Thursday, February 24, 2011


I am exhausted.  No, I'm bone tired, as my grandmother used to say.  My day started at 8:30 with I have no idea how many meetings.  I met with everyone of any importance at SLAC.  I liked most everyone, but I'm not sure we would be happy here.  Even if the CU offer weren't a consideration, I'm not sure this is the place for us, for a whole variety of reasons.  I'll write more once I've processed it all and have slept, which I will go do now.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My life would be much simpler . . .

if I didn't like these SLAC people, much simpler.  But given the wonderful evening I just spent with the chair of the English department, I think that simple may be out the window.  She is lovely, and if we were to meet at a cocktail party, we'd be fast friends, I know.  Tomorrow my day is crazy.  I start at 8:30 and go until 5:45, and then I have dinner with the search committee.  I teach a class, and I give an informal presentation on my research.  I think I will be fine--exhausted, but fine.  I'll write more tomorrow night if I don't collapse as soon as I get to the hotel.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thanks Mom and Dad

With a great deal of apprehension, I called my parents late last week and told them about the good news we received from CU.  My parents don't really get the world of academia, and they struggle with us being so far away, my mom especially.  So I didn't tell them right away because I wanted some time with the news before they (potentially) said something that upset me.

I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised.  My dad was enthusiastic and congratulatory, but as usual, he passed the phone to my mom very quickly.  She was really, really excited, even tearing up a little bit when she told me how happy she is for us and how proud she is of me.  She asked a lot of questions about teaching load, TAs, grad classes, and office space--stuff I had no idea she really knew about.  I mean, I've told her about all of these things, and she has been here for 2 weeks during the fall for the last 2 years.  I think those visits gave her some understanding of how time consuming the job search has been, how my time to focus on my own projects is limited by all the prep and grading I do, and how much I want my own office.  She did ask if I'll be making more money, and when I said yes, she asked, "Does that mean you'll be able to come for visits more often?"  To which I also said yes.  I know that is important to her, but I really appreciated that she waited until after she asked all the other questions to ask this particular question.  I ended the conversation really happy that I told them rather than wait.

Archer also shared the news with Yetta and Pita.  I will say that they offered me congratulations.  Yetta's only questions, however, focused on whether Archer and I will continue to go on the job market every year to get positions closer to Home State.  Oh well, at least my parents were happy for us.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Um, yes, that really happened

I'm exhausted.  Bear is getting over his third bout of strep throat since the first of the year.  Last night was the first night since last Friday that he slept through the night, and for Bear, that means going to bed at 7:30 and waking up at 5 or 5:30.  This morning he wanted to hang out with me so much that he woke up at 4:45.  I tried to get him back to sleep, but no luck.  So I made coffee, he ate some cereal, and we hung out on the couch looking at books.  Well, ok, he looked at books while I tried to stay awake. 

At some point, Bear climbed into my lap, gave me a big sloppy kiss, and said "Mama."  I started crying.  He was very puzzled, of course.  It was as if in that moment everything that has transpired this past week started to sink in.  I quickly stopped crying, and Bear and I continued with our morning.  When Archer came downstairs about 45 minutes later, he could tell that I was upset, so he asked if I was okay.  I said, "That meeting on Tuesday.  Did that really happen?"  He hugged me and assured me it did.  I think this is going to take some time to sink in.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Good news

Yesterday's meeting was good.*  It was, in fact, as J predicted "all good."  CU is offering me a one-year term appointment, which is equivalent to a visiting position in the States.  The following academic year the position will most likely convert to a tenure-track position.  The dean used the phrase most likely, but when pressed, he said that he has already written the position into the budget and that he is 99% certain it will convert without an issue.  He also explained why the process has taken so long. 

First, as I said in the previous post, he is new to this position having taken it over from the previous dean who was all but fired.  It seems the previous dean was essentially living in Crazy Town (I've heard this from more than one person, although the current dean didn't say anything like that at all) and refusing to take the matter seriously despite Dr. English and Dr. Writing pursuing this option for almost 2 years.  Second, the current dean wanted to arrange the position so that he didn't have to run a search.  Because CU is unionized, every position must be advertised, even positions that are understood to be earmarked for specific individuals.  While the term appointment doesn't have to be advertised, the tenure-track position would have to be advertised, so the dean go the permission from the Union to convert the position (provided the funds are still available) without advertising.  This means I don't have to worry about interviewing.  The job is mine. 

