Welcome to Ann Arbor

I thought, perhaps, that I would spend at least part of my time in Ann Arbor writing thoughtful, personalized updates on our fellowship year to my friends and families. Please. I can hardly find my way to the grocery store. And thus, I fall back (again) on this, the cheapest of communications tricks - the blog. Here I will regale you with tales of our move from St. Louis to Ann Arbor for the 2005-2006 academic year, as Chris has been named a Knight-Wallace Fellow. Where to start? I have no idea. It's now Thursday...I think. We arrived late Sunday night and I feel as though we've spent the majority of time running around trying to get ourselves situated. And failing miserably. Nothing is in order. Everything feels chaotic and I find myself naming things and assuming I will be overtaken by a sense of calm when certain specific things are achieved. (For example, when I get enough ice cube trays or when the cats come home from the vets.) This never pans out because, after all, the question becomes "enough ice cube trays for what?" and we could spend all day on that one.

If I sound insane, it's probably because I am. This is the first week of classes and the town is packed with young, thin people. Aren't there any fat college students anymore? (I suppose that question may be addressed by a lecture seminar I'm thinking of taking entitled "gender and eating disorders," apparently inspired by a statistic claiming that a good 80% of female college students suffer from an eating disorder. Of course, I have no idea from whence this stat was sprung, but I sure like a good heavy-handed statistic, so I'm sticking with it. We had to pick our way through the quad to get to the graduate library, where I am tapping into their wireless system. (We have only dial-up at the house we're renting, which seems punishingly archaic.) I can't believe how many students there are here. I think there were more students in the quad than have ever attended my alma mater, Webster University. God bless the tiny lib arts college with its five-person class size and two-to-one teacher to student ratio. I'd have drowned in a place like this.

We've met the Fellows and their Spouses, an impressive lot across the list. Haven't gotten to know anyone enough yet to get a sense of bonds or friendships that may form, but it's an interesting group. Provided I can get this massive chip off my shoulder about being one of The Spouses. Maybe if they'd stop referring to us as, say, The Spouses.

Taking classes hasn't panned out the way I'd hoped for the semester. I'd wanted very much to take a grad level writing workshop, however that's been shot down. I can understand that there's limited room in the workshop and I suppose it only makes sense to save room for MFA students. You know, the paying sort. But I'd also hoped to take a conversational Spanish class and it seems those are pretty packed as it is. It's a far more complicated ordeal than I expected.

I'm trying not to freak out about what I will take and I'm ignoring the fact that it's the first week of classes and just browsing the catalog for lecture classes I may wish to take. Those seem pretty easy to pop in and out of with minimal disturbance to teachers and students alike. There's a senior-level media law class that Chris and I are thinking of taking together, so that we can sit together and scribble love notes on our notebooks when the class gets dull. We're still trying to figure out how to figure out if we can get in or not.

The Fellowship has activities most Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, which are mandatory for Fellows and encouraged for Spouses. Today, we're meeting up with everyone at 4 pm on the steps of the Graduate Library for a tour of the facility! Little do they know I'm already holed up here! I'm so ahead of the game! Wait...what time is it?

Here's the thing, people: academics are complicated, and while Fellows get advisors, spouses don't. So I'm just following Chris' lead, as I often do in life. Sorry. Nearly bust a gut on that one.

On the home front, we have accumulated some usable groceries, at last. I say "at last" because we've been to about eight different grocery stores and it was like moving slightly north reduced our shopping acumen. We kept arriving home with food, but not quite the right sorts to assemble anything resembling a meal. Last night and today we ate probably our first meals at home in four days and it was surprising how much walking through the routine of preparing a meal, washing dishes, wiping counters went a long way towards restoring some semblance of routine.

Like it or not, I will be posting more in the weeks and months to come. Do me a favor, would you, dear family and friends? If you have a moment, help keep the Read Julia forums alive in my absence. Dang, you're the best.