for those of you who follow me on social media, you will already know what’s happened, and seen the pictures to go with it! i do love that about travelling in america, there is free wifi in most public places and its far too easy to regale everyone with the minutae of what im doing on the other side of the world, 14 hours in the past.
as most of you know, i am in the US because i went to atlanta georgia for a job interview at the beautiful Emory University
i arrived on the friday night of the same day i left and promptly had two pieces of my hand luggage left at the curb side by the limo driver, which were recovered, but my wallet was stolen. that was all a bit harsh after 24 hours travelling time, but i dont really care about the wallet. i got my laptop, phone and ipad back, and that was the main thing. cards and money are ephemeral, replaceable. but i was worried about my interview clothes which i had taken in on my carry on, just in case. ironic. i got them back though. maybe that whole debacle worked in my favour, i dont know! i was so well taken care of at Emory, and i loved atlanta from the minute we flew over it. gently rolling hills and trees as far as the eye could see. as hot and humid as it was, it was so green and so shady and so much like ‘home’, somehow.
i got a day to rest
and then i was taken out for brunch by three lovely women, lisamarie, maeve, and elizabeth, for my first taste of atlanta hipster and oh the food! fried chicken, pepper biscuits, gravy, waffles, bacon, crab and scrambled eggs, peaches, oh the peaches.
not strong on the coffee though, as in no espresso, but they did bring us a plunger (or french press as they like to call them!). i did finally find a decent coffee right near where i was staying, at a fantastic place called the general muir (this was a cubano and oddly for me, no sugar was required)
and i had another dinner here with sandy and elena, plus dinner at a professors house, which was just great and i met ken and patty and susan and melissa who were all so completely lovely and made me feel so comfortable.
i was so nervous for my meetings and presentation on monday and it was back to back, non stop, but i met some amazing people across the whole university, not just the school of nursing. i got to meet the director of the centre for ethics, the associate dean of the college of arts and sciences, two professors from history, and a whole heap of lovely people in the school of nursing itself, including some great students and amazing support staff. one of whom is a knitter! there was much excitement when i mentioned i was a knitter and people were like ‘oh amandas a knitter and she has a group that meets once a week’ and that made me happy!
i got driven all over atlanta, which was beautiful, and felt really liveable. and emory itself was incredibly impressive, all these beautiful white marble buildings with the red tiled rooves, and the school of nursing itself is something else… small and intimate and so well resourced.
i felt like it went really well, there was one meeting that was too short because i was late from the previous one (not my fault!) and i wasnt sure if i’d impressed the Dean, but i left with a smile on my face, and an assurance that i’d hear something ‘early next week’. i would have to wait till after the 4th of July weekend with everyone being away, so i was very glad to have a most pleasant distraction in the form of a flight up to albany NY where i was met by my favourite americans, W, J and M. we drove across into massachussets, on a road i feel like i know now, and down into the lovely little town of north adams, and back into my little attic room (Ws old bedroom!), and we went to the lake
and picked berries
and went to the lake
and had bbq
and went to the baseball
and fireworks for 4th of july
and we went to the clark institute in williamstown,
which was beatiful in its setting
and host to an amazing exhibit on van gogh and nature. and another day we drove up mt greylock in the mist and rain
which had completely obscured the beautiful hoosic river valley.
we walked a bit of the appalachian trail
as in, as far as we needed to walk to get out of the rain into the hikers lodge and scoff hot chocolate and toasted sandwiches!
i finished what now feels like my yearly pilgrimage to north adams with a farewell visit to the beautiful windsor lake, again
and then i hopped on a train across massachussets to boston.
to cambridge actually, which is where i am right now, in this cute little house
with a nice view from my bedroom
and a blissfully cool roof deck
from here i walk up broadway, or catch the train one stop, up to harvard square, where i get my ice coffee
and maybe stop by the book store
then walk through the gates of radcliffe institute for advanced study
into the beautiful library (the schlesinger)
and spend the day hunched over boxes like this
and have my lunch looking out over the beautiful radcliffe yard.
i am looking at the personal papers of hildegard peplau, one of the post-war psychiatric nurses i am studying. i have read her professional papers over at Penn, and these 43 boxes here at radcliffe contain everything else from a life that has been meticulously recorded and catalogued.
i cant get through it all, obviously, so i have confined myself to a focus on her pre war education in psychology at bennington, her war time work in the psychiatric wards at the 312th field hospital in the uk and then her immediate post war work at teachers college columbia university, all of which set the scene for the publication of her first book ‘interpersonal relations in nursing’. already i have started to fill in the gaps and am working through the argument for the paper and book chapter i had about 3/4 finished before i came. it feels good to be looking for particular things in these boxes and finding them, and to know where they will fit in the story. it makes me realise how much work i’ve already done to get to this point.
