Little lost letter

I send a holiday letter to my Aunt Em (one of Dad’s oldest friends), even though I don’t hear back. She must the same age he is, 86 or so? Her husband died about 15 years ago; on a day Dad was visiting me. I may never forgive that boyfriend for not waking me up from the nap I was taking when that call came in. That was Dad’s best friend, and he sat there, stunned and alone in his grief while I slept. That boyfriend was clueless.

A year ago, I got a “this person has moved to this address” and my letter was returned, but I saved the address. I sent another one this year, somewhere up in Wisconsin. I don’t expect to hear back, but if she’s still alive — and her mother lived to 100-something — I want her to know that I think of her still, and fondly.

I got a letter from one of her sons tonight. My letter was received and enjoyed. She’s got dementia, like Dad does, and is living in a facility in Chicagoland, so maybe I will go visit her the next time I go see my Dad, if her son gives me the address.

Sometimes love is in the little things that you aren’t convinced really matter at the time you do them. The little things that would be so easy to skip. Just another holiday letter; I’m not even sure I have the right address. You just do them anyway and hope. Sometimes those letters make it, not to where you sent them, but to where they needed to go. They gave someone a smile, maybe only a brief one, but that’s all you could really expect to do.

Are you ready to sign up for this?

Contrary to my worries, that last interview went smashingly well. I still think there will be some financial issues to discuss, but I think there is a good chance they will get resolved satisfactorily.

I really liked the people. Knowing I do geocaching, someone put GPS coordinates on the schedule sheet, and then question 8 during the Search Committee Panel Interview (that’s supposed to be the scary one; it wasn’t):

Some of your research appears to involve zombies. Would the University be expected to provide you with zombies, and, if so, how much risk is there in housing such creatures locally?

We all had a laugh, and I mentioned that maybe we could persuade the students to get a game of Humans vs. Zombies going. Then we can harvest the data to do some modeling. I did harvest some data from the local game, but I never had time to do any real analysis with it.

But one thing is bothering me tonight. The town. It’s small. 18,000 people. Okay, less than 2 hours from a major city, if the pass is clear, and not too far from a somewhat larger community (100,000).

But here rears my fear of being alone, forever (well, until I die). Look at that ugly head on it. And would I be choosing that for myself if I moved there?

I remind myself that I didn’t exactly date much when I lived in Austin. Maybe I’ve even done more dating in my current smallish town (pop ~120,000-200,000 in the area). The most dating I’ve done is when I was on one of the internet sites, and that was eye-opening. Not in a good way. But definitely eye opening. I’m not at all sure I want to do that again.

I know it is also true that I could move to New York City and spend the rest of my life alone, but this feels like I am asking for it. Am I? Am I just in a funk feeling sorry for myself?

If I’m in a funk, there I am tonight. All I can do is continue with the interviews and get more information about the places. One step at a time, and try to trust that an answer will become clear. It may not be the answer. It may not be a good answer for very long. But it will be an answer, and that is all we get in this world.

Ups and Downs

Another interview tomorrow. This group took me hiking today; that was cool. Someone noted my interest in geocaching and put GPS coordinates along with the building and room numbers on my schedule for tomorrow. That was a nice touch. I laughed out loud. I sent a thank you.

All the photos in this post are from the hike.

* * *

At dinner tonight we were talking about the interview process and who to ask which questions. The first thing that came up was that when I meet with the Dean. That’s the person to ask if I have questions about pay, promotion, etc.. I do have some concerns about this; I think I have qualifications beyond entry level assistant professor. How do they intend to handle this? How do I intend to handle this?

Immediately, I can feel my anxiety level rising.

spiny seedpod

All of a sudden, I am acutely aware of all of the spiky things, and scared I will get hurt.

Breathe, breathe, breathe. (Yes, those breaths were taken that fast!) No right answer. No wrong answer. You get information about who you are dealing with (and they, likewise, get information on me).

With all the oh-so-encouraging information on women and negotiating, this thought is giving me a high stress moment. I want to win at this, but I don’t have a strategy for handling the conversation.

Picture of thin ice.

Negotiating can feel like skating on thin ice.

But. But. One of the secrets to negotiating jiu jitsu is to establish your worth and the benefit to the organization in giving you what you want. Maybe I don’t have to know how I’m going to handle this. At least, not yet. One of my big questions for the Dean — in fact, for everyone — is what could I do that would really make them happy if they hired me for the position? What can I do to knock the ball out of the ballpark in this job?

My first order of business is to find out what that is, and whether this is something I want to and can deliver. My second order of business is to get the offer. My third order of business is to negotiate the package that gets me out to the position that I want to accept.

Birch trees

There are many trees and many facets to this process and negotiation. Don’t lose sight of the forest, which is, ultimately, everyone’s satisfaction.

One step at a time. One step at a time, I can walk around the world. Watch me. But sometimes the secret is in knowing which step to take, and which direction to take it in.

I’ve negotiated in my past life. Sometimes I think I’ve been punished for it. That can definitely happen again. I can’t control what other people do. When I know more about these people, I will be better able to predict what they do. Regardless, I can only control me. Sometimes not even that! And the best job I can, right now, is to find out about this job, this university, this community, and how I would fit into it. What I can do to make it better. How I think I can become better in it.




leaf in a nest of thorns

Even in a nest of thorns, you may find one perfect leaf.