My wife got promoted! I’m extremely proud that her hard work over the last few years is being rewarded. We’ve lived in Oxnard for 6 years. In that time she’s commuted all around San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties. For anyone unfamiliar with California geography, this is the the southern portion of the Central Coast. It’s an area the size of New Jersey (or Massachusetts if you count all of the coastal waters) with a population of over 1.5 million. That’s not a lot of people, but a very significant amount of these counties’ territory is made up by the Los Padres National Forest. The forest is 50% larger than the state of Rhode Island and roughly 20% of the total area of these counties.
We’ll be moving from Ventura County to Orange County. That’s a 50% reduction in size, but a four-fold increase in population. In California, only San Francisco County is more densely populated than OC. This will be the bulk of my wife’s new territory. Technically, she’ll also be dealing a bit with Riverside County, but her new responsibilities mean a lot less time away from the office. That means a lot less driving, which she is excited about because she dislikes driving.
For my part, I’m both nervous and excited about the move. First, the timing isn’t great. (As if it ever is, right?) We’re in the middle of application season for me and the year’s biggest job conference is coming up. Since she’s working full-time, I’ve got the lead on packing up the apartment and its 6 years of accumulated stuff. I’m certainly not complaining–I get to be pretty ruthless about taking things over to the local thrift store–but it sure is exhausting work. We should be settled into Orange just in time for me to head out to Baltimore for the AAR. I’m nervous about packing things away and not being able to find them in time to prepare for the meeting. I’ve got two more weeks to pack and then two weeks to unpack before I leave for the meeting. That’s a tight schedule!
Orange itself is a great place for me to be. While Ventura County has a lot going for it, it is rather short on universities who offer courses on religion. CLU was the closest and that was nearly 40 minutes down the 101 with commuters on their way to LA. In OC there’s Cal St. Fullerton, UC Irvine, Chapman, and a host of community and smaller colleges. Cal St Long Beach and UC Riverside are also within commuting distance. In short, it’s a much better location for me to find adjunct or lecturer work. Even if I am successful on this year’s t-t market this fall, I still want something for the spring and even the early portion of the summer. If I am not successful in this year’s market, I’ll be a lot closer to potential teaching opportunities.
Research-wise, OC is a useful place for me to be headed. It’s the beating heart of California’s conservative Christian territory. The Crystal Cathedral (sadly not what is was 20 years ago for my project) is right down the street from our new apartment. Perhaps I can get the inside scoop on how the Catholic Diocese of OC is transforming Schuller’s church into “Christ Cathedral.” The Crystal Cathedral’s former congregation, now Shepard’s Grove, is even closer to us. There’s a lot more to be said here, so I’ll save that for another post once we’ve transitioned and settled.
Other things have a lot of give and take. We’re 5 easy miles from the beach at the moment. This has made swimming and biking by the ocean simple. You drove along the strawberry fields for a couple miles and there you were. Now, though, there’s no direct route to the ocean, and I’d wager there are upwards of half a million people who live between us and the closest beach. This will make a quick ocean swim a lot harder. On the other hand, OC’s masters swim program is a lot more developed than Ventura’s is. I’ll probably end up a better swimmer for it. Likewise, I’ll be leaving my triathlon teammates and coach behind, but OC has a vibrant cycling and triathlon community.
I’m sure we’ll quickly discover the closest, best Pho restaurant. Garden Grove is full of amazing ethnic cuisine, all of which we are sure to sample. We may relent, too, and buy a season pass for Disneyland or a package of tickets for Ducks or Angels games. We’ll miss the friends we’ve both made over the last few years, but luckily for us we get a soft transition–it’s just a quick ride in the car or by train to get back up the coast. Since the new job is M-F and not Tu-Sa, this means plenty of better opportunities for such adventures. We better get them all in now, because so far none of the t-t jobs have been in the West. If we move again next year, then we’ll be packing things up for a much longer drive than the 90 miles down the 101/5. I guess it is time to seize the California sun while we still can!