The calm before

August 23, 2008

The more accurate title for this post would be simply “updates”–but I’m not the type to leave it simple now, am I?

D got here on August 9, ending a 40 day long distance period which, I am relieved to say, wasn’t hard at all on my end. Well, maybe it was hard for the first two days. And then I had a grand, perhaps long overdue realization: I can do this. I can live on my own. Once upon a time I could fill my whole day all by myself, and happily. This isn’t to say that being in a serious relationship and then being married had stunted me, I think, but more to say, it’s easy to lose track of your capacity for independence. It was much harder for him, w/o the novelty of a new job and a new town to distract him. But for me, it was perfect. I had a month to settle in to a new group of colleagues and a new set of responsibilities, and more importantly, a month in which no one wanted to talk to me when I got home, which made it much, much easier to get my butt in the chair. And in the chair is where it needed and continues to need to be–the radio silence I’ve once again slipped into over the past couple weeks is mostly due to the fact that I’m making a sustained effort to get my writing act together and get my head straightened out to commit to meeting some (mostly self-imposed) deadlines. I will be submitting work to journals this fall. I will be making a final decision about more graduate school. I will be coming up with a book-length manuscript to call a thesis and then tear apart and call my first book. As the Mistress of Wide Lawns and Narrow Minds and I discussed over local food in Iowa City this summer, it is important to decide these things and commit to the work it takes to mean them, regardless of the outcome. The outcome is not what I own. The work is what I own. I’m glad I had a month to practice before writing officially became the reason I only see my husband about two hours a day, even though we once again live in the same state. And that’s not just fine, it’s as it should be, at least for right now.

Shortly after D arrived, the rest of the new faculty arrived for their two-day orientation. At the college where I work, librarians are considered faculty (my title will actually be assistant professor now that I’ve completed my terminal library degree). Although I have absolutely no illusions about the parity of my intellectual accomplishment on this front (in fact, I have a major insecurity complex, as you probably know), it makes a huge difference to be included even if in name only. Instead of being shunned to my office, I got to spend two days with everyone else who is new around here, and they got to see me as some kind of peer. That’s important for the library, politically, and it’s important for me socially. It was also wonderful that tenure track and temporary (they call us “term”) faculty were treated equally during the orientation, and will be treated equally over the next year when it comes to conference funding and grant consideration. There’s a lot of very progressive things about this school that I will miss when I move on.

Anyway, the long and short of orientation was, D & me now have a social life! After a month without so much as a beer at the bar, we’re headed into our second straight weekend of having places to go and people to see. It’s just like new student orientation–this is a small town, and this is the time when everyone is silently asking will you be my friend, so I’m hitting up as many barbeques and happy hours as I get invited to. When I’m too busy, I can stop, but for now I can work around what feels pretty darn important–getting friends, being a friend. And last weekend’s Madonna’s 50th party left no doubt in my mind that indeed, I have found a fitting niche for myself this year, a place where I am viewed as not just an okay but a good dancer. Scary, right?

Things are about to get more intense as new students are pouring into campus as I type and classes start on Thursday. I think my workload, which has been kind of light, is going to take off, and I say bring it on. I’m ready to earn my keep around here. Still, it’s been nice to ease into it, and to have had some time to myself.

All of this is not to say that I’m not missing the company of a few select Floridians, ex-Floridians, and others. I have a few more letters I’m meaning to write, and some thoughts on other stuff I hope to get up here soon, and (bonus!) Iowa state fair pics. But right now I’m off to Saturday red, Iowa style. I’ll let you know how it goes.

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