A long weekend in New Job City

Jun 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

I'd first like to make clear that the similarities between "New Job City"--the perhaps thinly-veiled pseud for my future place of residence and employment--and New Jack City, the critically acclaimed 1991 Wesley Snipes crime drama, have not escaped me. I have faith, however, that my lovely readers (that's you!) are astute enough to discern the subtle distinctions between the misadventures of an almost professor in a pleasant college town, and the gritty tale of a drug lord in 1980s NYC.

J and I returned last Wednesday night from an extra-long Memorial Day weekend in NJC, and all in all we had a lovely time. New Job put us up at a swanky hotel that had just opened its rooftop pool, and so we were able to get in some quality lounging time in between apartment hunting appointments and general exploring. And eating. HOLY HELL, did we stuff our faces for five days. Thank you, NJC, for this nice new food baby I'm carrying around. It's squishy.

This was our first extended-stay trip to NJC, and I do have to give props to its cleanliness, and to how nice people were, and to the surprisingly good beer selection that almost every restaurant we went to had. J is way into the Belgians these days, and we were happy to see that we could get some really lovely ones almost anywhere. At one point, I saw a unicorn in the foam on the side of my glass, which I feel like has to be a good omen!

Goal number one of this trip was to find an apartment, which we did, and then we didn't. I'd been hoping that apartment hunting in NJC would not be as supremely soul-crushing and horrid as it is in New York, but this was not to be the case. Apartments are maybe slightly less expensive, but not to the point where we were skipping down the street all sing-songy, "We're going to live in a PA-LACE, and we're going to pay no MON-EY!," plus NJC has its own set of real estate issues, like the fact that they don't really "do" Aug 1 lease starts. Gah.

The bigger problem, as I've discussed before, is J's job situation. Should we be looking for an apartment that requires two incomes to pay the rent, or one? Though we found a totally beautiful apartment within walking distance of New Job Campus, we decided it would be a little scary if I were signing over 3/4 of my salary for an indeterminate amount of time. So we let it go. Bye, beautiful apartment!

Goal number two of the weekend was for J to kick ass on an interview, which he totally did! He's been invited back for a second, although it seems that we still won't know one way or another until after we need to have found a place, which is frustrating. But encouraging!

Goal number three of the weekend was for me to meet with the architects at New Job University to feng shui the shit out of my new lab. After many, many discussions over the past few months on where each lab bench should go, how big to make knee cut-outs, and whether I want cabinets or shelves on the walls (both!), it was finally time for the fun stuff!

It has pretty much always been my dream to be surrounded by fabric swatches, carpet samples, and furniture catalogs, with a green light to let the interior designing princess in me free. Can you picture this? I think you can. I had an absolute ball working out a color scheme for the lab, which you can see below.


Very important to create a lab that highlights one's footwear. Mostly white for the floor tiles, with blue & green accents. The gray swatch is the lab stool fabric!

Now, here is something fascinating/awesome. The architects offered, in all sincerity, to put the chemical structure of a molecule of my choosing into the floor design. I am thinking about this, but in the end, probably not. The molecule that would make the most sense with respect to my research is a little too complex given the shape of the floor, and nothing else I study really singularly defines me, you know? It would feel disingenuous.

I also (are you even still reading? I told you this was a juicy post) met with my faculty mentor, and we had a great chat about the future of the department, which he seems to be actively trying to get me involved with. Already I am going to be on the next faculty search committee! I am SO looking forward to seeing things from the other side, I have to say.

And I REALLY can't wait until they start building my lab! Fret not, lovely readers, there will be pictures. I've got some great "befores" that are just waiting for their "afters."

13 responses so far

  • DrugMonkey says:

    "nice". No wai. I will never, ever in a million years believe NJC is full of "nice" people.

  • Dr 27 says:

    Sweet!! Sounds so awesome. I'm so very happy for you. Can't wait to see more ... I have this thing where I love house reno shows and could watch tons of them all day long, so I can't wait to see what's in store for DrBecca's spanking-new-and-awesome lab (trademarked, ha! j/k). Congrats on the new space. It's also good to see that J's getting a call back. Fingers crossed.

