single, I'm socializing far too much when I'm in Home City. So much so that I feel as if I haven't had any down time for ages...weeks, really - because my time in Uni City is so intense, too. Nor have I had adequate time to do my work - and there is a deadline looming, and one page written. Ugh. I went out last night for dinner and wine, and today for brunch and a movie (Volver - what a great film), and went for a run, and a long dog walk...And now I'm just completely fried and can't fathom doing anything else all weekend. I think that once a weekend already has errands and long dog walks and runs built into it, adding other stuff is...not too much...but it's a lot. I need to find some balance again. In fact, I cancelled some plans I had for tomorrow - no more being "on", please! Although it's certainly nice to see my lovely, lovely friends in the midst of all the upheaval right now.

But now, it's Saturday evening, and I should be doing some writing (of the scholarly sort) and all I want is to settle down on the couch and watch the stupidest film I can find.

Some elements of the week:

- My ballet class met for the second time on Monday night, and it was significantly better than the first, absolutely chaotic, meeting. Although the teacher still doesn't use the mirrors enough! This is a huge, beautiful, brand new dance studio with an entire huge wall of mirrors - you'd think she'd really be taking advantage of those - they're so helpful in learning dance. I feel like slipping her an anonymous note...

- I feel as if I have some students who are crushed out on me. I don't know quite what's going on...I could feel some of this energy before the break, and now feel it more strongly. I haven't really experienced this before, at least not to this extent. (I hate to seem arrogant, but it just seems to be the case. You know how this is one of those things you can instinctively feel, when someone has a crush on you?) There is one case of this that could turn out to be a problem...she even said to me the other night (after lingering post-class so that we could take the bus together) that we should talk when our classes are over. Oh, dear. What could we possibly have to talk about that needs to wait until classes are over, hmmm? I am just trying to ignore this. But I know how powerful (and delusional) that teacher-love can be. We'll see. I may post about this some more at some point. I like this student a lot, and want to encourage her - she is very bright. And now I feel as if my encouraging might just perpetuate this. As if it already has. She's even said that the thing that motivates her in school is relationships with her profs...she really seems to form serious attachments. Ack.

- The office-space-hog-debacle has not improved. Ugh. I can't even talk about it - I'm so annoyed with how I've handled it and what has transpired. How could I be such a wimp in something so important? It makes me not like myself.

- I'm still waiting for the formal offer from the place that's supposed to be offering me the job. Sheesh! Not that I relish the negotiation, but still...(I have heard that it is just taking time, not that they're not making an offer.) It means I'm inhabiting limbo on this level, as well as every other. It means that I feel suspended, with no imaginable future. Which is, in a sense, alright, since I'm so unenthused about the place. It means I literally don't think about it. Job, future? What job and future? But perhaps it would be best to be able to start making some plans so I can move out of come on, offer!

- I had a facial yesterday. Someone had given me a gift certificate for a spa, and so I chose a facial because my skin looks just terrible in the winter because I'm so pale - every winter, people are constantly looking worried when they see me, and asking me if I'm tired/ill/alright. I get this almost daily right now. Hence the facial. It was okay. But when I met up with my friend for dinner last night, she immediately went on and on about how radiant my skin looks. Without knowing I'd been for a facial. Hmmm...guess that shit works. Too bad I wouldn't pay for it myself.

- It's very, very cold and icy. And I'm loving it. Because it feels right. The springlike weather we had for weeks was positively creepy.

That's all, really. I have some actual issues I'd like to post about, to get feedback on, but I'm too tired for it. Maybe in a couple of days. I'm off to have a cup of tea, maybe, and eat some cherries (is anyone else finding them on crazy sale right now?) and watch a movie on the couch.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Memory problems

I'm a wee bit concerned about a newfound tendency to forget Important Things in my job.

Two recent cases: I had a student who was supposed to mail me an essay before Christmas (I'd given her an extension for legitimate reasons). Last week when I was sorting out paperwork and submitting grades, I realized I hadn't seen the essay. (I did have some very vague, internal nagging about this being an incorrect assumption.) I mentioned it to her in class last week, and she said that I'd sent her an email acknowledging that I got the essay. Indeed, I see that I did. Good god. I have no recollection of this, nor do I have a clue where the essay got to...

