A catching up post for the first weekend of fall

Is it actually the first weekend of fall? Ehm… no. Did I at least manage to land on the first day of October? Also no! However… we’re all just doing the best we can here, and the first two weeks of teaching back in person completely clobbered me, to say the least. In fact, the last several months and the entire summer kind of clobbered me. So. I’m naming this the first weekend of fall for me personally, and hoping for good things from it. First, though, let’s catch up! Things that have happened in the past two weeks include:

The first day of school! At my new job! It was a whirlwind of three 2-hour classes, with all the jazz-hands-y, energy-sapping performing that entails, interspersed with meeting people, learning how to use all the various classroom projection systems, running and driving all around a new town (I’m teaching in departments that are spread around the old city center rather than on the campus. Pros: it’s really pretty and fairly walkable once I’m there. Cons: no nearby free parking.) By the end of the day, I had a blazing headache. Not sure if it was the pressure of being plunged back into in-person interactions in such an intense way (first classes of a new course are always a bit intense because first impressions, etc. etc.), driving around looking for street parking with my shoulders all hunched up (I mean, do you know anyone who looks for parking in a new city with relaxed shoulders?), and otherwise striding through the city carrying a tote bag containing all my stuff (and so with my shoulders still hunched up but now unevenly). It was probably all of those. Anyway. Unfortunately, it was the first of three headaches that first week. Sigh.

Semi-related: I didn’t get the job after my first Italian concorso experience. I don’t think I’ve even mentioned this on here. Settle in, if you feel like it. Do you know what a concorso is? Likely not, unless you or someone you know also lives here. It’s how they hire people for state positions here (so, including public universities). Basically, they publish a whole long list of requirements and rules (a bando); you submit a ridiculous quantity of paperwork (example: for me, a list of every single course I’ve ever taught, including the level and number of hours; I’ve only been teaching just over 10 years but it was still a ridiculously irritating process); everyone who qualifies for the next stage does a written test; everyone who passes that does an oral test; and then they rank everyone who passed all the stages and hire off the list. (Apparently they also keep the ranking list for later hiring, so you can be called to take a position, like, literal years after you applied for it. Like, surprise! How weird would that be?)

Anyway. This concorso was started in the middle of Covid at the university where I’d been working freelance for several years. I did the paperwork and the whole thing already annoyed the crap out of me. Then began the fun part: they don’t tell you the dates of the written or oral exams in advance, and they are only required to give you two weeks’ notice. And this was during the stringent post-travel quarantine and rapidly-changing rules era of summer and fall 2020. Things that happened as a result of trying to plan around this concorso (the date for the written exam was scheduled and cancelled three different times): I shortened my first precious, long-awaited during-Covid visit home to my parents in the US by half for fear of getting caught in a quarantine problem; I almost didn’t attend my beloved grandmother’s 100th birthday (!!!) for fear of the same; I cancelled what would have been a profitable, interesting, and personally satisfying business trip (to Rome for a whole week! how fun would that have been?!) for one of the published dates that was cancelled mere days after I’d cancelled the business trip. Okay, I need to spend another moment on this: it makes me feel a bit vomit-y to think about the amount of time I spent stressing about whether to leave in the middle of the afternoon on my grandmother’s birthday, for example. Imagine if I had?! And for nothing! That scheduled exam date also ended up being cancelled. Okay. Note to self: I am clearly not over that disgruntlement yet.

Anyway. So, this whole nonsense phase went on for literally over a year. In the meantime I did another, much more efficient concorso at a different university. I was hired barely over a month (!!) after they had originally posted the position/bando (ha! ha!) on a one-year contract. Everyone told me that if I later won the first concorso, I could quit the second university and go back to work for the first. This was (and is) technically true… until it turned out that they had scheduled the oral exam of the original concorso mere days before the semester was scheduled to begin. By which time I already had a schedule and an office at the new university. I called the director of the language center at the first university to express my discomfort with this situation: what did she expect me to do at this point – quit my new position the day before the semester started to come back to work for her? Spoiler alert: yes; apparently she saw no problems with that eventuality. The phone call sort of deteriorated from there and, exceedingly long story (slightly) short(er), I placed last on the ranking list. Caveat: I also studied zero minutes for either of the exams, so… it’s totally probable that I merely sucked and that ill will had nothing to do with it. Anyway. I am now firmly ensconced at the new university and honestly enjoying the change, so all’s well that ends well. (Except that I’m still decidedly salty about how much mental energy I wasted worrying about this for the past eighteen months. And the missed family time.) Okay. After that delightful digression on byzantine Italian hiring procedures… moving on.

