A year or so ago, I was in the frenzy of preparing to move to Nashville. I walked into the Curb Event Center for the Fall Faculty Workshop in general disbelief that any of it (moving, new job) was actually happening.
And this year, I walked into the same event greeting colleagues and… dread is probably too strong, but not looking forward to the day-long events, especially when, of course, I had/have procrastinated course planning & finishing syllabi – classes start on Wednesday, August 21.
But just like that, I was sitting at a table with the same guy who last year told me, “This really is a great place to work,” after the old, grumpy folks (there is NOTHING like old, grumpy academics) had used the majority of our “brainstorming time” to complain. Days ago, there I was, sitting next to someone who was brand new to Belmont. There I was, talking about how things work at my school/place of employment. And there I was, moving on to the next meeting. And the next. And so on.
I’ve jokingly referred to this past year as Year Zero because in many ways, so much of what happened this year has been a blur and a big ol’ mess.1 Like, I still remember distinctly standing in front of my one of my fall music history classes thinking, “Well, this is a disaster….” Yet with a bit more perspective, I can also acknowledge the year was pretty good. Professionally, I am proud of surviving the year and actually doing some things quite well. I had some lovely moments in the classroom, and worked with some amazing students. I started taking carillon lessons!
Socially, I can’t say how much I’ve missed Athens (and all that entails, which is honestly too overwhelming to even begin to list); yet being so close to Kentucky has been the bestest, most wonderful part of this whole thing. I’ve made a few Nashville friends, and have taken advantage of a small part of what the city has to offer.
Weirdest thing? Going back to my condo… MMYYYYY condo… now that it’s basically a hotel for people to complain about and trash. OK, MOST folks don’t do that, really, they don’t, but you know how it’s easy to focus on the negative? Yeah. That. Overall, my condo has been booked via AirBnb pretty much every week or weekend, and financially, I am basically getting close to breaking even. Now I just need to decide if dealing with all that hassle is worth it.
Looking ahead, this fall I’ll be teaching three classes I taught last year, and one class that is new.2 I’m trying very hard to keep my expectations low, but honestly, it HAS to be better than last year. If nothing else, this year I am not relocating and moving my entire life (and all THAT entails). I’m excited to get a second chance to fix those things that didn’t work last year, and I also have a much better sense of my working environment and how Belmont works. I don’t expect that I’ll have much more free time, but I AM hoping to start somehow teaching (pre-college) piano lessons this year.3
I realize how unusual it is to have one’s “dream” job, but I think I’m am close. Yes, I am still contingent (and a few folks have totally reminded me or let me know, not to mention signing the “you are contingent” contract), but for the most part, I feel like a part of the team and that I have some amount of agency and as much job security as I could have. I greatly appreciate how beautiful the campus is, and I believe in the mission and vision of the university and college. And for now, that’s enough.
Finally, if you haven’t come to visit me yet (you, yes you), I’m a little offended.
1. Or dumpster fire. I realize I have not updated the blog since last September. I survived the fall semester and went to GA and KY over the break. In the spring, I went to Austin for SXSW and New Orleans for a conference. I taught Commercial Music History, two sections of Intro to Music History (linked with Understanding the Bible), and World Music. I taught a summer section of Music History.
2. This is four different “preps.” Most semesters, I should have four classes/three preps. The new class is “First Year Seminar” – a course to introduce first-year students to a liberal arts education. At Transy, we called this class “Foundations of Liberal Arts,” colloquial known as FLA (sometime “Flaw” or “F-L-A”).
3. I actually and really miss it. Dealing with pre-college kids would be a nice diversion from dealing with the college kids. Also, the money wouldn’t hurt.