>No, it’s not about sweet faced Betty the Brittany — still no word on when our home visit and meet-up will be, and now there’s another applicant interested in her, so there’s competition! Oh no!
But never mind that. I’ve got other good news: my bestest friend from grad school, D., got a tenure-track job offer! Yay! And there’s a chance he’ll get a counter-offer from the place where he’s a VAP. He might have choices! Woo-hoo! This is after at least four years on the market, and only this year did he get campus visits. He’s an Americanist and works on 20th century fiction, so he’s in what seems to me just about the hardest sub-field of English there is because there are only a handful of jobs out there every year and tons and tons of applicants. He’s been moving around from one short-term contract position to another for the last four years and my heart was vicariously breaking for him every time job season didn’t work for him. But now I get to celebrate with him over his good news! Yay!
On a slightly less celebratory note: this reminds me of Squadratomagico’s post on what sacrifices we make in this profession (which I’ve been meaning to respond to more personally, but haven’t gotten a chance to do). D. is only a year younger than I am — he’s 37 — and he entered grad school with me in the same year in the mid-90s, after having taken off 2 years between college and grad school. And he’s only now getting his first stable, full-time job at 37. Bullock’s story — in a different discipline — is similar: really competitive sub-field with only a handful of jobs, many years of VAP jobs, and no stable employment until he was 35, even though he only took one year off between college and grad school and moved through his Ph.D. faster than either D. or I did.
I think D. will be really happy in his job whether he takes the one being offered or gets a counter offer at his current institution and stays there. And he’s a fabulous teacher and an incredibly smart and creative thinker with much to contribute to his field. I can also see him forging a a career as a public intellectual as well as a more specialized scholar, and so I think the greater intellectual world will benefit from his continued presence in it. And so I’m very, very happy for him. But damn, it took him a lot of super-human perseverance and patience and hope and fortitude to get there, as well as a lot of emotional, personal, and financial sacrifices. I need to tell D.’s story to my students every year in my “intro to grad study” class (especially since a number of them are interested in 20th century American literature), only in that version of the story, the focus will not be on the happy ending. Instead, I’ll start there and work backwards, so they have a better sense of what happens along the way.
But for now, I just want to jump for joy and celebrate with D. Yay, D.!