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2004-03-20 - 2:32 p.m.

a glum weekend

It is Saturday afternoon, I am sitting at my kitchen table in my newly organized apartment pondering what work to do next. The weather has gone from snowy misery to beautiful cold crisp blue skies and sun. My parents said their last goodbye this morning - they visited me last week to help me clear up the apartment and intended to leave, but a change of plans brought them back to my doorstep for two more nights. It was a pleasure to have them here once again. Yet of course I am also glad to have time back to myself.

And so my life continues. In some ways I continue to see things improve. I am mastering teaching, and reaching the point where I am describing really fun things like how monsoons and how cyclones form. I am getting through my grant proposals and forging new relationships with new faculty members. My apartment has turned into a beautiful relaxing oasis.

But on the other hand, I feel like my stress level remains at a constantly high level. If I spend any time away from my work, I feel that I am falling behind. Yesterday while my parents were visiting, we went for a 90-minute walk around the center of Forest Hills just after lunchtime. Instead of feeling relieved the walk made me feel like I had to cancel all plans for today so that I could catch up. Given that I see my parents all of twice per year, this is not healthy. I have heard that new faculty members go through a terrible time of feeling alone, feeling overwhelmed, feeling stressed. Now I know what it feels like. In spite of the occasional elation I feel when I get my students to understand a difficult concept, I feel each day that I am falling a few more steps behind my previous research life.

Overall I guess that I am lucky, because in spite of the dubious beginnings, I appear to have landed in an excellent department. It is full of sympathetic faculty members, and I rarely if ever feel that sense of being all alone and isolated. Yet, I do feel the constant pressure to keep performing in spite of an overwhelming desire to sleep or just goof off for the next two weeks.

There is also, of course, the sense that I have entered a social desert. I sort of thought that joining the choral society would help this out a little bit..but I didn't realize that I would be sitting among people who do not wish to socialize outside of their existing circles (many don't even say hello), and furthermore that I would so foreign to them. I feel like I have nothing in common with them.

I won't even begin to talk about the absence of a romantic life. I suppose I should drag myself out to some kind of event...but what and where? and more importantly, with whom?? I'm in a city of 10,000,000 people and yet it feels vaguely like no one is here.

depressingly yours,


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