And just today: I sent an email to a student that I was trying to have moved from the waitlist to the class roster in my new class. It was turning out that she needed a form for various complicated reasons. I let her know this, and emailed something like "you'd better get on this right away..." She called me back and reminded me that she had, in fact, been in to talk to me about this and had me sign the form last week. Which I now remember. But sheesh.

I am just chalking this up to more discombobulation than I realized about my breakup and move. But it makes me a little nervous. How could I have let things get so far away from me?

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The baby professor

Oh, god.

I may have mentioned that last month I presented at this colloquium at my uni. It was only about a dozen researchers from across the uni, but quite well-attended. I presented some of my very rough work in progress on this book project.

A couple of weeks ago, a writer from the uni's communications department (or whatever it's called) contacted me to ask me for a slide I'd used in my presentation. She told me she was really interested in my research, and that she was going to be including some discussion of it in an article for the next in-house, pat-ourselves-on-the-back publication/piece of official propaganda.

Sure enough, the piece came out today. The article about the colloquium is huge and up front. There is a close-up photo of me giving the presentation, instead of the image from my presentation. I look about fourteen, tops. Both my Chair and the admin assistant commented that they didn't even recognize me. Whereas in reality I have a quite long and angular face, the angle of this photo makes me look like I have that particular kind of very distinctive round-faced look that young teenagers often have. Also, my hair is unkempt, somewhat in the manner of a high school student. (Note to self: investigate hair strategies!) I look like their little child prodigy prof!

As if that were not bad enough, there is quite a long description of my presentation, which (predictably) schematizes and oversimplifies it. But the worst is that the author says something like "Prof. Hilaire is one of the only scholars doing academic research in this area". Now, I did not, I absolutely did NOT, say that!! It's not true. How arrogant-sounding! What I said was that there is a dearth of research from the particular perspective I employ and field that I work in - that is true. But that's very different from seeming to imply that I'm some kind of boldly original (baby) scholar, daring to tread in completely unmarked terrain.

You start to see how misconceptions arise. If I hadn't met me, I'd have an eyebrow seriously raised, if I knew anything about the field I work in. I want to go and bury my head under the covers for a month. Sigh.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The first real weekend

I had my first real weekend at A's. It went okay. I was fighting off a fair bit of sadness, though. Especially yesterday, when I made muffins and lay on the couch reading the paper and just missed GF so much, because that was so typical of our weekends together.

But it was a busy weekend, full of fun, friendly diversions. On Friday night, I saw my friend Rob, the one I have a reading duo with. We weren't talking books this time, though. We went to a busy, relaxed neighbourhood pub at an earlyish hour and stayed till the place was about to close. Our sweet server said to us indulgently, as she was finally bringing us the bill, "Wow - you two have been here a long time." That was mildly embarrassing.

On Saturday night, my friend Kim and I went for a long overdue dinner out - our Christmas present to each other, we'd decided. We went to another place in my new/old end of the city. Ate excellent tapas, drank quite a bit of really good wine, and told secrets. That was fun. Kim is someone I met through her partner, her husband, who was my friend for years before she was on the scene. Now I'm much closer to Kim than to her husband. They have a fraught relationship, and Kim and I talk a lot about the dynamics between them (they seem profoundly unsuited, in many ways...). Last night - the wine talking and the secrets flowing - Kim asked me to promise to tell her if it ever becomes clear that they should end their marriage. She said what I know all too well, which is that sometimes it is hard to really see the relationship when you're in it. So she wants to rely on me to say something when I think it's devolved too far. That feels hard, but I see what she means about the loss of perspective.

This morning I had brunch with an old friend, someone I worked with in publishing for ten years. She's a CEO now, of a high-profile entity. She and I go back such a long way, have such a profoundly symbiotic relationship on so many levels, and yet we're so incredibly different. I thought about how this can work so well in a friendship, and yet is so challenging in a relationship. It's what ended GF and I; it may well end Kim and her husband.

