Tuesday, December 20, 2005

A dreary day in paradise

So, this is paradise? To hear some of the locals talk, this town couldn't be any more perfect. I recall the advice I got a few years ago, from an older colleague (who had just landed a tenure-track job in Canada). I was trying to decide where to go back to school for my PhD. It came down to a decision between a school in Toronto, and this one in California. He said "you know, grad school is probably the last chance you get to decide where you're going to live." Not that that settled the choice, but it was a factor.

Not that it isn't beautiful here. Some mornings, the view is breathtakingly gorgeous. There is a perfect (albeit brief) view of the islands (if the weather is clear). And it takes your breath away.

But just now, I'm sitting in an otherwise abandoned departmental computer lab, tapping away on my laptop, looking out at the drab grayness. Sure, it's not cold and blustery, at least not snowy cold. But to be honest, I'll take some real dreary weather any day, if only I can land a tenure-track job at the end of the day. For now, I am a post-doctoral "visiting scholar" in a department other than the one I graduated from. A nice title.

And the hospitality of my colleagues is nice. But, they're like cousins I'm staying with for a time, whom I don't really know well. We like each other enough. Yet, we both suspect that this closeness is a short-lived thing. It's like being an independent consultant, only I don't have any clients yet. I'm keeping up on the field (in my case fields), and trying to get some research and writing done. But there is this ever present sense that I'm not really a part of things, just a hanger-on.

Maybe the holidays will give me a good break from the daily worries. And who knows, maybe the calls will start coming in after the new year. Here's hoping.

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