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2006-04-24 - 6:08 p.m.

three easy pieces

I am still struggling with this paper that is now overdue, but I am dangerously close to having it completed. It has evolved into a 23-page single-spaced monster complete with 6 figures. I'm still not so happy with it...but I'm also not disgusted by it. Writing is truly a painful process - I find that I have to provide myself with a deadline: I have to finish this by 3pm or else. Then and only then can I force the words out. And even if the words are not elegant at first, they at least have been squeezed out of my body onto a page where I can look at them again later - modify them - shape them into something logical - or delete them..Anyway, I keep filling in the smaller blanks and hopefully by tomorrow evening I will be prepared to mail out a finished draft.


Today we had a faculty meeting at which the full faculty learned that I am leaving the department. The meeting was actually extremely intense, involving a confrontation between two faculty members. Sparks flew. On the one hand, it was terribly unpleasant, and it may have created a large, permanent rift in the department. On the other hand, there was something refreshing about seeing this particular argument come out in the open. The point is that I like both of the faculty members involved, and I hope that there is not a necessity for taking 'sides.' Then again, it's a little bit difficult to realize that I'll be gone in 2-3 months anyway, so it isn't really my problem.


This evening K and I got a telephone call from a dear friend from Jena. Talking with her was a breath of fresh air, reminding me of something I miss from my former days there. I don't just pick up the phone and call people anymore - probably something to do with this Brave New World of email and ICQ. But it was just so nice to hear her voice and to think of the next time we will see her.

We were both talking about how much we missed living in Jena. I mentioned how Jena was highlighted in the February 9th issue of the Economist. Everyone I know who has left this town has told me in some way how "Jena was something different." This article was rather enlightening because it explained that Jena boasts the highest density of engineers, scientists, and academics in all of Germany. This may explain how I could feel such a communality with so many people from a foreign country. She and I both missed it.

But then she said something that was beautifully profound to me. She recently returned for a visit, and even cried when she first entered the city. But it only took a few days to realize that the Jena that she knew had departed with all of her friends. What she missed was not Jena, but the sense of feeling so very much at home.

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