Saturday, October 11, 2008

Home City

I arrived on Thursday morning. I'm here in Home City until Tuesday afternoon. I'm staying at R's. She's not here. She's in Chicago because she's running the marathon tomorrow. That was a trip we were supposed to take together; I had it booked. But, of course, we're not doing that. Because we're not together. I saw her for a few hours on Thursday when I arrived here - so strange. It made me sad, and I've been haunted by that sadness ever since. I feel as if I missed out on my one chance at happiness. That she's all set to move on, in this city that she loves. That I'm far away from it and, in letting her go, have lost my chance.

So on one hand it's great to be staying here - it cushions me from the blow that inevitably will occur because I no longer have a Home in Home City. I get to be in this place I lived in for years, and not be confronted with the feeling that I don't know where to go in my very own city. But it has been underscoring, more than I expected, the fact that R and I are over and I'm in a place - literally and metaphorically - that gives me no hope.

It's been beautiful weather here in Home City, and I've walked a lot, feeling the sense of deeply embodied comfort that is the most striking thing about this place. Yesterday, because I need weight and other equipment to do my physiotherapy regime, I went and used the gym at the university - a gym I used for six years, but stopped three years ago. The guys at the front desk recognized me, and were excited to see me. They see thousands and thousands of people a year and they recognized me? It touched me. It made me long to be back in that part of the community, to be able to walk there, to work out there. And then I thought of something: If my job in Scary City continues to feel unbearable, I do need to think about leaving. If nothing changes next year, and yet I'm unsuccessful on the job market (or, as with this year, there are no jobs to apply for), then I might very well need to just walk away from the profession, lest I end up up sacrificing my happiness and health to it. And maybe I could see about working at the university here in a non-professorial capacity. Finding a job that draws on some of my skills - working as a Research Officer, for example.

Everyone tells me that I am the person they know who is best suited to being a professor. I sort of know what they're talking about...it does fit me. It hadn't occurred to me (duh) to think about other ways to continue working in the university. I couldn't think of anything else I'd like to do. This seems a bit hopeful as a back-up. I know that what I'd rather do is find a professorial job at a place that doesn't break me. But it's helpful to begin to recognize another option. And one that could take me back to Home City.

13 comments:

plam said...

I've thought about working for a university in a non-professorial job in the past. I don't think it's for me: being staff seems to be very different from being a professor, and not in a way that I could handle. I am lucky that it's currently a moot point, though.

You obviously need a new job, though, and it's hard to say what would work best for you. (This is always a hard question!)

Maggie said...

I'll be looking at non-academic jobs, too, you know. Maybe not this year, but definitely next. I'll be eager to read about your journey with this...

Anonymous said...

(((((Hilaire))))) I don't have much to add other than I'm glad that you are starting to put your health and well-being ahead of "soul-sucking U". I will keep sending positive vibes your way and of course to Diamond...

-DN

Pantagruelle said...

I'm in your Home City (well, actually the western suburbs) right now too, until Tuesday, for the Thanksgiving weekend. I sooooooo know what you feel about the feeling of comfort about being here. I know it must be hard given how things have gone with R, but do try to enjoy being here for the long weekend! I will raise my wine glass to you!

Marcelle Proust said...

I'm glad to hear that you're thinking of alternatives. I hope you find what you most want, but sometimes knowing there's an acceptable Plan B makes many things easier. Bonne chance!

What Now? said...

I, of course, am very supportive of the idea of walking away from academia rather than let the circumstances of a particular job break your spirit. I'm glad that possibility feels like a viable option for you; good to have that tucked into your back pocket as you encounter the job market this year.

Earnest English said...

{{{{{{{Hilaire}}}}}}}

I'm sorry things are so sucky right now. But I'm glad that you're looking around and thinking about other possibilities that would make you less miserable than your miserable job. I'm sure there are a number of things you could do (work in a non-profit, maybe?) that would be more rewarding than a bad job.

Hang in there, Hilaire! Do something lovely for yourself today!

Thoroughly Educated said...

