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.
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.