who is this person and what has she done with phd me

World Traveler texted me today towards the end of the work day to see if I wanted to meet for a drink.  I was finishing up things on campus; he had about an hour before another work commitment.  I had planned to go to the gym when I headed home but WT and I do not have compatible schedules this week, so today was pretty much the only day we’d come close to seeing each other.

I chose the gym. That’s right, people: I CHOSE THE GYM.

Now, that could be a commentary on WT, that while I have enjoyed our dates immensely, I’m not seeing him as a prominent fixture in my life.  That is true, actually, but I would like to see him again and I knew that brief window was likely the only option this week.  However, I also knew that I wasn’t driving directly to the gym right after having a drink.  I’d need to go home first, eat dinner and digest that before I went back out to the gym, by which point it would be later than I wanted it to be and I’d be neck-deep in reviewing chapters for my book.

Commitment to self won out.  I’m on week four of this, and I’ve made it to the treadmill three times each of those weeks. Today’s routine required me to run for two five minute stretches – and I did it.  I didn’t like it but I liked that I could do it, even if I did want to fall out afterward.

Instead, I walked out of the gym and went straight to the swings in the nearby playground.  I don’t care what people think, seeing someone my age on a swing; it’s both reward and therapy, and I like it.

I also like that I’m making myself do this.  I really hope I can keep it up this semester, because it certainly won’t get easier – not the physical effort, the schedule or the distractions.

twas the night before classes

And I’m sitting in front of my computer.

I’ve been here all day, except for a brief foray to the salon – because I’ve discovered a previously unknown affinity for having my nails polished – and dinner with my girlfriends – because we have resumed our weekly Monday gatherings with the start of the semester.

What have I accomplished, you ask?  Well!  I reviewed two chapters for my edited books, one of which needed some serious revision; drafted a reading list for a grad student’s independent study on educational theory and social justice; revised the latest version of an article I’m working on with the same grad student; set up my course Blackboard site; drafted the lesson for tomorrow’s class; read the article I assigned for tomorrow’s class; dealt with a student issue that required writing a letter to certain parties; and kept up with incoming emails.

Yeah.  It’s going to be a long semester.

I did not get to the gym, however.  I wanted to go but I think I’m supposed to do this running thing every other day and I don’t want to push my luck.  I’m pretty stiff today and relatively sore but not in a pained way (although I can feel the shin splints bubbling up).  I tried to get up and walk around the house, do various stretches, bounce on my toes while eating my lunch over the sink – but I really should have gone for a walk.  I meant to…but the sun went down while I was working.  I have my gym clothes packed for tomorrow, however, and I’ll go when I leave campus.

So, here’s to starting the semester off at a run, literally and figuratively!

things I’ve learned: beginning of the semester

I will never be ready.

Even though I know it’s coming every year – even though I’ve been doing this long enough to know what to expect – even though I can clearly see the impending date on my calendar: I am never ready for the semester.  That transition between summer and semester is always brutal, always dizzying, always chaotic.  And I am never ready.

I will complete my syllabi at the last minute.

I may be thinking about my classes – scribbled ideas down through most of the summer, actually – but the thoughts don’t become concrete until the week before.  I suspect, even if I were to start working on them in June, I’d still be revising the week before classes start.  I fiddle; I revise; I change my mind; I switch readings; I alter assignments.  Basically, I’m not satisfied until time is up and I have to get them copied for class.  So, maybe it’s better that I wait until they have to be done rather than working on them for twice as long.

A week of meetings before classes start is rude.

Seriously, that does not get anyone off to a good start.  After a summer away, it’s somewhat nice to see people again but I don’t need to see them all at once.  More importantly, I don’t need the immersive shock of service work after weeks without it.  Next year, I need to make much more of an effort to avoid as many meetings as possible.  Everyone will be happier for it!

not my best day 

Sigh. Some days I just get up on the wrong side of the bed. Unfortunately I also weary emotions on my sleeve. These are not good qualities to combine, I’m afraid. 

I felt like crap today but it took me a while to realize it’s because of the womanly joy. My cycle is still off from the tamoxifen so it still takes me by surprise. There’s the general yuck but my back is what bothers me most. It just aches across my pelvis and contributes to a pretty bad mood. 

Of course today was our faculty retreat, when I’m hormonally nuts and forced to interact with people for no useful outcome.   I could best be described as hell on wheels. Granted, my snarkiness can be very entertaining but I can hear the bitchiness in my tone. I hate it, but somehow I don’t have the ability to shut it off. If perimenopause is this awful, I’ll need a padded cell when I hit actual menopause. 

