Monday, March 15, 2010

And when they're only halfway up, they're neither up nor down

Why did the grand old Duke of York march his men up and down the hill in that song, anyway? I forget; I'm sure I was told at one point. I keep thinking about this and leaving academia --- not that I'm up or down, but that I'm kinda stuck, neither in or out of it. And it's so easy to get sucked right back in.

Today I ran into a grad student who I haven't seen in quite a while. He --- let's call him Grizzly Adams, as he's got that hipster aesthetic that seems part 19th century mountain man and part crazy homeless dude --- updated me with some details on his life and asked what I had been up to since the beginning of job season. Since I was getting out some library books for editing my accepted article (learn from me, children! Double, nay, triple-check all of your references before mailing off an article and returning all the books! Especially if you haven't referenced something that may potentially need to be referenced!), I told him about that and he was suitably praise-filled and impressed.

That felt good. I'm always willing to revel in my accomplishments. And it has been long enough that I can talk about a sucky job market run without being upset about it, so I didn't need his condolences. And, really, if you're a youngster grad student and haven't become jaded by all the financial difficulties and soul-crushing job market attempts, what I've accomplished last year is pretty impressive.

So, of course Grizzly said something along the lines of "ooh, I bet you'll be positioned to look really good on the next year's job market," and instantly I was back in it --- oh yeah, next year will be my year! I will accomplish Great and Wonderful Things and truly dazzle the search committees and they will be fighting over my greatness! Truly I only need some sort of part time, stop-gap job to pay rent until I ascend into the heavens of tenure-track employment!

Yeah. Hmm. Then I remembered that Grizzly hasn't been through any job market stuff (just like he hasn't been through publishing stuff, which is why my feats sound so impressive) and he has no clue what it feels like to go through this crap for multiple years on end, barely scraping enough by to break even, and sometimes not even that (when it comes to paying for the actual job search stuff). And of course he's not graduated and facing down loan repayment.

So I said something noncommittal and asked about how his writing was coming along, and we had a very lovely "inside baseball" talk about the authors we love and the scuttlebutt about the scholars publishing on them (Grizzly Adams has always had a keen eye for who is the steward of who's papers, who edits the review and who is the big name in the field and all that --- and he keeps a running list in the back of his mind of who's screwing who and who has other types of scandalous pasts; it's quite entertaining, really). And I love that and I'm going to miss it, but I'm going to continue applying out for my new career, whatever that is.

(Note to the last few search committees: if you want to hire me, I won't complain! I'm just not waiting around for it.)

So, in sum, I'm actually in a pretty good mood. Of course, the beautiful weather and the lunch at in-n-out may be part of the reason for that, but, if a chocolate shake and burger with grilled onions is a workable alternative to therapy and medication, then so be it.


Phul Devi said...

Yay for beautiful weather, good moods, published articles, and feeling more sanguine.
I can't summon up as much personal enthusiasm for the burger, but if it floats yer boat, then I'm glad.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I get it. Every time I feel ready to let go of the game, there seems to be something that will pull me right back in it. I tell myself that I only had one "real" job market season because the first time I was ABD. The second time was my "real" season. This season, I couldn't go to MLA because I had a baby. Next year could be my year! AND the conference is in driving distance (kind of) and it's in January, not JUST after Christmas! But then, yeah... the reality is that there are 5000 other people thinking the same thing. And I don't have anything to add to my CV for next year, and likely will not be motivated to write an article to put out for consideration. So... whatever. I still have applications out, but in some ways it just feels like I'm fulfilling some obligatory life hazing before I have enough "character" to figure out what I'm "really" supposed to do with my life. Blerg.

yolio said...

I love this:

" just feels like I'm fulfilling some obligatory life hazing before I have enough "character" to figure out what I'm "really" supposed to do with my life."