here’s to new beginnings

I need to update my site. I’m no longer a PhD candidate. In case you haven’t heard, I successfully defended my dissertation, have my PhD, and am an assistant professor in the English Department at Frostburg State University (FSU) in Frostburg Maryland.

I’ve moved to Maryland, from Minnesota, where I had arrived at from Arizona five years ago. I’ve made my way across the country to live, for the first time since I was a toddler, in the eastern time zone. A new beginning. A new home. A new life.

And I’m starting a new job. I’m still teaching technical communication, but at a new school with new demographics and new ways of being. New students. New colleagues. New office.

I’ve decided to treat this new year as a reflective one. I want to experience, understand, and appreciate the changes that are happening in my life. I’ve made a commitment to be reflective on this blog. I will be reflecting on my teaching (but not on the students — their participation in my classes is for the classes, not public consumption), on my service, and on my professional development — except where it pertains to research. I have a separate area in which I am reflecting on my research because I’ve made a pact with others to build a research agenda this year and to keep to it — and one of the parts of that is a blog devoted specifically to research (which will be private until I choose to integrate it with this one some time in the future).

In my first attempt to get back to writing in public, I am reflecting on the day I had today. Classes haven’t started, but new faculty orientation occurred today. The more I’m *here* (really here, present, and engaged) in Frostburg and with the other people from FSU, I realize what a good move this was for me. I’m surrounded by smart, dedicated, giving people. I’ve been greeted (genuinely greeted) by people from many departments around the university, welcoming me and inviting me into their community. Today I sat with an English department (that’s so odd to write since I’m used to being in a Writing Studies department and explaining the differences between the two) colleague throughout the orientation. I was thankful he sat next to me. I had someone that I knew, even if only slightly, to chat with. It was comforting and helpful. I was a bit overwhelmed by all of the people there because I didn’t know anyone, and I’m not hugely comfortable around groups of people I don’t know (even if people say that I don’t act that way, I *feel* that way inside).

Anyway, it was interesting to hear a “state of the university” talk(s) given by the President, the Provost, and various others. It was enlightening to know where our university stands within the region, state, and culture, to understand the students and where they come from, to see how our expertises fit in within the community, and to know that community, here, includes the university and the surrounding cities.

I sat at lunch with other new faculty and the Provost. We talked about the weather (it does snow here — yay!), the 1998 tornado, the fire sirens that sound like tornado warnings to my midwestern-acclimated ears, and where others live within the community. It was a comfortable discussion with no pressure, but with interesting bits of information thrown in by the geography professor who teaches meteorology, the communications professor who talked about the cold winds in South Dakota, and the nursing professor who discussed public health informatics.

After all of this, I headed back to my office (!!!) to leave my orientation takeaways behind and I met up with some of my English department colleagues. As I was leaving, and was next to the elevator, still engaged in conversation, one of my colleagues made a joke about how they are all gathering around to talk to me. I won’t be new soon, but I hope we all still gather to talk. I like them, and they are interesting people who share some of the same passions I have.

I think I’m going to be happy here. I couldn’t have asked for a better place to land.

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