As many of you know, Marta had been on the hunt for a job. In the academic world, this means a series of torturous steps that seem to me more like an initiation rite than a job application.
First you send off dozens of applications to schools, applications that include dozens of “materials,” ranging from personal statements to teaching philosophies to lesson plans for classes, imaginary or real, to reviews of your teaching to samples of your writing to vials of blood.
OK, maybe not blood. But it sometimes seemed that way.
After that you will (if you’re lucky) get a call to spend a half hour in front of a Skype screen while a team of academics on the other end peppers you with questions about aforementioned documents as well as any other random thing that pops into their heads (“Why are you the best person for this job?” and “Tell us about China” were two examples).
If they like you enough, some of these interviewers will then schedule a second interview with you, live, at a conference, which this year took place in Boston. At said conference, you will share a room with two or three other job-searching students who will, along with you, practice their answers to imagined questions while sitting in their fancy suits on the edge of their hotel beds. They will sweat a lot and not sleep well. Then, eventually, you will go to the hotel room of those job-search committees from those schools that have invited you for an interview and, there, you will sit on a hotel room ottoman or office chair while said committee again peppers you with questions and you try not to sweat too much or knock over your glass of water (which one poor soul did: they say she was never able to regain her composure after that). While you are answering questions, perched on your ottoman in such a way as not to reveal too much leg, another PhD-job-seeker will be waiting outside the door for his/her scheduled time, at which point he will politely knock and then wait to be let in. You will then be let out.
Afterwards, if you are at all lucky, one or two of these schools will call you and congratulate you and tell you that you’ve been chosen to fly out to their campus and participate in one or two or three more days of interviewing. During these so-called campus visits, you will be asked to give a “job talk,” which is really just a lecture on your dissertation, to teach a class–or sometimes two–and to meet just about every single important person in the college, from the committee members to the dean to the graduate students you might be overseeing. You will be taken to dinner, but those dinners will also kind of be like interviews. And you will be given tours, but those tours will sometimes be times in which the faculty member giving you the tour bitches to you about other faculty member and you have to be diplomatically listen but not agree or disagree too much.
If you’re really lucky, after all that, someone one will offer you a job.
Marta is really lucky. She’s also worked exceptionally hard. Especially for a pregnant woman. She flew out to four campus visits (and turned down invitations to another three of four more), always wearing those special pregnant-lady prescription pantyhose. She waddled around four campuses and tried to act like she wasn’t always exhausted. And in the end she got three offers.
The first that came in was in the worst location. But it turns out that it was the best option for both of us.
Yes. We’re moving to Lubbock.
Texas, like most of the states where Marta interviewed, prohibits its universities from offering domestic partnership benefits to same-sex couples. But Texas Tech, the university in Lubbock, went out of its way to make amends for this. After Marta was offered the job, we realized that Texas Tech has a PhD program in creative writing, which is rare (there are about 15 or so such programs in the country, I think). After some more research, I realized that the program also offers the opportunity to double-major, so to speak, in translation, which is what I’ve been doing this year in Iowa.
I was thrilled.
So we talked to the university about the option and they agreed to let me apply even though the application date had long since passed. I sent in my materials (writing sample, personal statement, resume) and they then scurried around the campus from one faculty member to another one to another one until they came back with the word that, yes, I would be admitted. They then did the same trying to find last minute graduate funding for me. And they were able to get that, too.
And so. We’re moving Texas.
We’re a lesbian couple and we’re going to raise our first child in Lubbock.
Wish us luck. And send us care packages filled with liberal things. Meanwhile, I’ll update you all on our Texan challenges and triumphs.