Thursday, May 24, 2012

A five-year-old job market story

Once upon a time, way back in my last year of grad school, I had a campus interview at the American University of Foreign Parts. (Not its real name, obviously.) I don't know what I said or did in the phone interview to luck into a campus visit, apart from mentioning that I had been to a couple of countries that don't quite border Foreign Parts but are in the same general corner of the world, so I guess they figured I was at least halfway serious about the job. Which I was. But anyway, for some reason they paid my way to fly all the way out to Foreign Parts.

It was in the dead of winter and the air was hazy with smoke. I remember rows and rows of communist-era concrete apartment blocks, and old women selling sacks of potatoes and apples out of their cars by the roadside. And brightly colored frescoes in the porticoes of the church across the street from my hotel.

The student guide who showed me around the city asked me if I thought I could live there. I think I said yes, by which I meant I don't know, but I'd like to try.

As you've probably gathered already, I didn't get the chance; the department secretary told me they had an inside candidate, so I figured my odds were not good. It's probably just as well that I didn't, since it was a three-year contract position, so I would have been looking for work two years ago at the height of the job market crash. But I do wonder, now and again, what my life would have looked like if I had gotten the offer.

I think I might make it back to Foreign Parts this summer. (At any rate, I will certainly travel to at least one bordering country -- where I have never been, and always wanted to go; one of the big draws of the job in Foreign Parts was that Other Country was only a train ride away.) So I've been thinking a lot, these last few days, about what almost was, and wondering.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Two things that fall into the general category of mixed blessings

1) Discovering that the edited collection you sent an abstract off to and then forgot about has, in fact, found a publisher. And oh yeah, the deadline to submit the final version of the essay is in six weeks...

2) Learning that the QEP proposal you wrote six months ago has, in fact, won your university's QEP competition, and you are cordially invited (read: obligated) to join the committee that is supposed to figure out how to execute it. (There is, thank God, a small amount of cash involved. Otherwise, I might be inclined to think of this one as an unmixed curse.)

I am not sure whether I should be celebrating or hiding under the bed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Full circle

Wow. Some of the students who were freshmen in my very first freshman comp courses at Misnomer U. have just graduated.

I feel old.