In between, there was dog walking and a complete failure to work on the projects I have to accomplish. Oops. Tomorrow - no joke. The problem is beginning the paper I need to write. The problem is always beginning.

The other thing about this weekend has been the sense of revisiting my life. Since this is the end of the city that I grew up in, it all holds so many memories. Within a fifteen-minute walk, there are:
- one of my high schools
- the former office of the place I worked from 15 (!) to 25 years old
- the home where I was a nanny for one of my teachers for the summer
- a park where I did mushrooms
- the park where, earlyish in high school, I got together with my first boyfriend
- the place where my last boyfriend worked, at the end of high school
- the house that holds my very first memory (hiding under my mother's dresser - which is now my dresser).

I can't escape the feeling that all of this is telling me something, coming as it does at this incredibly transitional time in my life.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Space Hogs

I'm so pissed.

Back at the beginning of the year, I wrote about the difficulties of having to share office space with someone. It turned out to be okay, in the end. She set a schedule that saw each of us here four half days a week - I went along with this because I was trying to be easy to work with, and I didn't really care that much. It turned out she almost never came in. Literally. Except for one day a week, she wasn't using the office when she said she was going to. And she stopped letting me know she wasn't coming in. So I would dutifully spend chunks of time in the office of a colleague across the hall, for no reason - she just wouldn't come in. I realized halfway through the term that her not being there was a function of her absolute, chaotic disorganization, as well as of the fact that she lives one hour's drive away. She couldn't get it together to get in to use the office before she taught, for example - she would literally always be flying onto campus 3 minutes before her classes. It was working fine, though, overall.

Not anymore. Yesterday, I sent her a very friendly email suggesting some revised hours for use of the office, taking into account our slightly different schedules this term. She wrote me back the nastiest, most passive-aggressive note. I was shocked, shaking with anger. I closed my office door and just swore. Judging by the tone of this note, she has been harbouring some resentment toward me for, uh, using our office. When she's not here, and has no intention of being here. Go figure.

I don't know how to convey what she said without getting into really boring details of our schedule. But the part that bothers me the most is this veiled accusation that I have been inattentive to her needs. When she has never, not once, told me her needs beyond that she needed the office for at least one full day a week. Which I then offered to her. In fact, I looked at my old emails and when I began the conversation about sharing the office, my initial proposal was that we have full days, not half days. She turned that down, and is now passive-aggressively accusing me of not accommodating her need for that. Uh, okay.

The larger issue here is that this is very clearly a territory-marking thing. She's pissing on the territory of this office just because she can. She is demanding a full day in here on a day that she doesn't even teach - a day that I do teach. So I don't get access to my office on a day that I prep and teach, and she's proposing that she - disorganized as she is, and never once having come in on a day that she doesn't teach - has the office on that full day. The thing is, she'll probably never make it here. And yet she has to stake her claim. And push me out into someone else's office, away from my books and papers and an Internet connection - all of which I use when I prep.

Don't mistake me; I fully intend to give her half the week in here (even though she doesn't use it). It's just that I think it is ridiculous to push me out entirely on a day when I teach and she doesn't, just because she can't get her act together to get here before class on a day when she actually does teach.

What is worse is that this insane territory-marking bravado comes from this person who styles herself as a giving, loving, motherly, sweet feminist type. Give me a break.

(I guess the honeymoon with my department and colleagues is over, huh?)

The larger issue here is space and territory-marking in general at this university. There is a space crisis here - that's why we have to share this office. But I have learned that there are several fancy people who maintain multiple offices at different locations on the campus, and never use them. There is all this office space sitting empty because people are being greedy and protectionist. Bah. Piss off, all you space hogs.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Multiple ughs

Okay, so it’s my first day back at work in Uni City and I’m.freaking.out. Too much paperwork! Too much unfinished business from last term! The toll taken by the last six weeks or so is now apparent to me – I guess the emotional and logistical drama really did me in. So that I headed back to Uni City this morning with a few ungraded pieces of work from last term, which I rushed to grade so that I could submit my grades (due today). There are all sorts of confusions, all sorts of bits of paper and information I haven’t successfully kept track of. This is not my style, not at all. It is making me hysterical.

