The other side of neverJanuary 6, 2007
For years, I was all but convinced that I would never finish this degree, and yet, thanks to the constant support of family and friends (not to mention an advisor who quite miraculously never gave up on me), here I finally am. I won’t lie – it feels pretty damn good, maybe even better than I imagined. Actually, since I defended on December 7th, I’ve been swamped with final revisions, prepping for MLA job interviews, planning winter term classes, and now, preparing for campus job visits. Even so, there is much to be said for finally being able to sleep soundly and wake up NOT immediately overwhelmed by anxiety and panic. For this reason, and especially because Matty and I were able to spend the past few weeks celebrating together with loved ones (without a writing deadline hanging over my head for the first time in over 5 years!), this was by far the most wonderful winter break in memory. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take as many pictures as we would haved liked, but you can check out the few we have on our flickr site.
For now, I am back in Ann Arbor with Stevie, and Matty back in Seoul, newly accompanied by Ling (who apparently was a real trouper on the 24-hour trip to Korea). Our original plans of my waiting out the jobsearch season in Chicagoland, then joining Matty in Korea in early March have been altered, due to the fact that I accepted a post-doctoral teaching position through my department at Michigan. If all goes as planned, I’ll finish out the semester here and hopefully head to Seoul with Stevie in late April or early May. If fate smiles upon me and I am offered a teaching position for next year, we’ll be back in the states in late July; if not (or, in other words, if fate smiles upon Matty ;-)), we’ll stay in Korea for another year.
I promised a few people more detailed MLA / jobsearch updates, so if you are interested, read on. Otherwise, here’s to a 2007 filled with peace, happiness, good health, and prosperity!
MLA 2006 took place in Philadelphia. Neither Matty nor I had ever been to the city of cheesesteaks and brotherly love, and for almost a full week, we got to stay in a swanky downtown hotel, eat out at great restaurants, do the triumphant Rocky Balboa run up the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, and spend a lot of quality time with dear friends whom we now see only once or twice a year. In other words, despite the stress of interviewing, we had a fabulous time.
This year, I sent out well over thirty job applications and ended up with 6 callbacks for interviews: Texas Tech, Lousiana State University, Lawrence University, Williams College, Middlebury College, and Grinnell College. I learned from last year that subjective impressions of how well or badly interviews go are basically useless, and this year’s experience only reinforced this belief. For example, my only non MLA interview was with Texas Tech, who wanted to do a phone interview with me and insisted that it take place just hours after my defense. Needless to say, after having defended, taught class, and drunk way too much champagne at lunch, my mind was not really as sharp as it could have been. I had to conference call for over an hour with 5 faculty members, switching between French and English in response to questions I had not prepared at all. In fact, twice I actually answered “I don’t know what you are exactly asking and don’t want to make up an answer”! I hung up thinking that I had absolutely bombed the interview, but shockingly enough, they called back to invite me out for a campus visit! I’ll be flying out to Lubbock on January 17th and will try to keep an open mind (although I can’t stop thinking of that old Mac Davis line “I thought happiness was Lubbock Texas in my rearview mirror”).
In addition to Texas Tech, I am also grateful to have a late January campus interview with Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. I am very attracted to their commitment to the liberal arts mission, and it would be really wonderful to live close to family and friends again, but I still have somewhat mixed feelings about moving back to WI. Maybe this is because the past few trips to Madison have felt so unsettling to me. I grew up there, and the city should feel like home, but the changing geography and socio-cultural vibe make it feel less and less familiar each time I go back. Or maybe it’s because the idea of starting a tenure-track position in WI means the end to an itinerant lifestyle I’ve come to love and am not yet entirely ready to give up. In any event, there’s not much sense in thinking too much about these things until an actual offer is made.
As for the other schools, my first choice for now is LSU. I never thought Louisana would be appealing to me, but the program and the people who interviewed me seem great. Grinnell, Middlebury, and Williams are all non tenure-track visiting positions, but I would be very happy to accept an offer from any of them, especially Grinnell or Williams. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that calls from any of these schools will come in the next month or so, and that campus interviews go well. In the meantime, Matty is scouting out possibilities for teaching positions for me in Seoul and next year’s MLA is being held, conveniently enough, in Chi-town, so we shall have to wait and see.