There are still some details to iron out, but it will be a joint appointment between writing and English.  I should have all the details in the next two weeks, as well as a contract.  He asked about our interviews, and I was honest.  I said I have an on-campus that I have committed to going to.  Archer told him his initial interviews went well.  Archer also said that if this offer had been made two weeks ago that he may not have gone to the initial interviews, and I said I certainly wouldn't have accepted this on-campus.  The dean apologized for the delay.  Given that he's only been in the position since Dec. 31st, all of this has moved at lightning speed, for academia at least, and Archer and I are both aware of that. 

So where does that leave us now?  Last night I was seriously considering pulling out of the interview.  I mean, it seems really unlikely that SLAC is going to be able to offer anything comparable to this in terms of partner placement.  If I do get an offer and SLAC is able to offer Archer something, the pay will be substantially less, and we'll be teaching more.  That isn't such an issue for me, but it is an issue for Archer.  In every way, it would be a huge step down for him.  But I talked to Dr. Writing today for her advice, and she said, "Go on the interview and get the job.  Yes, it's a risk for us, especially given the school's location, but it also gives Dr. English and me more leverage.  You can be assured we will go back to the dean and argue that the position should be offered as tenure-track now."  I really like this woman.  She has gone to bat for me (and essentially my entire family) a lot.  I know that there is something in it for her (she point blank told me today that she sees me as instrumental in a new major that she and Dr. English are trying to develop b/w the two departments), but she still has gone above and beyond for me.

As for the other schools and the possibility that we could get offers elsewhere, Archer and I talked about this a lot last night, too much in fact.  Here is where I stand.
  • For me, the "Ivy" is off the table except as a bargaining tool.  This school will not offer me anything given my research profile (in a lot of ways, I'm freaking lucky that CU has offered me this position).  As attractive as "Ivy" is (and for me, the location is extremely attractive as it is the same city that our best friends live in), I don't want to give up what I have at CU to start all over again.  Archer agrees.  If he's offered an on-campus, he'll go, but if he's offered the job, he would likely use it as a bargaining tool for him and his department.  And we both realize that he may feel very, very different if he actually gets an offer.
  • The SLAC is also unlikely.  We spent a lot of time looking at the website today, and while it has some really great programs, it is very small.  Archer would be giving up a lot--research funding and graduate students, to name a few.  I wouldn't have graduate students either, but as I've never had graduate students, that isn't as much of an issue for me.  The location is really attractive.  It's equal distance from my extended family and our families in Home State.  It is close to several of our good friends as well.  I'm going to the interview with an open mind b/c if I fall in love and they can come offer Archer something I do think we'd consider it--especially as, even though we'd be taking a big pay cut, the cost of living is so much lower.  That said, it is primarily attractive for personal reasons, not professional ones.
  • PS, the private school close to Home State, is still an option.  Archer should know by Monday or Tuesday whether he gets an on-campus, and if he gets a job offer, this is a school we'll have to seriously consider.  The pay scale is comparable to CU's, and there is a fair amount of research money.  Archer wouldn't have graduate students, but I would.  It is also in a phenomenal location in terms of friends and family as well as in a key location for both of us to do a whole lot of archival work. 
But for now, I'm feeling really happy.  If nothing else happens, we know we will be in CU Land.  And I can live with that.  In fact, that makes me really happy.  As I wrote yesterday, CU Land feels more like home every day.  I think being happy professionally will go a long way to alleviate the loneliness I experience from time to time.  I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my shoulders.   I know how impossible it can be for an academic couple to find work at the same university, especially given this economic climate.  Even if I suck up my interview next week and Archer hears nothing from the two schools he interviewed with, we have the security we've been working for.  I also have a job as an Assistant Professor--with my own office as of July 1st!!  That is pretty damn awesome.

*I'm sorry that I didn't post this yesterday for those of you following my career drama.  Bear is getting over strep, and he was a bit of a bear last night, no pun intended.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This morning I found my student evaluations back from the summer courses I taught in my mailbox.  They are high, my friends.  They are embarrassingly high.  My average score for the Women's Studies course I taught was 6.8 out of 7 points, and the average for the American lit course I taught was 6.6.  The director of Women's Studies stopped me and told me that my average is a full point higher than the department average.  I received similar scores for the writing courses I taught in 2009 and 2010.  And the comments were great too.  One of my lit students wrote, "If she isn't a tenure track faculty member, you need to make her one NOW!" Here's hoping the powers at be at CU are listening!


