24 hours ago, HCB was offered a tenure track position at a university in Seoul, South Korea. Considering the bleakness of the job market in recent years, he is going to say yes. Considering my general love of him and the overwhelming adventure of it all, I am going with him. But how did we get here?
For those of you less familiar with the details of my life, HCB got his PhD last June, so this Fall he went on the job market in earnest. This process is considered universally to be one of the more unpleasant stages of academic professionalization, and as a strange hybrid, he was facing an even less smooth road to employment that your average freshly-minted PhD. Traditional 18th century scholars think he wasted his time teaching Latin; traditional classicists think he wasted his time on the Gothic. Either way, bleak. We knew that his eventual home would be interesting but weird. We also knew that there are a very small number of schools that fit that description, so we were in it for the long haul.
With these unhappy facts in mind, HCB and his near inexhaustible persistence prepared the necessary materials (to non-academics: this is a lot of work. Especially if you straddle two disciplines, you will be composing reams and reams of writing samples, research agendas, CVs, and statements of the teaching, diversity and personal varieties), sent out the applications and began to wait. Whereas last year when he was ABD, we waited for months, this year he heard back almost immediately from the aforementioned university, a school he had applied to out of thoroughness rather than any actual expectation of being hired. This was a good sign! His letters worked! He caught someone’s eye! Great news. With a measured dose of excitement, HCB sent along the next phase of the application, and we went on with life: there were many lines in the water.
Less than a week later, they were back in contact. He had made it to the next round. Holy. Crap. Things had gone from abstract to concrete real quick. Two things: first, getting an interview is BIG. Like, real big. Second, they were moving FAST. Like real fast. Most other schools hadn’t even begun the process of winnowing the chaff let alone scheduling interviews. At this point (early November), both of us put life on hold. This is important for the chronology. A week after that, HCB had the interview, and as usual, he rocked it. If my readers will allow, let me just pause for a moment to say that my man is a rockstar in interviews. Seriously. It is a sight to see. Anyway. A week after that they informed him that he had made it to the next round. They were taking his application seriously enough that he would be speaking with the Dean of the division. Again, this was serious. This was finalist talk. Ok. So we were freaking out. FREAKING OUT. Everything else in life had dimmed. This was the only thing worth thinking about.
Had that mental preoccupation been preventable, it would have been good to have prevented it because as soon as his application went from the department to the central administration, everything stopped. Dead. After a long and painful period of silence during which we were convinced that they had offered the job to someone else, the interview with the Dean was cancelled, and he was told that it was down to him and one other applicant and that he would hear back about the final decision in a week. One week and we’d know? Swoon. That statement resembled reality not at all. I won’t go into any more painful detail than I already have, but for the next month, we would be promised that we’d know by a particular date, that date would come and go, we would despair, then hear back with a new date. This occurred no fewer than five times. Up, down, up, down. We tried to control the tea leaf reading, but really there’s only so much to be expected. By this week, we were so fundamentally exhausted that we didn’t actually feel anything other than a desperate, yawning desire to know.
Well, yesterday we found out. Two months of excruciating, consuming preoccupation. And the answer is yes. Really? I still can’t quite believe it. In part because he starts teaching March 1st, so we’re aiming to be out there by mid-February. Dear Reader, cast a glance at the timestamp. If we hope to be in South Korea by Feb 15th that gives us 42 days, including today, to complete the longest to-do list of our lives. I need to learn Korean. I need to sell my car. I need to pick through my earthly possessions and decide what to take. I need to renew my passport. I need to go see a dentist.
Oh and did I mention that this is no temporary relocation? Tenure track means no definite end. He will earn tenure in five to ten years. What then? I don’t know.
So that’s that folks. If you’re still reading this then you’re probably a loved one, so let me leave you with this message: I’ll be back often and for extended periods. And, hopefully, I stick to this blog thing, so you’ll find me here. And COME TO KOREA. Seriously.