May 19, 2008

Knowns and Unknowns

This weekend, a lot of things happened at once. Okay, well maybe two big things. But it seems that they are coming all at once. I've hit the time where it seems that endings and beginnings all mingle and mash together.

First for the beginnings and the knowns. Most reading this will know that I finished my dissertation this May. I actually defended the thing last November, but took some time to address some shortcomings that my committee saw. That pushed back my graduation date until this past weekend. I had waffled on attending, but I finally decided to do it. Eight years, after all, is a long investment and I should get something out of the deal. If that means walking across a stage and getting a diploma and a handshake, then so be it!

Going back to New Orleans was great as usual. We stayed with our friends Kevin and Brenda and the kids. However, it was a little sad. Every time we go back, it was with me as a student of the University of New Orleans. That was at the time the major connection with New Orleans that brought me back time and again. We would also go to Mardi Gras, but that was made possible because I was a student, and didn't have a steady job.

However, as of Friday, May 16th, I am not a student. That connection with New Orleans has been severed. I'm an alumnus of the University of New Orleans. We have friends there, and Mardi Gras will still go on year after year. But something seems changed. Other things will change as well. No more student prices at our local movie theater. I've joined the adults again!

The second big thing to hit was my acceptance of a job. I agreed to a one-year contract with the political science department at Texas Tech University in Lubbock. The opportunity is a great one. I will teach three classes a semester and have time to work on research that will make me a more attractive job candidate for a tenure track position next year. But, taking the position means leaving Megan and staying in Lubbock on weekdays and commuting home on weekends. That is going to be difficult on us, and we have to take care of a few difficult logistics before I start in August, like buying a car (an activity I loathe). It will also possibly put the crimp on going to Mardi Gras (at least for me) in the coming year.

I had to agree to a one-year position because of the apparent shortcomings in my resume. I don't have enough publications that matter, I have been out of the academic environment for four years, and I only taught, heavens forbid, at my own institution. I also am not a specialist in the Middle East (the flavor of the month in political science - it suddenly became important after 9/11). So while I watched all my colleagues get tenure track positions around me, I languished. So, Texas Tech here I come.

If I sound whiny, okay, you're right. I'm iffy on living in Lubbock, especially after living in California, Milwaukee, San Antonio, New Orleans, and Albuquerque. And I'd hoped that I would find a full-time position with a tenure track. Alas, it was not to be. But, a job's a job, and for at least a year we will have two incomes and maybe save up something that will help us buy a house in the future. Perhaps if we are lucky, we'll be able to stay in Albuquerque. I may find academia is not for me, or may find that if teaching is what I want, a community college is acceptable. So there are lots of positives.

It's all endings and beginnings. Here is the vid of the event that led to this musing, if you're interested...

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