Wishing settling in were easier
Well, except for hanging pictures and cleaning up my home office, I'm pretty much settled in. Physically, at least. I know my way around town, more or less, and have sussed out places I'd like to hang out, places I'd like to see, and places to shop. I may have found a gym, and have explored the park adjacent to campus. My English neighbors have agreed to show me the running trail that runs from near our apartment complex through some wetlands. The cats seem happy enough.
In practical terms, moving early was a good idea. In personal terms, not so much. I'd forgotten about the fact that I don't like to be isolated -- and I am a person prone to allowing isolation to build and fester. It takes me a while to make friends, and I'd forgotten how much I depend on them. When my friends are around, available, I don't have to be with them all the time. It's enough to know they're there. But now, everyone I love is very far away. Only as far as a phone call or e-mail, but still, very far. And although this seems to be a friendly town, it's the friendly of polite, and courteous, and superficial welcome. Or maybe I'm just bad at making friends. I'm definitely kind of picky. And it's a small town, so I'm trying not to make too many false steps. But at the moment, I feel pretty anonymous.
There are some great things about the town. Parts are really beautiful -- very old buildings in styles I love, built with materials that don't have to worry about earthquakes. I'll post pictures soon -- Really! I went out on the balcony this morning with my tea, and the cats and I watched wild rabbits on the lawns between the apartments and the houses that on the adjoining property. Every morning, despite having the windows shut to make the most of the A/C (although I think I should shut it off and open the windows on cool nights), I hear the songs of birds that I mostly don't recognize. I hear birds at night, too -- something I never did in Old City.
I stumbled across the mall the other day, where I found that $23 pedicures do exist (big yay!), and there is a bubble tea stand! There is in fact one Thai restaurant, supposedly pretty good, although I've not found it. And there are two Indian restaurants, one supposedly good, the other to be avoided, or so I hear.
It's funny, though. There seem to be several towns here, each with its own population, and I can't yet see where the intersections are. It's very alien. I think this is true for faculty, too, just from the little I've seen. The older faculty, as far as I can tell, all live in the town itself. They live in these amazingly beautiful houses built no earlier than 70 years ago, some much older. They are the old neighborhoods, green and lush and rich, like the old neighborhoods around my Grad U, full of charm and azaleas. They are the neighborhoods of the respected members of the community, of those with roots. New faculty will never be able to afford those homes. They must live a bit further afield. The housing boom that comes from people who work in local humongous city (an hour and a half away) looking for affordable homes means that anything near SLAC is aleady far out of a junior faculty member's price range.
SLAC is changing, too. I'm happy for the changes, because they mean I can continue to research. I must publish to be promoted -- that's a new thing, because SLAC prides itself on being a teaching school. As my departmental colleague said, though, SLAC can't grow the way it wants to, and draw the students it wants, unless it expects actual scholars as well as teachers. But in the couple of collegial conversations I've had so far, I get the feeling that there is far more tension between the old guard and the new over this than I'd thought. I want to do well here, and I'm scared there might be more landmines (aren't there always?) than I had anticipated.
But I don't really know. I've only seen two colleagues since I've been here, and I don't start for weeks. Perhaps, once I get moved into my campus office, and get into tthe swing of things, I'll feel better about this. Right now, I'm really frightened because my old CC library had a better collection, and I've just been told that, no, we don't have access to JSTOR. I have a feeling I've been hired to be the assertive person I was at my interview. I just hadn't realized that meant I might also end up being the person wearing a big freakin' target as I ask for library resources, research resources, and try to get the things I really need to do my job well.
Today, though, I need to get my office together. I want to go pick up the houseplants that my wonderful friends in Old City bought me. Thanks!!!!! I want to tidy up the place and maybe watch the Germany-Portugal match (Gooooo, Deutschland!). Maybe I'll even go to the gym, although that would be three days in a row -- a first for ages. What I'd rerally like to do is find a nice little breakfast place in the pedestian precinct, where I can sit outside and have a coffee and read. Maybe even read something like the Peter Heather book that just arrived. Maybe learn to like the isolation. Well, probably not on that last. Maybe I'd better get organized and put up a to-do list!