Evidently irritability is somewhat helpful on the treadmill. I did okay on my workout today – not that it was easy but I didn’t feel like death when I finished. I definitely need to get some new shoes, however, and a few more pieces of athletic clothing if I’m doing this on a regular basis. 

My best choice of the day might have been going to a late movie tonight. I figured action stars blowing up shit sort of encapsulated my day. I did make me feel better. I appreciated the views of London, too. 

There was a bit of good news this evening: The Professor wants to know if I’m interested in getting together again. The answer, of course, is affirmative!

the fun comes to an end

Although classes don’t start until next week, my semester starts tomorrow.  My calendar is full of meetings this week, starting with a faculty retreat tomorrow afternoon (gah), so I get to work around those as I finish my syllabi, manage some administrative duties and deal with the rising tide of emails.

Starting back is always a mixture of expectation and dread.  I like my job, so I am glad to get back to campus, believe it or not. The transition from summer is just so painful, though.  Even though I’ve been fairly busy with different projects these last few months, it hasn’t been as frantic as I know the semester will be.

The busy-ness of my dating life is coming to an end, as well.  I’ve met everyone on the line-up (if you will) so now it’s just a matter of seeing who sticks around.  Given recent communication (or lack thereof), I’m fairly certain that I’ll be returning to my regularly scheduled single life pretty soon.  To wit:

The Gentleman professes interest but doesn’t make much of an effort to make plans.  We have a lovely time when we’re together but the lack of initiative speaks a little louder in the long run.  I’m going to sit back and see what happens next but I’m fairly certain he’ll simply slip away.

Elsewhere and I have plans this coming weekend.  We had another fun conversation this evening, and he seems genuinely pleased that we’ll see each other soon.  The distance doesn’t make for an actual relationship, I fear, but I’m willing to see.

World Traveler had a bit of a hiccup this weekend (see: interacting with a lady of interest after having way too much to drink) and is currently apologizing for his ungentlemanly behavior. I appreciate that he feels the need, so it seems polite to let him offer a few mea culpas.  He wanted to see me today to – as he said – give me a kiss, look me in the eye and offer his apologies in person, but I was actually working on something so I had to decline.  We’ll see what comes next.

The Professor and I met last night for dinner in a nearby city.  I literally laughed for the entire two and a half hours. We share a similar dry sense of humor; we have things in common that allowed for some fun conversation; he actually asked me questions and reacted to my responses.  It was a really fun evening.  I have no clue, however, as to whether it will be repeated.  He definitely enjoyed himself but I couldn’t tell if he was interested in me beyond a pleasant encounter.  So, this one is another wait and see.

Basically, I’m waiting a lot!  I’m more than willing to reach out, up to a point, but after that, it really is up to the guy; I’m not going to chase anyone who isn’t actually interested.  If nothing else, I’ve proven that I can do this; it didn’t kill me to try online dating and I’ve had some fun in the process.  With the semester starting now, I won’t have time to spend evaluating it all, so I’m glad I had the chance to enjoy the excitement and attention of it all for a few weeks.

now, this was nice 

My evening with World Traveler was lovely.  It didn’t start particularly auspiciously, since he was a tad early and I was still in my bathrobe. To my credit, it was a very pretty robe but it did throw me. I was quick, however, and we were soon out the door. 

We had a bit of a drive to dinner, which meant pleasant conversation for about an hour. He took me to a great restaurant: casual but in a pretty location with a patio. The sunset was just gorgeous over the water; the food was delicious; we talked continuously, with some lighthearted flirting. The drive back was pleasant, as was the conversation over a nightcap before he left. Somehow I ended up where I started: in my robe… He gets up ridiculously early for work and he is going to be ridiculously tired tomorrow but we had such a nice evening, from the conversation to the wine to the laughter. The ending was rather unexpected; I knew he was interested but I wasn’t perhaps expecting my return response. Surprise! 

It’s the small things, isn’t it? He opened my door and stood when I left and returned to the table. He had tic-tacs in his car, something I always carry. He complimented my dress without being heavy handed. He made me laugh out loud several times. He leaned forward when I talked. 

And he doesn’t want a serious relationship any more than I do. Somehow we found ourselves talking about how we ended up online and we had the same response: companionship. He had a lengthy marriage, has been single for some time and wants someone to share aspects of life without the focus on being together forever. I couldn’t agree more. So wherever this may or may not go, it’s in a lovely space right now. 

Such a life I lead… And tomorrow, back to the gym for another training session.  I’m expecting it to be painful. But worth it. 

I don’t even believe my life at this point

If I’d had a time machine twenty years ago and had jumped forward to see what was happening at this point in my life, I would not have recognized myself. I may look like the same person but I am most decidedly not.