Tonight I start a new class. My fourth-year class on Precise Area of Research was just one term (whereas my Theory one continues for the rest of the year). It is being replaced by another fourth-year seminar. I was thrown into teaching a version of this course last year, at Last Year’s Uni. It is outside my area of research, but there are theoretical connections I make to my own theoretical interests and agenda, and I had the kind of cursory familiarity with the literature and issues that many people with a PhD in the general area have. I ended up having fun with the course, and it was well-received. But it was at a second-year level, so it was easy to seem very knowledgeable. Now I’m teaching it as a fourth-year seminar, and a little nervous about my lack of true expertise in the area. I think it will be one of those courses where I function as a catalyst and an experienced – and theoretically oriented – reader and researcher. A kind of facilitator. Fortunately, it’s a topic on which I suspect students will have a lot to say. And I’ve got some great readings that are sure to draw people out (I think). I sure hope so.

Other Random Bullets of Life:

- Mr. K was attacked by a Great Dane yesterday at the dog park!! Mr. K had been bugging this dog a bit – he loooooves the big dogs, especially Danes, and gets barky in their faces, trying to get them to play. But the Dane hadn’t seemed particularly bothered. A couple minutes after he stopped bothering her and wandered away, they were standing about 30 feet apart, ignoring each other. Mr. K had his back turned to her; I think he’d forgotten she even existed. The Dane’s walker extracted a hockey puck she’d been carrying around in her mouth, and the Dane went berserk and charged Mr. K – who didn’t see it coming, of course. He screamed! Thankfully, the walker got the Dane off immediately. I thought at first Mr. K had just been screaming out of shock and fear, but I realized a few minutes later that she had actually bitten him in the corner of the eye! It bled a little, but nothing too serious. Should be kept under control by antibiotic cream. But my god – he could have lost his eye! That’s so bad, randomly attacking a dog in the face! My poor guy.

- Speaking of Mr. K, ex-GF (how weird to now call her my ex) came over late afternoon yesterday to pick him up and take him until Friday morning. This is to be our routine. We’ll have a bite to eat together every week this way. It was so sad, though. Ugh. As much as I want us to be in each other’s lives, and Mr. K demands that we be, it does make it really hard to disentangle. If there were a transgression or a betrayal, it would be almost be easier. I could turn to anger and bitterness.

- After ex-GF comes over on Monday nights, I am going to an adult beginner ballet class at Very Prestigious School. I went to the first class last night. It was so nice to be dancing again; after fifteen years of other forms of dancing, my body is attuned to having the kind of relationship with my mind that listening attentively and moving to music demands. I liked the instructor a lot; she was high-energy, young, a sweetie. And she is a very experienced and accomplished dancer. But the class was chaos. It’s an hour and fifteen minutes, and we did – I kid you not – at least a dozen things!! As someone who has danced forms that demand precision and care, I found it really disconcerting to whirl through so many things. There was no attention to detail; she’d explain something for, literally, a minute, and then we’d do it. She wouldn’t generally go around and coach people on proper positions, etc. But ballet is all about tiny, fine distinctions of position! That felt really unsatisfying. Even if this isn’t going to go anywhere – I’m obviously not about to become a serious ballet dancer – I’d like to actually learn a skill well. Yes, fun is important…but it’s not enough…

- I went for my first run in my new/old neighbourhood yesterday. It was totally depressing. I think I went the wrong direction…I felt like I was breathing sick, dead air…everything was grey. I felt out of place.

- And I do wonder about ballet and running at the same time. I’d imagined I’d spend this fifteen-week ballet class doing barre exercises that required little exertion. If last night’s class was any indication, though, it’s a lot more than relatively sedentary barre work, and it will be harder on my body than I expected. And I’m in good shape! So we’ll see how I do, training my legs to do ballet-type things at the same time as I train for a half-marathon.