What What Now? said, and more hugs from me. Also, I'm in Home City from tomorrow night and am free during the day on Monday, so if you'd like to get together for a coffee or something, drop me an email.

Maude Lebowski said...

hilaire,

i know exactly how you feel right now, re: the job situation, about being in a place that sucks your soul, that makes it hard to focus on being healthy (though i think, for what it's worth, you're doing all the right things in that department). and i know how hard it is to see an ex move on, or to perceive that the ex is moving on quicker than you are, and to feel like you've missed your chance. i still, mostly b/c i don't have an asst. prof job yet feel that way b/c the ex is halfway to tenure now, and i could have moved with him. and when i found out that he was getting married (and we've been broken up for 3 years!) i just started crying. even though i am, now, in a stable and loving relationship, it still hurt that he gets to be the one to get married first--that he made that step w/someone else and didn't want to w/me, even though i'm better off w/o him. the point of that is that it's still very fresh for you, so you are still in the stages of grief, and should not be too hard on yourself. i'm glad that you're thinking about options and thinking about yourself, and how to take care of yourself.

you know, there's a marathon at the end of march near my city (that's a boston qualifier no less!) that i want to train for, b/c i've never run one, if you find one around that time, we could be virtual training partners. i don't know. just a thought to help you move forward.

sorry this is long. i feel like it ended up about me, but it was supposed to offer support and hugs. i hope that came through.

<3,
maudie

m(mmm) said...

(((Hilaire))), I know exactly how you feel. Right now is about coming to terms with those feelings of lost chances, lost happiness, and lost hope. People keep telling me that I have to feel my feelings and live my way through them. They keep telling me that eventually I will make it and be better and stronger for having endured it. I'm not yet willing to trust them, even though I desperately want to. It seems that the hardest part is figuring out what's important and what will make you feel whole in the future.

It's been a real eye-opener the past couple of months on the capacity for cruelty in the academy. All it seems to be good for is breaking souls and breaking hearts.

I'm going through the same thing in terms of perceiving my ex as moving on quicker, better, easier, etc., even though it probably isn't true at all. I don't know how to reframe the meaning of shared lives once they are no longer shared.

Here's a virtual hug and a hope that you grab hold of a little bit of peace today. If maude is your virtual training partner, I'm happy to be your virtual life- transformation partner.

Hilaire said...

Thanks, all, for your support. You are all amazing.

Maudie, I don't think I'm a marathoner, but your idea is a lovely one - you're so sweet. I've run half-marathons, but a marathon has never appealed to me...too much insane body-breaking, too much food-planning...and I don't get enough protein to begin with. I'm still not even running again after the broken knee - but hopefully soon. But maybe sometime we can train virtually-together for a half. I was thinking I'd do a spring half in 2009, but now it looks like I'll have surgery in April, so that won't work. But perhaps next fall.

m(mmm) - Thank you for that. We are in *such* similar places right now. I'm not willing to trust the adages about time healing all, either, right now. Someone said to me yesterday..."Oh, it'll get better...Think about how awful you felt life was after you and (ex) JZ broke up - and you got over it." And I thought, yeah, then I was in my twenties, I hadn't been in the relationship for six years, I hadn't worked and worked on it like this, and the rest of my life didn't feel like such a fucking disaster. It's different when you're older. It's different when other things are unhinged and you feel out of your element and estranged from the things that you should take some comfort in, like place and job. I think you know what I mean. So, I thank you for being my virtual life-transformation partner. I may call on you that way!

adjunct whore said...

hilaire--there is no job worth this much pain. that doesn't mean you need to leave academia, but for sure it means you should get out of scary city and all the unreal crap you've endured.

i'm sorry about R. thinking of you, aw

Sfrajett said...

I agree that it is most excellent that you are imagining alternatives to having your soul crushed. Administrative jobs can lead to bigger and better things down the road--you never know. The important thing is to be happy. Nothing is forever--not teaching, not exile from teaching. I will write more about that later, but for now I think you are definitely taking care of yourself for once. Yay!