Sunday, September 14, 2014

Moving on

I had a tough time in graduate school.  Many (most?) people do, so I am certainly not unique in that.  It was, however, nearly always grueling and very often traumatic.  I felt like I was the worst version of myself: the most neurotic, anxious, tightly-wound, unhappy, irritable person I could be.  But now, miraculously, I find myself in a vibrant small city, with kind colleagues and interesting students, with a paycheck and dental insurance.  I feel the surfeit of anxiety and anger and cynicism and defensiveness beginning to wash away.  And that---stay with me through the apparent non sequitur here---is in large part why I was so excited about The Dates. They seemed somehow emblematic of this new life, of new possibilities and opportunities, of potential.

Making a glass of wine emblematic of a major life change assigns it enormous weight, so I'm trying simply to note this feeling and do the next thing: grade the papers, find a place to jog, begin to meet people at my new church, reply to emails, go on another date... all without freaking out too much.  

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Update: Actual Dates

So the first one was fine: nice conversation, nice guy.  It was friendly and collegial.  Sitting on a dock on a river watching the sunset while engaging in a little pleasant chatter with a beer in hand is a nice way to spend the evening. 

The second one was...


The second one was the way I imagine first dates should go.

This is even though I was late [&@£$ one-way streets and poorly marked parking garages in new cities!!] and overdressed [Miss Manners would say it's better to be overdressed than underdressed, and my friend A. would firmly insist that there's no such thing as overdressed].  There was a glass of good wine and a stroll around the historic downtown of the city and a few art galleries.  He was a good conversationalist, kind, funny, interesting, and well-mannered.  I found him delightful.  It was a lovely evening.   

So now I am trying to remember that you can't know much about a person in half-a-dozen emails and one evening.  I am trying to remember that a lovely evening is simultaneously both no small thing and a very small thing indeed.  I am trying not to check my phone compulsively to see if he has called.  

Friday, September 5, 2014

Not Not-A-Dates

Stop the presses.  I went on A Real Date last night (pint on a deck overlooking the river) and am going on another one tonight (swanky cocktail bar downtown).  If you're counting, that's two real dates in thirty-six hours, approximately the same number that I went on in four years in my previous town.

I continue to feel as though I am leading somebody else's life, not my own.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's for dinner

David Lebovitz's roasted tomatoes.  Because my eyes are bigger than my stomach where the farmer's market is concerned, I have had a surfeit of cherry tomatoes over the past few weeks.  I have cooked them as Lebovitz recommends and eaten them: with a spoon directly from the pan, tossed with linguine with a teeny bit of pecornio romano grated across the top, and thrown on top of a pile of mixed greens with a few kalamata olives.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Settling in

So the antique mirror is above the fireplace.  A huge bouquet of flowers, courtesy of Best Friend O. is overflowing from a vase on the dining room table.  My grandmother's silver tea set is on the cabinet, and my great-grandmother's tea cups are inside.  The bookshelf is up, anchored to the wall, and filled with all the fiction (alphabetized by author), poetry (ditto), and miscellaneous art books, atlases of foreign countries, and crumbling antique foreign-language grammar books.  None of the plants, dug up in haste from my perennial herb garden and dumped unceremoniously into an assortment of pots, have yet died on the balcony.  The keys are in the little bowl I made as a small child on a table by the door, the good sheets are on the bed, and the cat is lounging on the desk, draping his paws over the edge.

In short, we are settling in. 

And part of that settling in means looking around and imagining a new life in a new place.

So there's the overwhelming task, overwhelming even to an extrovert like myself, of saying yes to every. single. invitation, even when it means you end up at a departmental party, looking lost, trying desperately to find some nice cheerful soul who will introduce you around so you can talk to somebody.

There's the trip to the grocery store that takes twice as long as it should, because you have to walk the entire length of the store three times before you find the bread. 

There's the church-hopping.  Best part of church hopping?  Getting to sing one of my favorite hymns four weeks in a row at four different churches.  Worst part?  Sheepishly raising hand during the "Are-there-any-newcomers-here?-please-raise-your-hand" announcement at one church, and the being completely ignored by those around me.  Awesome.

I don't feel lonely yet.  I'm recovering from a stressful summer and I am, frankly, still tired, so I've been sleeping in my spare time.  But can imagine that some time soon I may be lonely, in part because everyone is married here.  Now, I'm sure that's not true.  It can't possibly be true.  But in almost a month in new town at new job, I can't think of one person I've met who's single.  Not the co-workers, not my boss, not the new postdoc, not the IT folks, not the people I've talked to at the churches, not my TA.  Not one. 

But at the same time, I'm more relaxed in my single state than I've been in a while.  Firing up that old online dating profile to see if anything new floats to the surface in a new town several years since the last attempt has reminded me that what I've got on my own is no bad thing.  For instance, I was matched with a man who had a self-disclosed preference for a girl with "nice eyebrows."  I have no idea what that even means, and must confess that I giggled.  I mean, who on earth thinks that, much less writes it down for other people to read?  And the bigger issue still is that I promptly thought "are my eyebrows nice?" and actually thought about this later that night when I was brushing my teeth.  I looked in the mirror and evaluated my eyebrows because some stranger on the internet said he like nice eyebrows.  That's clearly a stop on the train line to CrazyTown.  So I just need to remember that being single, even if it is the extreme minority, is frankly more appealing than assessing eyebrows.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

For the first day of the semester

A useful reminder: students want professors who challenge them and care about them.

A call to arms: teachers need to shape the discussion about education reform.

A soundtrack: something to hum on your way to class.