01 February 2008


So here's what I haven't been blogging about for the past few months: we're moving. New jobs, new house, new part of the country. A couple of my colleagues read this sometimes, so I didn't want to spill the beans here before things went public at work.

We're moving.

I'm still trying to get my head around this, despite the fact that I've known since June that things were likely going to shape up this way. June is a funny time for an academic interview, but for a variety of reasons I can't explain on a (presumably) pseudonymous blog, we ended up with some off-cycle interviews, and amazingly, have managed, again, to end up with a pair of tenure-line job offers. A pair of tenured job offers, in fact.

So, we're moving, and I'm a lame-duck department chair, which is an interesting role. Last year at this time, I was going through my first round of performance reviews with my large (60+) department, and it felt like the first in a long series. I approached the reviews with the sense that I was going to be the chair who'd shepherd the assistant professors through tenure, who'd (hopefully) coach a few associate professors through their second promotion. Now, we all know I"m leaving, so that throws my role into some confusion.

I get reviewed by the other full professors in the department. One of them asked me last week, Why do we review you? If you view performance reviews as supervision, it doesn't make sense. But if you view performance reviews as a way of gauging how individual work helps add up to the department's collective work, it does make sense. This is the most cat-herding part of the year, because some people welcome the performance review, some are constitutionally opposed to them, and some just don't give a fig either way. So I write my reviews partly with an eye on the colleague's attitude toward it all, partly with an eye on their career trajectory. I'll still meet with everyone to talk about their reviews--after all, their career paths don't stop for a year just because the department chair is changing.


Why Germany in the title of the post? I need to think of a pseudonym for New Hometown, but for today, it's Germany. We visited Germany--the real Germany--last summer, and one of the cities we saw in Germany has a name that, if you are a small child and transpose sounds and then change a few sounds and rhyme them, sounds a little like New Hometown. It took me several months to figure this out, as it explains Curious Girl's questions like "Do they speak English in New Hometown?" "What if I go to school and I can't understand the people?"


We're downsizing. It's likely we'll end up in a smaller house than the one we have now, and I figure that's only a problem if you try to have stuff that exceeds the function of the smaller house. So I'm sorting through things. I just found library bookmarks from my hometown library that I probably got in 7th grade. I cleaned out a jewelry box and found the gold honors medal I got for graduating 8th grade. Actually, I didn't get it at my 8th grade graduation. I had the top grades in my class, as I recall, and thus qualified for a $300 scholarship for high school. But because I had won a scholarship from another source, the school didn't give me the $300 scholarship. They gave it to the next kid down. I didn't mind that so much, but I did mind that I left graduation without so much as a card or certificate or little medal that went with the award. I stewed about that for months, and finally my parents said, "Well, write to the principal." So I did, and she came to the house after dinner one night, apologized, and gave me this little medal. I didn't throw out the medal, but I think I might. I can't figure out a good decision rule about memorabilia. I don't want to erase my past, but I'm not sure the 8th grade medals need to come to Germany. (That said, another thing I have to decide about is the box of little medals and pins that my favorite uncle--now deceased--did save from his high school and college. I'm not sure what to do about those.)

But I was rather pleased to unearth my "Books, like friends, should be well-chosen" bookmark. I loved my hometown library.

Wish me decluttering strength, please.


Songbird said...

Ah, may it all go smoothly and may your life be sweet and, yes, uncluttered! (And are you moving near me? Anywhere near at all?)

Rev Dr Mom said...


I hope the moving goes well.

And if you're anywhere near Songbird you wouldn't be too far from me!

billie said...

Congrats! I hope your decluttering and shifting and reprioritizing go well. You'll get lots and lots of these questions... but are you moving anywhere mean me? :-)

Arwen said...

Oh, yay! Good for you both! That's so exciting!

Moving and decluttering can be hard, but can also feel very good and organized and clean!

I have one big box with memories in it. It tends to go into storage, and I only look into it when I move - but I move enough to know what's in there. It's added this interesting layer of memories: now my 9th grade musical poster is also a memory of all the times I moved the 9th grade musical poster!

Arwen said...

Holy, that was a lot of exclamation points. I must be feeling alarmingly joyous.

Anonymous said...
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niobe said...

Moving is so hard, because it seems that everything has to be reevaluated.

