Wednesday, December 26, 2007

life (sentence) in the snide field

First, a little background. I started this blog around a year ago, posted two or three entries, and then (like most of the more than ten million people with blog accounts) forgot completely about it. Not that I didn't have excuses. I have two small children, for example (and, no, I don't understand how other people with small children find time to write blog entries; I tell myself that they all have high-priced nannies). And my job, as a full-time English instructor at Hawtch-Hawtch Community College (hereafter HHCC) keeps me very busy, at least in academic terms. Furthermore, I try to remain active in my scholarly field, though, like most community college faculty, I have had to lower my research and publishing expectations significantly. So blogging took a back seat. Far, far in the back.

But then this fall, I made what seemed at the time to be a momentous decision. I decided to go on the job market. Well, kinda on the job market. Okay, okay, I applied for exactly one job. It seemed like the perfect job, though. Tailor-made for a guy like me. It's like they had me in mind when they wrote the job ad. True, I got a little nervous when I started reading other people's blogs that talked about jobs that seemed tailor-made for them, and it's not like I was unaware of the realities of the academic job market. Still, I was hopeful. It was a pretty good year for jobs in my field (medieval English literature), and maybe I'd get lucky.

The short version of the story is that I didn't get lucky. My qualifications, I was told, did not meet the department's "current needs." But here's the interesting bit (and the bit that may be harder to believe): a few weeks before I received that rejection letter, I had decided that I didn't really want the job anyway. Partly this decision was based on things I learned about the school--religious and political atmosphere, pay scale, etc.--but the more important factor was the realization that, despite almost two decades of believing otherwise, I didn't really want a tenure-track position at a four-year school. I realized, to my great amazement and not a little horror, that I'm comfortable where I am. At HHCC, of all places. Really.

I can now say out loud that I'm not interested in the tenure track (a few months of reading the Chronicle forums and blogs of those enduring that experience should be enough to convince anybody). I enjoy scholarship and research, but I think I enjoy it largely because there's exactly no pressure on me to be productive. I get to work on projects that interest me, rather than projects that seem publishable. And if it takes me two or three years to get an article out of it, or if nothing tangible ever comes out of it, so be it. I've long understood that I'm no powerhouse in the world of scholarship, and I long ago proclaimed myself to be primarily a teacher. What happened this fall was that I began to come to terms with that identity.

So I guess that's what this space is really about for me: coming to terms with who I am. I'm a community college instructor. I'm a medievalist. I'm a father of two exhaustingly wonderful children. Finding a way for all of these roles to fit together is the challenge. But I think the challenge will be a little easier now that I know I'm where I'm supposed to be.

In the meantime, I still have all of those ducks to deal with.

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