of course, by now, if you don’t already know, you’re wondering what happened with the job interview. well, to be brief, i got the job. its the Mellon Faculty Fellow for Nursing and the Humanities, Assistant Professor, Tenure Track, so at least a 6-7 year initial appointment within the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, and then we will see what happens after that. i cant tell you how this feels. i am still a little disbelieving. really? me? they want me? but i also know why they do, and i always knew they would, i always knew this was my job, the way i heard about it, the criteria, how the lead up interviews progressed, what it felt like to be at emory. everything just felt right. from the moment i got there and met people, i knew i wanted it, i knew it was the right thing to do, and i havent had a moments doubt.
the potential work i might do is so exciting. i will be working with the centre for ethics, the centre for the study of human health, and the college of arts and sciences, to develop collaborative teaching and research projects aimed at bringing the humanities into nursing, and bringing nursing out into the broader university community. the vision that they have for this work at emory is so exciting, because as committed as they are to nursing science, they also conceive as nursing as a social science, and my belief that nurses can and should be agents of social change i think really resonated with them. i feel like here i will be able to do the work i believe in with the active support of a school and faculty rather than having to argue with scientists in my home faculty about why history matters, and why it might be useful to address the social determinants of health as much as giving the same people squillions of dollars to keep experimenting on rats.
also, emory has an overt and active commitment to social justice and health disparities, and i felt like this was real, not just the lip service that i am used to in australian universities. people are quick to point the finger at america, and the south, for its obvious social and racist problems, but those people are less than quick to point to the way these play out in australia. glass houses and all that. during my 3 days at emory we had many open and honest conversations about these issues and how i might work with people to develop projects that would address them head on, rather than continue to sideline and marginalise like we do in australia. so its an exciting prospect, to be able to address all these issues in such a supportive environment.
so now i have to get home next week and sort out the visa (emory will sponsor my application for an E3 visa so there shouldnt be too many problems) and organise shipping and a whole heap of stuff, and it kept me awake last night worrying, but i just need to breathe and have faith that it will all work out, just tackle one thing at a time.
it is a strange feeling too to be so excited but at the same time to be sad to be leaving a job i love. i have been very lucky at UOW, i have such great colleagues, have been so well supported, have learnt so much, and i feel a little guilty, as if i am abandoning them! but i have to do it. i dont have any doubts its the right thing to do.
and i have no such qualms about leaving australia. i have no real family ties apart from my sister who is busy with her life in brisbane. i dont get to see her enough now, so i hope we can use this as a chance for new adventures and reasons to visit the US. my parents (who are they again!?) cant be bothered staying in touch, so i cant say im sorry to leave that behind. but i will miss some of my friends, some i will miss very much. and the dogs. i am leaving possum behind because its not fair to bring her all this way when she’s old and i will be unsettled and living in an apartment when she’s used to the open air and the beach and the space. her welfare is more important than my emotional need. and you know, there are plenty of dogs in atlanta that need rescuing.
and i am finding things a lot easier here this time. its only a short trip, and i know i am busy, and also, i am at HARVARD!! but i feel like america is familiar to me now, i understand how things work, the way people talk to or look at each other. and i am reassured by how lovely people in atlanta were, i know i will have good friends in no time.
in some ways, being a knitter is such a huge bonus in that regard. most of my best friends now i have met through knitting, there is something about this weird thing you do with sticks and strings that brings people together. for instance, this morning (its saturday here), nicely enabled by jane, i put my new walking shoes on and headed around the corner and up broadway. i didnt have far to go to find this place:
and inside one of these beautiful yarn stores that the US does so well.
with lots of knitters gathered around a table, and friendly invitations to join, and beautiful yarn to buy. which i did.
followed by a great coffee from right next door
and then i wandered up the road through this park
to the beautiful cambridge public library
where they were kind enough to let me print some pages for free.
i am going on a boat trip tomorrow, from boston harbour out into the ocean and up the coast a little to salem.
i feel the need to get out of the city, boston itself leaves me a bit cold. harvard is pretty but such a tourist trap as well, not like UPenn which is just about the students. its weird to be trying to get to the archives dodging people with maps and cameras! but i can see why. its is soaked in history, and really spectacular to look at.
i’m glad i have another week, and will get more photos of harvard proper and harvard yard, and then when my brain is bursting with information, i will head home to start organising the rest of my life.
who said dreams dont come true? they do, if you work hard enough at them.