My last few posts on TSW have been less than positive. It is time to reflect on the good things in my life.
I am on the job market again this year. This is not in and by itself a good thing; but I am getting pretty damn good at it. I got a good number of interviews, and just got back from my last campus visit a few days ago. I won’t hear back for another week or so, at least, so this is when hope is at its highest. Even when I don’t get offered a job these days, colleagues on search committees reach out to tell me about the good aspects of my application and to give me feedback on why the choice went another way. They don’t have to do that, and I appreciate it very much. I actually really enjoy the visits themselves — traveling to new places, meeting faculty members I didn’t know before and interacting with bright students, giving a talk and getting asked good hard questions, getting to think about my future and how I would like to shape it. I also have an excellent support system that helps with everything from listening to me practice my talk over Skype twice in one week to fixing page breaks and font issues in my handout the night before the talk. I am very lucky.
I am teaching two new courses for the first time, and although prep has been fairly time consuming, I am having a ton of fun. It’s my first time teaching a high-enrollment course to non-majors, and I am finding that the part where I get to stand in front of a large captive audience and blow their minds on a weekly basis is one of the highlights of my week that I really look forward to. I also find that the process of distilling the knowledge of my field into those important bits that I think every student should know, even if they never take another course in my area again, is fascinating. I am learning so much from doing this — not in terms of facts and theories, but in terms of what really matters and how to talk about it with non-specialists.
I had two papers accepted for publication since the start of the year, and two new papers submitted. I have really amazing co-authors. They are understanding when I am suddenly busy and have to disappear into my cave for two weeks to prep a job talk or a last-minute lecture. They pick up the slack for me when I don’t have the time to do what I said I would. (Of course I do the same for them!) They trust me to represent them well at conferences, and I trust them to do the same. We have a good working relationship and a lot of fun. Having colleagues around the world who really get me is one of the best aspects of my work.
And I get to travel. I’ve been to four different new cities I’ve never visited before since the beginning of the school year. I give a talk, someone else pays for airfare and accommodations, and I get to visit a new and exciting place and also get feedback on my work. I get to brainstorm ideas, meet new people, and just generally take a break from my routine. Seems like a good deal to me!
Oh, and did I mention it’s spring and the temperatures are finally rising? Yeah, maybe life isn’t all that bad. Maybe it’s actually pretty good.