Thursday, June 16, 2011

Making the move

The process of moving a household is crazy, so I won't focus on that, lest I start to cry or panic. Instead, I want to focus on moving on to the new job.

One strange thing about getting a job is moving into a new phase in your life. For example, I am having to force myself to stop looking at jobs. I have been looking at job ads for several years, trying to find something in the discipline or in central administration that fits my interests. I now have to take myself off the disciplinary website job notification list. When I read through the Chronicle (yes, I still like the hard copy), I have to flip quickly past the job ads to the essay on the last page. It is difficult to remember that I am "off the market" in my professional life.

Instead, I am going to a new position, and I imagine being there for several years. If I have any interaction at all with the job ads, it will be posting one for a faculty hire or keeping tabs on them for former doc students and friends who are on the market. (One of my favorite things is helping other people find the right job. I have been successful in helping several students and friends find good positions.)

Also, I am moving up the food chain in terms of my new administrative role. This new role will include a budget to manage, faculty and staff to lead and supervise, and many more decisions to make on a daily basis. It is a classic win-lose: I get to be creative, and I bear the burden of responsibility for successes and failures. I am excited and nervous about this new role, and I know that I truly will not understand the pressures and the benefits until I have had the position for a while.

I have been packing up my files and books at work, thinking about what to keep. Examples of departmental assessment plans and tools: keep. Committee notes related to my former job: toss. Presentations and articles about best practices in leadership: keep. Information from my own presentations so old that the suggested references are from the 1990s: toss. I am still not sure what to do with pictures of former students, copies of teaching evaluations from my current school, my tenure packet, etc. I am likely keeping them, probably until the next move or a future time when I don't smile when I see them.

As I pried the nameplate off the door, with my old administrative title underneath, I imagined the new nameplate with my new title. There is something magical about a new beginning: so much potential, so many possibilities. I am ready, I think, to move on.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The last hurrah: Summer teaching

I am partway through the summer teaching experience, and I have been reflecting on the pros and cons of teaching summer school classes while preparing to leave the job and the state. Here is a small list:

PRO: Less time to be sad, as free time is spent preparing for and teaching class

CON: Less time to pack and prepare the house for the move


CON: Summer school never really pays enough, as it  is only a percentage of my regular salary. But money is money.

PRO: Spending time with students who are interested in the course topic and using our extensive time together to quickly build a sense of community.

CON: Grading. 'Nuff said.

PRO: Evenings and most weekends are mine.

CON: Getting up early in the morning in the summer is just lame.

PRO: Parking is easy on campus in the summer, as most students and faculty are gone. 

CON: They don't have the air conditioning turned to a reasonable level, and my classrooms are terribly warm during the high heat outside. It is difficult to be fun, smart, and engaging when your clothes are sticking to your body, and the students are struggling to keep their sweaty faces from falling down on their desks.

PRO: Hanging out and chatting with staff members who are not quite as busy as during the school year and who are happy for some (faculty) company.

CON: Never seeing other faculty on campus and feeling like the only one who is working in the summer.

PRO: Being energized by great discussions and learning by students.

CON: Being physically, psychically, and emotionally wiped out as we leave to drive across country and get ready for the new job. 100+ hours of teaching in one month--all of it in multi-day, long-ass stints--is sure to take a serious toll.

I am hopeful that the 2 weeks I have between when I arrive in my new town and when I start the new job will be restorative enough that I can hit the ground running (as opposed to crawling). I will try to make sure I do positive things in the new place, like get a massage and a pedicure, and perhaps spend a little time reading books on the Kindle. I am planning to adopt a strict, no work plan for that time, as well.

So, just a few more weeks of teaching, and then we make the big move!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Oh, to be out and renting

Having been a longtime homeowner, I have forgotten what it is like to rent a place to live. After visiting our new city seeking rental housing, I am remembering what it is like to be out lesbians in search of rental housing.

Now, we are a good rental risk. I have a very good job with a solid salary. My partner and I own a home and have excellent credit histories. We are both grown-ass women who are responsible, relatively quiet people who will treat a rental home like our own.

We are also pretty obviously lesbian. Even if you couldn't tell by looking at us, there is this little matter of relocating (across the country) for my new job. But still, some people don't get it. So, each and every landlord will either figure it out or we will have to come out. And, in this state, s/he has the right to tell us that s/he will not rent to us. That is a scary and somewhat depressing space to enter.

I always go into public spaces as if everything will be fine. The gf assumes discrimination is more likely than not to occur, though she also knows that people make business decisions that may not be aligned with their prejudices. She is often correct about the discrimination and reactions we face, but I cannot deviate from my more positive and hopeful approach, which works best for me.

On our trip, we saw a condo being rented by a very friendly man. The condo meets all of our requirements, it has a fantabulous view, and it is one hell of a bargain. We gave all the hints we could about our worthiness as renters: I mentioned my faculty status and being an alumnae of his preferred school; the gf noted that we could write a check for the deposit/1st month rent today and that she has local roots. He was nice to us, even as he told us about the very conservative church he attends.

When we went back to measure the rooms and ask some follow-up questions, he seemed more nervous and asked if we are related. He noted that we look like sisters. Now, we look NOTHING alike, but this kind of comment is commonplace for lesbians, especially those of us in longtime relationships. Our familiarity with one another--the sense of our family--is clearly identified, even if people cannot tell what the situation is. We said that we weren't sisters, but didn't come out in the moment.This conversation reminded me of this great book, pictured below, that gets at this experience.

Lesbian couples, traveling together, are often asked by men, "Are you girls traveling alone?" As if the two women couldn't be a couple. The book is twenty years old; one would hope that it is outdated, but it seems still strangely relevant.

We offered the condo owner to sign a lease and write the check during our second visit, but he declined, saying he would get back to us. Before we left, though, the gf went back in the condo and came out to him more directly. It seemed like the honorable thing to do, though we think it spelled the death knell for our renting the place. (He called and told us that he was renting to someone else.) Sigh.

At another apartment complex, they explained that the gf and I had to fill out separate applications, even though married couples filled out the same application. The gf was so irritated that her application was illegible.

The best experiences we had was at a home being rented by a lesbian couple and a home being rented by a young, straight couple. The wife in the straight couple was our primary contact there, and she seemed very laid back and accepting of our relationship. The lesbian couple wound up chilling in the living room with us for a few minutes, hanging out, sharing stories, and learning about one another. Perhaps the best part of those visits was just feeling comfortable and accepted. Though we don't plan to rent either of those houses, we hope to hang out with them (or people like them) once we move.

The rental home search made me even more aware of the class privilege the gf and I have as people who can purchase our own house. We don't have to worry about pleasing anyone to buy a home. But without protection from discrimination, any LGBT renter can be refused a rental. What will we do about that?