26 April 2008

Looking Forward

I've just returned from a week in New Hampshire, which is why things have been quiet around these here parts.

Most of my friends know at this point, but I think it's safe to make the news public now: I will be moving back to New Hampshire at the end of June. The reasons are many. Even before my father's death in December, I knew I was not particularly happy teaching at the school where I've been teaching this year -- it's not a bad school by any means, but I lack the classroom management skills to be as effective a teacher there as I would like to be. After my father's death it became clear that settling his estate was going to be a long and involved process, and so I began to toy with the idea of moving back to New Hampshire, though I really would like a few more years of easy access to Manhattan... But the more work I, my family members, my friends, my lawyer and accountant, etc. did trying to put some order to all of what my father left behind, the more I realized I just couldn't remain so far away, even if I had wanted to stay at my current job, or I'd be dealing with all the various details of the estate for the next decade. (One day I'll be able to be less vague about all this. For now I'll just say that if I wrote the story of my life as a novel, nobody would publish it, because they would say it was unrealistic and unbelievable.)

Though I am somewhat disappointed to be leaving the NYC area, there are lots of good things about my upcoming move. The result that will be most apparent here, I hope, is that I will finally have more time to read and write. Not a vast amount more than I have had before, but certainly more than I have right now as I try to teach five different classes.

Another good thing is that I will, for the first time, have the opportunity to teach some college classes. I'll be an adjunct teacher at Plymouth State University, a place I know quite well, since my mother has worked there all of my life, and the library there was a lifeline for me as a kid.

The classes I'll be teaching are both part of the university's general education program, which means most of my students will be in their first or second year of college. One course, "The Outsider" is a kind of intro to lit class that is also supposed to use some film (and thus be interdisciplinary). The challenge designing a syllabus for it has been narrowing down the material, since almost anything can fit. The other course is "The F-Word: Feminism in the United States" and it is the core course for the Women's Studies minor. I got recruited for it when another teacher suddenly wasn't able to teach it and the course might have been cancelled for the fall if I didn't take it on. At first I was terrified, because though I have a good background in queer theory, etc., I don't have a more than general knowledge of much feminist writing since about the mid-'90s. But this is my chance to catch up, to fill in some gaps, and to think about ways to encourage students to do the sort of self-exploration and societal exploration I hope to do myself as I design and teach the course (with help and input from the professor who first created it at the university).

My return will be a homecoming in the most literal sense -- I'll be living in the house I grew up in, a building I have not spent much time in since I was eighteen. I'll be teaching at the college where I worked my first lowly summer jobs. I'll be sorting through the materials my father cared so much about, the items he built his life around, and that I have seldom been better than indifferent to. I expect the next year to be deeply strange, but also, I hope, healing. We shall see.

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