Tuesday, May 15, 2007


As of today, it has been exactly two weeks since I was offered the new job. It feels like it's been at least a year. The first day or two, I was just kind of stunned -- by that point, I'd been through what felt like a record number of MLA, phone, and campus interviews without an actual offer, and I was starting to feel like I was just interviewing for the sake of interviewing, as if it were just an eccentric and not especially enjoyable hobby without an actual goal at the end. The academic job market warps your brain in some really weird ways.

Anyway, I'm still a little stunned, and pleased, but the fact that I'm actually leaving is starting to sink in. I've cleaned out my office and brought home the large collection of books and the plastic dinosaur named Jesus that my dissertation director gave me when he retired (I hasten to add that he didn't name the dinosaur Jesus; that was all me) and tossed most of the old student papers going back to Fall of 2000, when I taught my first section of freshman comp. It's a little startling to realize that most of those students are older now than I was when I taught them; I wonder what they're doing now. (I know one of them did go on to major in English, so I can't have warped him past recovery.) Actually, they were a real gift of a class; I didn't realize until much later how lucky I'd been. I came into the classroom one afternoon and discovered that they'd been writing a collaborative poem on the blackboard and wanted me to add a line, and even the ones who were flakes or screwups or appallingly bad writers were thoroughly nice. I can still name at least two-thirds of them without even looking back at the class roll, and would probably know them if I saw them -- it's the later classes, the ones from years two and three and four, that are starting to fade. I was surprised to find that I didn't even recognize the names on some of the papers. And I felt, for sure, that I'd been in grad school a little too long -- but if I'm lucky the coming years will be much, much longer. Seven years is nothing. Except when it feels like it's everything.

I've been stocking up on books from the library, too, since I don't know exactly when my account is going to expire, and I keep thinking, "oh no, I've never read The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon / George a Green / Ariosto's satires / whatever, and what if I don't have a chance to read it again?" This is, of course, a completely daft way to think, because that's what interlibrary loan is for, but the hoarding instincts are strong, kind of like a chipmunk preparing for winter, so here I am with cheek pouches an apartment full of books that I may or may not have time to read. I might write about some of these books later on, because notes and random thoughts are always good and I may as well use this blog to record them.

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