- On the job offer front, I spoke to someone interesting on Sunday. A person my ex-Supervisor knows – and writes references for – actually was offered the position I am being offered. Last year. There was some hard negotiating, and in the end, she turned them down. Ex-Supervisor had urged me to talk to this person, and I finally did. She had tons of interesting – and alarming – things to tell me. Well, not so alarming, really, since I’d gotten a sense of the, er, challenges the institution is facing. But, gee, negotiating with them is just going to be a bowl of cherries. Great.

How whiny I’m being. There are good things:

- My schedule at the Uni is better this term, which means I’m in Home City more: I only stay over in Uni City Tuesday and Wednesday nights.

- The L Word, Season 4 started Sunday night. There will be Monday downloading (as it only aired in the US, and anyway, we don’t have cable) and Monday night watching. The premiere, which we watched last night after the ballet class, was satisfyingly over-the-top.

- I have lots of fun dates with friends planned for this weekend.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

All settled in

Well, I've moved.

The move yesterday took about 6 hours, what with various trips across the city to pick up a couple pieces of furniture and a trip to the storage facility to dump off most of my belongings, before driving over to A's, where I'm now all settled. I imagined it would take me at least until the end of today to unpack and settle in, but I was almost entirely finished by about 11 last night, and did the rest (a total of about half an hour) today. Now I'm ensconced in my tiny, oh-so-cozy room, staring up at the dark wood ceiling. It's lovely.

Mr. K seems to be adjusting very well. He is curled up on his bed in front of the fire - he's always drawn to fires. I've put rescue remedy in his water, and have been putting it on the occasional treat. It really seems to be doing the trick. A big dog park is less than ten minutes' walk away, and he has his old pal, A's dog Charlie, to soften the blow. Charlie is the most relaxed dog I've ever met. Compared to my Mr. K, who is high-maintenance, a live wire, Charlie is practically comatose. In the best way, of course - he's a sweetie. My being here lets A go and stay at her girlfriend's - she couldn't before, because there's a cat over there, and she couldn't leave Charlie here. So I'm happy to be able to help them out that way - and since Charlie is such an incredibly chill dog, it is not a bit of extra work.

It's strange to be back in this part of town. This city is characterized, like any other, by several implicit geographic divisions. Districts develop their own histories, their own very distinct character. In moving to A's, I am essentially moving back to the part of the city I grew up in, and then worked in for years. The part that made me who I am, in many ways, but that I consciously moved away from, to the other side. It's very strange, though - this pocket of the city continues to draw me in. The last time I was between homes, between relationships, I spent five months in this very neighbourhood, renting a room from a grad school colleague/friend. That house is a 3-minute walk from here, tops - about 3 blocks away. I don't know what this neighbourhood is telling me, pulling me back over and over again. No matter; I like it a lot, even if I once turned my back on it - and, if I were going to stay in Home City, would inevitably leave it yet again.

I do miss GF incredibly. We had dinner out on Friday night, the night before I moved. It was emotional. And, because we'd had some wine, rather honest. GF told me again that my liabilities are that I am "nice, honest, and straightforward." Sigh. You'd think such qualities would be a benefit in a relationship, but apparently not. I'm up for an affair here or there, perhaps, but no more of this relationship shit for a long, long time. I shall marry my work, thank you very much.

Still, though, this has been remarkably smooth. And that smoothness comes from A. I am lucky to be able to spend the time with her that this housemate situation will afford, especially if I am to move far away to take up a job.

I met A in the fall of 1998. She was in a band that my new girlfriend, JZ, was in. They were a little four-person outfit that was all the rage for about six months, playing academic events and lesbian parties with their repertoire of Peggy Lee, Ella Fitzgerald, and Al Green songs. A played the drums. The band ended, my relationship with JZ ended, and so did many of the other friendships and relationships that came out of that little slice of our Home City lesbian history - but A's and my friendship has held on. She is brillliant and competent - she can fly a plane! build a patio! landscape a garden! scuba dive! make art! psychoanalyze you! fix anything! play the drums! sing beautifully! - and freaking As shitty as the circumstances are, I'm awfully pleased to be able to live here with her for a while.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

What moving feels like

Late this afternoon, I finally started packing. I've been sorting, organizing, until now.

