- the lines, that is, of the notebook in which I've dutifully taken notes of department chair's business all year. These scrawls are the very end of the notes from the last SAS chairs' meeting - and contain the promise, threat, or warning that each department will have to produce a Snapshot of its activity, its workloads, its support structures. Running under, if not between the lines of today's meeting were the words budget cuts, budget cuts, budget cuts - with all of us in limbo, knowing that bad things are likely to hit, but not knowing where, or when, or of what magnitude.
That last sentence sounds rather like a description of Los Angeles earthquake anxiety, and may therefore have crept in subliminally. For these are almost certainly the last chairs' meeting notes that I'll take as chair. A number of blog readers, of course, even if they haven't known directly what Alice and I are up to, have read between the lines of this blog and come to their own (correct) conclusions. And this raises a whole lot of questions - and has raised them for weeks - about what's bloggable - let alone photographable - material or not (ah, those not 100% recognizable views - except to the cognoscenti - of downtown LA): about how private one's on line musings can ever be, and about who constitutes one's audience. For yes, USC want Alice back, and they've lured me there to take up a position - starting in the summer of 2011 - jointly in English and Art History, which is quite explicitly and designedly an invitation to be interdisciplinary in the stuff that I do - which couldn't be better. But we swayed every which way before making up our minds, right up to signing - which isn't to say that we weren't leaning westwards, increasingly, but certain factors determined the final capitulation. And no, those aren't for public consumption (though in some of their manifestations they were quite public enough, thank you...). And even then, I wasn't going to jump up and down in cyberspace explaining things - not until I'd told my grad students, anyway. And I wasn't going to say anything to them until they'd finished paper writing. And - as was the case when I left Oxford, in 2001, leaving them is the hardest part of thinking about going. And yet, as I found, they were the people with whom I was most constantly in touch, right through their dissertation writing and (successful) job seeking - so I know that those transitions are very workable.
But one thing that I've really learned through all this is that a blog - this one, anyway - is a million light years away from a journal. On some of the most fraught and angst ridden days - that's when I've needed flowers, or a shaft of sunlight, or one of Highland Park's odder windows. Indeed, I've found it curiously and atypically hard to do journal writing - perhaps because there's been so much talking involved. But for those perspicacious readers who thought that there was something fishy and obscurantist going on - yes, there was, and now it's been let out of the lines that caged it.