I am not pregnant: notable only because we hadn’t been together in August, when I was home visiting my parents, and then in September we were together, and on vacation (sort of), and used those Clearblue pee sticks meticulously… and it still didn’t work. (Come to think of it, this may also have contributed to those three headaches back-to-back headaches last week.) I have officially reached the stage of this journey where I feel resentful of people’s accidental pregnancy stories. And envious of people’s happy pregancy stories. Well. Nothing we can do but try again, I guess. And make another gyno appointment, maybe. I’m finding it very hard to find the right balance between ‘just relax, it’ll happen when it happens’ and ‘I’m 35, this is a problem that needs to be solved immediately’. Sigh. Okay. Plan time: they said it would be better to have an appointment right after I’m supposed to ovulate so that they can check that I did. It’s too late to do that for this month. However. The second I get my period, or maybe even before then (?), I’m making an appointment for next month. Bam. Going to write it right in my planner as soon as I’m finished writing this. Moving on.

House update: our couch arrived! It is super comfy, both in terms of squishiness and softness. The color is beautiful. The color also doesn’t go super great in our living room, maybe. Despite the hours of agonizing over color! I think this was basically bound to happen, though: I suspect our living room needs a bold punch of color and it would have been good if it had been the couch, but neither of us are bold punch of color type people. The good news is… you can buy a complete second set of covering material (upholstery? I don’t know) for an eminently reasonable price and the whole thing is removeable and machine-washable, so… I feel like we have our safe, calm, gray color, and now we can go bold. Problem solved. Also this is a good lesson: don’t spend a million hours agonizing over something that has an easy backup solution. I spent all that time panicking that the couch would arrive and I wouldn’t love the color in the room (it’s really hard to imagine a whole couch-sized blob of color in your room from a swatch that they won’t even let you take home to look at in said room!) and now that is exactly what has happened and it’s totally not a big deal. So. Relax, self.

Approaching social normalcy? I attended a retirement gathering for a friend last week, and have gone out with a best friend for coffee twice. All of those were outdoors, but still. It felt nice and normal. Can’t escape a feeling of needing to gird ourselves for what the colder months will bring, though.

Okay. No other updates come to mind. So… onwards and upwards! The only way out is up! What? I don’t even know. I do want to make a list of things that are making me happy this fine morning, though, and so here we go!

Things that are making me happy this morning:

  • I got enough sleep (this probably accounts for, like, 90% of the happiness)
  • It’s a lovely sunny day out and it holds the promise of a lovely walk after I get some work done
  • I now have keys to an office at work (never mind that I nearly got kicked out by a fiesty German teacher the first time I went in there – I didn’t have a badge yet so she took me for a student. To be honest, it was flattering, if a smidge embarassing for both of us. Ha.)
  • I like my three classes so far and I think at least two of the three like me well enough, too. As much as they’re going to, anyway. The dynamic in class is pleasant so far, is what I’m saying. The third class is a bit more reticent. Definitely going to have to work a bit harder there. Anyway.
  • I purchased a new nice and moderately professional looking backpack to carry my laptop to work in. Drastic reduction in shoulder and neck pain between the first and second weeks of carrying everything around at work. Hooray! I have high hopes for the insoles I ordered for my flats, too – I don’t want to give in and start wearing sneakers to work quite yet (I’m kind of halfway enjoying trying to look nice-ish?) but also I end up doing about 5 miles a day at work, and it’s really not ideal in flats. Anyway. I’m inordinately pleased about the addition of this backpack to my life.
  • This one is even sillier: we ran out of hand soap in the bathroom yesterday and so I was able to open my fall-themed Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap exactly on October 1st. How satisfying is that? Now the acorn spice scent makes me smile every time I wash my hands. (What on earth is acorn spice? I know not, but it’s very pleasant and a nice change from ye olde default choice, which is Palmolive honey and whatever.)

Invisible internet friends, this post is already ridiculously long, but I still feel the need to include a list of things I hope to get done this weekend, for motivation. Here goes!

My grand plans for this fine (fake) first weekend of fall!

  • Clean the house! Specifically, the shower and bathroom sink need some good scrubbing. Damn calcare. (What even is calcare? Google translate says limestone. What. Really? Anyway, apparently that’s what the gross buildup you always get in this region is.)
  • Make peanut-butter energy balls (or whatever the recipe was called – I think I found it over at The Frugal Girl… and hopefully bookmarked it!) for breakfast for the week
  • Invoice three different companies. Weeee spreadsheets! Also, I do invoicing while listening to the Best Laid Plans podcast and I love it.
  • Update course websites for all three courses. Yikes.
  • Lesson plans for the week. Also yikes.
  • Send people some much-owed texts
  • Take a walk
  • Bake an apple cake for a friend?
  • Cut my nails (do you ever put off cutting or filing your nails because it’s just too much effort and you can’t find the time and then it really annoys the shit out of you and it would really only take ten minutes but you still haven’t done it? If not… well… good for you.)
  • Do a face mask and moisturize and feel all spa-y
  • Update my one-sentence/five-year journal, which is… missing the entire month of September. Ha.

Okay. On that ambitious note… a wonderful weekend to all!

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