Archer and I meet with the Dean at 2:30.  We ran into J, the faculty retention officer, while dropping the boys off*.  Archer asked her if she had any advice for us in light of the meeting.  She said, "It is all good.  Even for the long term, it is all good."  So we more or less know what the Dean is going to tell us, but still, I'm nervous.  Really nervous.  As in the meeting is in 5 hours and my stomach is in knots nervous.  As in I wasn't this nervous immediately preceding my interviews at MLA. As in I feel like I might vomit nervous.  Why am I so nervous?  Sometime in the middle of the night I realized that in spite of all the tension, in spite of all the loneliness, and in spite of all the uncertainty, CU Land has started to feel like home, maybe even more like home than Southwest College Town.  I mean, consider:
  • Bear was born here.  
  • We've lived in our house for almost 3 years.  Aside from our second apartment in Southwest College Town, this is the longest we've lived in a single home since we've been married.  And this is our home.  We own it and have made major changes to it.
  • Wild Man has no memory of any other location--CU Land in general and our house in particular means home for him.
  • Wild Man started school here.
I used to think that leaving here wouldn't be that hard, but now I realize that leaving here would be very, very hard. 

*On a side note, Wild Man loves J.  Every time he sees her he tells J's daughter, "Your mommy is so pretty."  And then he gives J a really long hug.

Monday, February 14, 2011

In other news . . .

My sister is out of the hospital.  With the help of a really great doctor, she seems to have resolved her medication issues and has found a combination of meds that really works for her (this has been an issue since she was diagnosed with bi-polar 2 years ago).  I'm very proud of her for all the hard work she has done and continues to do to manage this illness.


Tomorrow Archer and I meet with the dean of our faculty to get the much talked about clarification.  Archer is optimistic as he has worked with the dean (this is a newly appointed dean who replaced the previous dean who was all but fired by CU, making for a very scandalous December at CU) in other capacities.  Archer likes him as he believes this dean to be a "straight shooter" (yes, that is a direct quote from my lovely husband).  Me, I'm skeptical.  I've never met this man, and I feel like I've been jerked around a bit what with every one in the university talking about me rather than to me.  So we'll see what we see.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Curiouser and curiouser

Archer got home yesterday afternoon.  He thinks the interviews went well, although he said the interview with the "Ivy" league school was the hardest interview he's ever had.  That is saying something given that Archer has had a lot of initial interviews and a fair amount of on-campus interviews as well.  Apparently a lot of the questions were hypothetical, and not the "if you could teach any course what would it be?" hypothetical.  One of the questions was something along the lines of "You have a Ph.D. student who is selecting a topic, and you want to encourage the student to explore an area that hasn't been addressed.  How do you convince the student to take on that topic?"

He has no idea what will come of either interview, but I think he is likely to get an on-campus interview with the school that is closer to Home State.  I'll call that school PS for private school.  It is a mid-size private liberal arts school.  As I said earlier, I have a good friend who teaches there, so we've been able to get a lot of inside information.  In fact, this friend, B, (I know, my pseudonyms are lame, but whatever) sent Archer all kinds of information about PS that Archer would have had a hard time finding on his own.  B was also able to answer a lot of Archer's questions about PS, making Archer look really informed at the interview.  PS also has a history of partner placement, so that makes me hopeful.

As for the "Ivy,"  I'm not sure what to think.  An offer from this school is a game changer.  I honestly don't know what it would mean for us as a couple or us as a family.  As for me, there is no way I'd get any kind of offer from this school, and more to the point, I have no desire to work at an "Ivy."  My reasons for this are primarily connected to the kind of family life I want to have, but I also have no desire to devote my life to research in that way.  "Ivy" is in a location that has a lot of other schools, so there is a strong possibility I could find work elsewhere.  I would, however, end up adjuncting for a while with no guarantee that I'd ever get a tenure track job.

And Archer and I now have a meeting with the dean of our faculty at CU to get some more clarification on my position.  It's all getting very curious, indeed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

It's getting weird . . .