Are you moving near me, perchance?

Magpie said...


And good luck on the decluttering. I'm terrible about that.

Anonymous said...

I have it on good authority that English is spoken in New HomeTown.

But.....here's my contribution. Save the medals and other non-paper memorabilia. (And the paper memorabilia that you are truly attached to). CG will want to look at that stuff. I was obsessed with my dad's band awards when I was a kid, and now....my nieces are in love with my sister's Girl Scout badges.

But, that's just me. When I declutter, clothes and kitchen crap and sheets and towels go. Sentimental crap stays. (I go with the "if I haven't used it, it goes. If I haven't used it, and think, but I MIGHT want it in the future, but it could be re-purchased, or borrowed from someone else, it goes." camp. Of course, for the less sentimental, there's my friend's method: she took pictures of sentimental things (when she moved to the actual Germany) and then threw out the originals. I can't imagine it.

Your mileage will vary.

Congrats on the new job and the moves!

Ianqui said...

Wow, congrats on the new job! You sound a little hesitant about it--I hope you're really excited, though. It's really fantastic that you got 2 tenured positions.

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

(waves arms) Me! Me! Move near me! I'll help you carry boxes and everything.

Big congratulations, especially on the 2 tenured positions. That's huge.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Hooray for Germany!

I've had to really become ruthless about saving things from my past -- small house, no storage space, etc. I've found it strangely freeing, actually. Easier to march into the future when I'm not loaded down with so much stuff from my past, you know?

But, like PPB says, your mileage may vary.

Scrivener said...

I'm really glad that the job thing worked out so well. I won't presume to offer advice on decluttering because there is absolutely no way that I am better at it than you are. This summer I ruthlessly went through boxes of crap that had been stuffed in a closet and made a huge pile of stuff to through away, which got shoved into boxes and moved into the garage as an intermediate step to the garbage. Those boxes are still there. Sigh.

I hope your decluttering goes better than mine, though. And best of luck with the move.

Bardiac said...

Congrats on the jobs!

I hope Germany treats you well all around. :)

comebacknikki said...

Congratulations on the jobs! That's so fantastic!

elswhere said...

If you were on this side of the world, I'd give you all our empty boxes as a moving gift. As it is, I'm sending much decluttering strength, as well as my admiration that you're starting in so well ahead of time.

Also, congratulations! I hear Germany's very nice.

chichimama said...

Congrats and good luck!

Jody said...

Congratulations, I hope it all goes very smoothly. Twin tenure -- fantastic.

We had three dumpsters in the twelve months between spouse's first interview with current employer and eventual move. It was AMAZING. We would put anything usable down on the curb and it would be gone by morning, and meanwhile, all the junk went into the dumpster. I know it's not necessarily the MOST eco-friendly approach, but seriously, it was magnitudes of order more efficient.

FlyLady has a ton of extremely useful information about decluttering in the context of the move. Her rabid 1950s heteronormativity drove me away from the site after I'd gotten what I needed in terms of inspiration, and the sneering I did at some of the more idiotic editorial commentary about the effects of decluttering were a pleasant diversion.

I love tossing stuff. In general my rule was, if I'm not sure, I'll hold onto it. Now, almost four years after our last move, I'm beginning to donate/toss the stuff that hasn't been unpacked yet. (Thank goodness for ample storage....)


JD said...

Wow! I haven't checked in here since before the 1st, and so I'm late to the news, but wow, wow, wow.

Two tenure jobs is fantastic.

So, really, is the potential for decluttering, though I can see how it'd be difficult, too.

If Germany happens to be anywhere near me (though I fear not), I'll help with the schlepping!

timna said...


all I can say about decluttering, well, no. I can't say anything. I still have a closed room full of stuff from 10 years and 3 houses ago. wonder if my debate trophies from high school made it to Israel and are lurking there. I have no idea.

you'll let us know if you're nearby, right?

julie said...

As Timna says: you'll let us know, right? Big congratulations - on your secret-keeping! I'm in awe.

What Now? said...

A belated comment to say WOW! Congratulations! Extraordinary to have gotten two tenured positions, and now you have a new Home Town to look forward to. I'm sure there will be lots of stress and strain in the next few months, but the whole thing sure is exciting.