Sunday, November 11, 2007

Study in contrasts

I'm now back in the beautiful, mountainous "boonies" where my honey and I now live. After spending a week with my academic colleagues in New Jersey, I fully re-acclimated myself to a more, shall we say, cosmopolitan environment, and I felt a bit sad about leaving. Don't get me wrong, I was excited to see Coffeeboy (and the two cats and Coffeeboy's dad, not to mention the lovely new wheel!), but this switching back and forth from the big ole' northeastern seaboard to the small-town life is definitely a study in contrasts.

Certainly, I've really enjoyed getting a taste of the small-town experience these past three months, but I wonder if a lifetime spent almost entirely in major metropolitan areas hasn't affected me in ways I was hardly aware of. It'll be interesting to see if I like the quiet better for this time surrounded by people, or if I'll miss the people more. The move has certainly been a learning experience, a good one, and I'm looking forward to learning more of what this particular set of contrasts has to teach.

As for this past week, what can I say? In many ways, it was quite stressful, as evidenced by the fact that my stomach felt odd much of the time and I didn't sleep well (whether because of couch-surfing, being away from my own bed, the proposal defense, or the readjustment to grad student life, or all of this, I don't know). Despite the stress, I also had a simply a wonderful week. I got to experience sunny, crisp, cool fall weather with maple leaves blowing and crunching underfoot, something I always love. It felt absolutely great to reconnect with fellow grad students, shoot the breeze with them and faculty about things academic and things non-academic, get advice and feedback from professors, and to attend a workshop/seminar with a visiting scholar. I even feel like things are all right (and fixed if they had been broken) with people I'd parted from awkwardly, and that leaves me much more centered. Now that I know how keenly I can miss the stimulation of intellectual life at the university setting, I can think more clearly about how to take positive steps to alleviate some (but never all) of the loneliness of dissertation-writing. And perhaps it will give me even more impetus to find perspective in the woods.

Or on the spinning wheel and the needles!


Sheepish Annie said...

I think that a little "change of pace' does us good. I like to shake things up every now and again...well, actually I don't. I tend to stay in my rut. But I always feel better after a change of scenery so I suspect it's good for me. ;)

Glad you had such a successful and enjoyable trip!

Greta_Jane said...

Sorry not to call back. I remembered that I had some grading to do. Oops.

To read what my students wrote, you would think that all of Burough Park spent the 1970s dropping acid.

Danielle said...

A fear of mine about both becoming an academic-- not likely to happen now-- and getting involved with an academic-- far more likely-- is the fact that you likely won't get to choose where you live. Very unsettling and frightening to me.

Jessica said...

Definitely sounds like a big switch for you between environments, but both definitely have their merits. Give yourself some time down there. I think you'll grow to appreciate both. Hope you are enjoying the new wheel!


The_Add_Knitter said...

As an academic and someone who was raised in a large, liberal city and is now living in a conservative semi-rural area, I can completely relate to your posting. My credo: tap in to whatever is good where you live, and get the most out of that aspect of life there, and you'll lead a rich life!