Sunday, May 11, 2008

Details, graduation, other stuff...

-- The rain stopped just long enough for graduation (and has now picked up again, in time to remind me to stay home because papers and final exams don't grade themselves). I knew only half a dozen or so of the graduating seniors, since most of my students here have been underclasspeople, but it was nice to have a bit of ceremony to provide a closing parenthesis to my year here. Opening Convocation (yesterday, a million years ago) was one of those "wow, I'm actually faculty now" moments for me, and this was another one; I still get a kick out of wearing the robes, even though I got the cheap off-the-rack ones and I envy the people who have floofy tams and colorful stripes.

-- So, the new place: It is a small public university in the South, with a pretty, historic campus and some interesting quirks; as such, it feels like my natural habitat, although it is definitely farther South than anywhere I've lived before. 4-4 load, small classes, a few more upper-level Ren lit courses on the books than there are at New SLAC; also, they have a real medievalist, so I don't have to be the Brit Lit to 1800 person. So all in all, it's got many of the traits I like about my current job, while it may be a better fit in the long run than New SLAC could ever be. It will be known here as Misnomer U., partly because it makes both "New SLAC" and "Last Chance Saloon" into misnomers, partly for a reason that is unbloggable because it would identify the place, but trust me, the nickname is apt.

-- The new town looks pleasant enough, from what I saw of it; it is significantly bigger than New SLAC Town (there are very few places smaller than New SLAC Town) but still quite walkable. It is, however, very much in the middle of nowhere -- the closest New City-sized places are two to three hours away -- and there seems to be, literally, no public transportation at all. This is not good news for those of us who hate and fear driving, but I guess I'll have to get used to it, and at least I have a car that isn't falling apart.

-- I've turned down or cancelled three interviews for one-year positions. I felt a bit iffy about this, since I don't yet have a written contract in hand, and one of them was a campus interview for what would have been a dream job if it were only tenure-track -- but I'm exhausted and burnt out from this whole process, and I just did not need that extra level of stress on finals week, and the folks at Dream SLAC needed to make a hire on a tight timeline with limited interview slots, so it was definitely the ethical thing to do. At least I have the ego boost of knowing that Dream SLAC thought I was campus-visit-worthy.

-- I was going to do a post about what I learned from my three years on the job market, but the more I think about it, I'm not sure I've learned that much at all. Only this: I returned, and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all. And yet those accidents of time and chance determine the shape of the entire story when you tell it afterward, and in time you forget about them and think: I deserved this or It was meant to happen this way.

I keep wondering about the two other people who took PhD exams in Renaissance lit with me. I hope they've found something; they deserve it, and it's because of them that I'm all too aware that I had an unfair advantage at this game by virtue of being healthy, single, and debt-free. And so it goes. I suppose everyone has their share of unfair advantages and disadvantages, and by and large they balance each other. But I hope those two people made it through.


What Now? said...

Congrats again on the new job -- very exciting. And thanks also for your Ecclesiastes quotation, of which I sometimes need to be reminded.

Renaissance Girl said...

This is wonderful news. Can't wait to hear more about the new digs.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Thanks, What Now? and RG.