  • AK says:

    A place you can afford on one salary means you can't get in over your head and J has time to find work.

    And when J finds work, you have extra money or find a new place.

  • Dr. O says:

    Fingers crossed for J's second interview!!!! And I'm loving the lab renovation story. Seriously? A chemical structure worked into the flooring? That's badASS! Even if you don't take 'em up on it, the ability to get into the design of your new lab like this is just so cool. 🙂 This job, overall sounds like such a great fit and environment for you!!

    • Dr Becca says:

      Yes! I totally feel like if they're willing to customize the floor for me, it means they want me to be in this for the long haul, not just a "let's see if she can hack it and then not give her tenure" kind of situation. It's pretty much a promise ring, when you think about it.

  • Dr. Koshary says:

    Exciting! One question and one comment for you:

    Is it normal for each half of a married couple to earmark 3/4 of a salary for rent? I don't like to pay more than a quarter of my salary on rent, if I can help it at all. I would have guessed that fellow academics think along similar lines, and so perhaps each spouse could go for half of their monthly salary, give or take some based on large salary differentials, etc. Even if your husband quickly lands a good job in NJC, wouldn't it be ludicrous to wager 3/4 of your take-home on the rent? Did you think seriously about this, or was it more a house-hunting fantasy? (Can you tell I'm gearing up for my own hunt soon?)

    On a totally different note, I have now confirmed that this blog entry is the first and only result in a Google search for "feng shui the shit out of my new lab." Awesome.

    • Dr Becca says:

      No, no, Dr K! What I meant was that if I paid for a 2-income level apartment on my own , then it would cost me 3/4 of my salary, which is way too much, and the reason we had to walk away from the beautiful apartment. Traditionally, I think you're supposed to spend around 1/3 of your salary on rent, but here in NY I'm spending a little over 1/2. Since I'll have a grown-up salary in NJC, I'm hoping to get it back down towards the 1/3 mark, but NJC is pretty pricey. We're going back next weekend, and will be looking to drop at least $1000 from the price. *sob*

  • Yeah, seriously. "Nice"?

  • Dr. Cynicism says:

    Sounds like they're giving you the royal treatment - eat it up!! Best of luck on J's front too!

  • Alethea says:

    My advice: If you're getting chairs with arms, make sure all bench/desk cutouts are big enough that the chairs AND the arms will fit under!

    When we last moved labs, this was not the case, and we grad students semi-dismantled the benches in order to be able to push our chairs in. I'm sure this has compromised structural stability, but at least I'm not miles away from my desk and computer when I'm sitting down.

    Getting this much input on lab space sounds like a dream. My lab moved last summer (to a new space at the same institution), and it was a nightmare. Nothing was done right, or on time, some thing just didn't get done until had moved in and begged and pleaded for months.

  • Claudia says:

    "Already I am going to be on the next faculty search committee! " Free advice (so it may be worth what you paid for it), a faculty search committee may be fine, but the next big hurdle in your life is the tenure clock. (Sorry, I jumped into your blog in the middle, I will be back, but in the meantime, if this doesn't apply...see first part of sentence above.) Your new department is very happy to have New Blood, er, a new member, to help out with admin responsibilities and commitments. YOUR job is to say 'NO'. Repeat after me, from the diaphragm now: 'NO!'. Your first years are vital and you can't afford to devote too much time to admin/community responsibilities that won't help you (not that much) get tenured. If you're not convinced, just remember that it's much easier to say 'no' and come back with a yes, than to realize your grant and paper writing and project-moving-forward time is jeopardized and have to back out.

    I don't mean to rant, but this was the advice given to me by a 3-year 'new faculty' hire. I hope none of it is a problem for you.

    Best of luck,
    Not quite there yet.
    Best of luck!

Leave a Reply