I packed a lot of books. I have that sharp back pain already, the one that's so familiar from the many, many moves I've done in my life. I hate this familiarity. When will I stop moving? I'm so, so tired of it. I'm tired of doing it alone. If this were packing to move with GF, it would feel different. Now, doing it by myself, packing just feels like a return to my essential aloneness. It feels like a confrontation with the failure of my relationship.

Packing away books. Most of them will go into rented storage, along with most of the things I own. All I'm bringing to A's are clothes, a half-bookcase of books, CDs, a few files and office stuff and a few pieces of art, including the new one. What I like least is putting away my many books. I guess that, as an academic, books are my identity. Putting them away reminds me that I barely know who I am right now, really. And I have no clear picture of the future.

The worst of it was finding, between the pages of a book I was leaving for GF, a copy of a letter I wrote to her. It's not dated, but I think that it is from 2003. When we were having intense problems. It is a detailing of pain, and a cataloguing of the ways I felt about her. As I put it, I needed to express, even in the face of the walls she was putting up. Ha - as if that would help. We ended up in counseling. We tried so hard. And it didn't work.

But sometimes it feels as if it could. It has felt that way this week. I must be crazy, letting us be this close this week. Making her a real dinner last night, dessert and all. Curling up three nights in a row with her to re-watch Season 1 of The L Word. Continuing to share a bed with her. Cuddling. She has even been calling me from work, in the afternoons. Just to say hi. We haven't done this for ages, had this call every day. Not since last spring.

And you know why I think it is that she's calling me? Because she's lonely and terrified. Because the date I stupidly, forgettingly picked to move out is an anniversary date for her. The date that makes January difficult for her. The 31st anniversary of the tragedy that defined her, that made her her the enigmatic, soft-hard person that she is. The trauma I've never been able to really understand. That lack of understanding has, I think, been part of the tragedy of us. How could I be so stupid, to pick this week, this very day, to move?

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New boots for a new year

There were these boots I'd been eyeing in a shop window since September 30 (to be exact). They were way, way too expensive. But oh, I longed for those boots. Then GF and I were out on Monday night, trying to find a *$!%# restaurant that was open on New Year's Day. During our wandering, I noticed that the longed-for boots were now on sale at a major discount.

I went back to the store yesterday. They had hardly any left. But they had my size! I bought them.

(Edited to add: Wow, this picture is bad - it shows the boots as shiny! In real life, one of the things that's great about them is that they are *not* shiny, not at all. They have a matte, almost worn, quality that suits their slightly odd, olive green colour.)

Oh, it is so satisfying to get my hands on these after all that fantasizing about them...

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Dog co-parenting

Since I am moving out of GF's place this weekend, I have begun to prepare in earnest for that.

I've also been thinking about what life is going to look like for poor Mr. K. I talked to GF on the weekend when I was away. She said he was mopey and whiny and missing me. When I returned yesterday, he was thrilled - as he always is. Just so happy. Though GF claims that he is closest to me, I see this behaviour go the other way, too. He is watchful and less than happy when she is not here. All in all, he is very clearly happiest when we are both home. He's in his element, loved and doted on by his two people.

So it kind of breaks my heart to have that togetherness end - this time in terms of what it means for the dog. GF will have him from Monday evening to Friday morning, when I will pick him up and take him for the weekend. At A's, where I'm going to be living for the next six months or so, there is another dog, one that Mr. K knows well. So that will make him happy, will possibly distract him. But there is no other dog here at GF's house. There is just GF and not-me. And when I move for a job in the summer, I will be taking him with me to another city. Away from her. I find it really sad that one consequence of this breakup is the loss of that very happiest state for Mr. K.