on the job front.  I mean really, really weird. Here's are some updates.
  • Archer is attending his field's major conference this week, and he has two interviews.  Both are with good schools, and one is an "Ivy" and one is a 4-hour drive from our families (which, depending on the day, is reason enough to take or run screaming from any offer).
  • I have an on-campus interview in the next few weeks.  This is at SLAC in the states, about a 7 hour drive from our families (that distance is less likely to make me run screaming in the opposite direction).  This is a second interview for me, and I'm really interested in this job.
  • There is talk that I may be offered something more long-term at CU.  Dr. English and Dr. Writing have been working on something for a long time, but I don't know much more than that.  I've kept them informed on my job search--I even let them know that I have an on-campus interview in the next few weeks.  They've been incredibly cryptic, however.  When I told Dr. Writing about my interview, she said, "Thank you for letting me know.  Dr. English and I are in the middle of something.  I wish I could tell you more."  Dr.  English said, "As I've said before and will continue to say, I hope you stay at CU."  Um, ok, what does that mean?*
  • I've become friends with the faculty retention officer--her daughter is in Wild Man's kindergarten class--and I've been talking to her a lot about this stuff.  She seems to know something, and I can tell that she wants to tell me.  But she can't.  
  • I want this settled.  I really do.  Every day without knowing something I feel like this gets more complicated.  Archer and I attended an open house for a school we're seriously considering enrolling Wild Man for Senior Kindergarten.  We want to visit one more school before we make a decision.  But part of me thinks we're just wasting our time.  We may not even be here.  We may have to research schools in a completely different place.  Then I had a horrifying thought this morning in the shower.  What if we move back to the states, and the school district we're in doesn't let Wild Man enroll in kindergarten because of his birthday?**  Furthermore, the thought of finding another daycare for Bear makes me sick to my stomach.  Yes, I'm worrying about everything now.  
  • It is getting weird, frustrating, and crazy.
* I started writing this post yesterday, and I have some clarification on what this means.  I'm not comfortable blogging about it yet though.  I will say that clarification is good, but it also made things more complicated.
**The age cut-off in our province is drastically different than most areas in the States.  For Wild Man to be in Senior Kindergarten next year, he has to be 5 by December 31, 2011.  Typically in the states, to enroll in kindergarten, a child has to be 5 by September 30.  Wild Man's birthday is mid-October.  I'm concerned that if we move to the states he won't be allowed to attend kindergarten for another year.  That would not be a good thing.

    Sunday, February 06, 2011

    Brown-eyed Girl

    I talk to my niece last night for a while.  She asked me lots of questions about college (she's 16) and about what courses she should take during her senior year.  I got the sense that she just wanted an adult to talk to, and since her mom, who is usually good at that sort of thing, has been dealing with her illness for the past few weeks, she hasn't had anyone to talk to.  She also asked if Archer and I could take her to visit some colleges during her spring break.  She is assuming that her mom won't be up to it.  I told her we would work something out.

    She is such a great kid that I want to take care of her--as is Brown-eyed Boy, her younger brother.  But I don't want to overstep my boundaries as their aunt.  I tried to reassure her last night that Archer and I are always here for her, no matter what, no questions asked.  But I reminded her that we have to check with her mom before we make any definite plans about touring colleges without her.  I always thought being an aunt was supposed to be easy.

    Saturday, February 05, 2011

    It is snowing . . .

    again.  Really, I'm done with winter.

    Friday, February 04, 2011

    Random Updates

    A lot is going on right now (as usual, right), and here are some updates.
    • The article I submitted last week has already been rejected.  Disheartening, yes.  Altogether unexpected, no.  The reader's report was helpful, and I think I can fix it.  It seems I'm not making it clear what I'm adding to the conversation.  So my argument isn't effective.  The reader said some very complimentary things about my writing, which is helpful.  I've asked a good friend to read the article.  At this point I'm too close to know what needs to be changed.  I trust this person a lot, so I'm trying to stay positive.
    • Archer now has two interview lined up for his field's major conference.  One of the schools is driving distance from Home State, the other is a member of the Ivy League.  Not sure how I feel about either of those things.
    • In reference to my cryptic post earlier this week, my sister, who has bi-polar, has suffered a major depressive episode, complicated by a change in medication.  After much consultation, I finally convinced her she needed someone there to help her.  My mom will get there tomorrow evening and will be there for a week.  She has also voluntarily checked herself into the hospital today, which I think is for the best.  I've been talking to my niece every day, and I think she and my nephew are doing ok.  It's hard to say though.  Brown-eyed girl's tendency is to be tough.  I considered going there all week, but when my mom stepped up, I decided not to go.  Now I'm feeling guilty about that decision.
    • I just received an email from the undergrad chair of one of the departments I teach for.  They want to modify an existing course to have it act as a pre-req for a special topics course I taught last fall--the first time such a course had ever been taught at CU.  The undergrad chair wants me to write the course description for the course.  What does this mean?  Is this good news, or just news?
    • I need a cocktail--in fact, I need several.

    Thursday, February 03, 2011

    I'm finding it . . .

    really hard not to be discouraged professionally right now.  That's all I have to say about that.