This is all just weird.

The semester is just around the corner, so yesterday and today meant quality time with my computer.  There’s nothing particularly strange about that; what’s odd is the recognition that I’m a professional adult. I know what I’m doing (even if I don’t always do it well) and others know it, too, and that is becoming increasingly evident.  In just the last week, I’ve gotten two requests to review tenure and promotion materials for assistant professors, one request to write a letter for a tenure packet, one query from a potential grad student who’d like to work with me and multiple emails from higher-ups in my departments asking me for information or input.  All of that isn’t necessarily strange; people need things and they’re asking me for it.  The strange part is that I’m taking it in stride; I don’t feel under-qualified, just over-utilized.  What is that all about?

I started running this week.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Running.  Not away from something but on a treadmill.  Me Because life is weird.  I came back from Home State and something clicked in my head: I think I can do this.  So I downloaded a couch-to-5K app and started a few days ago.  I’m not going to say that I’ll succeed, and it’s okay if I don’t.  The point is that I’m trying to do it and I’m actually hopeful that it will stick.  There is definitely a feeling of accomplishment when I get through a session – granted, only 3 of them so far – and even that is a huge step. Me, exercising, because I almost like it? What is this?

I got on the scale today: 143 pounds; I can’t even remember the last time I saw that number.  I didn’t finish my dinner at the restaurant tonight because it was too much darn food, so I have half a plate of food in my fridge right now. I can look in the mirror now and appreciate what I see; it’s not perfect, by any means, but I look pretty damn good for my age.  My closet has clothes that not only look nice but make me feel good when I put them on; I wore one of my new dresses with a pair of flats tonight and I felt fabulous.  Where did this confidence come from?

And the dating? Holy crap.  I don’t even know what the hell is going on at this point.  Follow this: I had coffee with a New Guy 1 Friday afternoon; coffee with NG2 on Sunday and drinks later that evening with NG1; dinner with NG3 last night and talked to Elsewhere and NG1 on the phone; dinner with The Gentleman tonight; drinks tomorrow with NG4 and meeting up with The Gentleman later in the evening; dinner with NG1 on Thursday.  I have plans with Elsewhere next weekend and I’m making plans with NG5 for some time in the next week.  This is ridiculous!

I’m not really complaining, of course; I find it all highly entertaining.  It’s amazing how perspective changes when you aren’t invested in finding the one right guy!  Why didn’t I know this twenty years ago?  I could have saved myself a hell of a lot of grief.  And the dating stories are providing some great fodder for my FB feed.  There was Junior, who talked incessantly about himself; IT Guy, who cancelled at the last minute Friday and hasn’t contacted me since; the guy yesterday who launched into a politically conservative diatribe as soon as I sat down.

I shouldn’t just share the awfulness, though, because I’m meeting some nice guys.

The Gentleman is very deserving of his name (well…in public anyway: hee hee).  I had wondered if he was distancing himself; no, just very busy and rather overwhelmed by it all (note to self: men cannot multitask).  He picked me up tonight (in a convertible, no less!), opened my car door, and took me to dinner; we talked without pause the entire time; he brought me home and we relaxed on the sofa for a bit until he left (a little later than he intended).

Elsewhere is great; it’s a shame he is, indeed, elsewhere because we really enjoy our conversations – we both made the comment last night that it’s just fun to talk to each other.  We have plans to get together next weekend and we talked about getting tickets to a future event.  So, whether we’re seeing each other regularly or not, we enjoy each other’s company enough to plan future meetings.

NG1 – now known as World Traveler – is a very interesting person.  As his name suggests, he has traveled extensively for his job; he’s knowledgable about movies, music, books, politics, history; he asks questions and genuinely wants to hear the answers.  Conversation is amazingly easy, actually.  He’s a bit older but, perhaps more importantly, his children are grown and he’s long divorced; that just makes certain things easier.  I’m curious to see how our date on Thursday goes; he certainly seems quite interested.

The Professor is the person I’m very interested in meeting at the moment.  Our conversations so far have been quite fun; we have quite a few things in common (such as going to grad school at the same institution); and he’s obviously in the same profession, just a different university.  He may not live up to the hype, of course, but if he does, look out.

So, this is dating.  How strange!  Men are actually interested in me, at least at the moment.  Where the hell were they over the last nine years?  I can’t help but wonder if the fact that I’m not interested in anything serious is playing a role in all this.  I don’t want a husband; I want companionship without any expectation of a future.  Because – all kidding aside – I can’t imagine any man is going to be able to breach the walls around my heart.  Interestingly enough, it’s easier to be the outgoing, flirty, funny girl across the table when part of you is dead to it all.