Sunday, March 25, 2012

Can an Academic Job be a "Next Job?"

So, a VAP has come up in my field. It is a one, maybe a two year gig with a 4/4 teaching load. There will be a TT line offered for this position in two years but the department head freely (and honestly) admits that whoever takes the VAP may have a leg up for that line but no promises.

I'm considering applying for it. No, not because I think it'll somehow magically turn into a TT line. I want the job because of where it is. It's in a place I've wanted to live in since I was a child. My significant other still has at least a year and half before he's done with his residency in Major City. So, this seems like a good time for an adventure. For the curious, said significant other forwarded the job ad to me, so he already knows about it and was a little hesitant to send it, knowing my view of academia these days.

Granted, this job would require moving across the country and away from family. Most of my friends these days are academics, so spatial separation there is inevitable. And it would mean at least another year in a long-distance relationship, but that too is looking more and more inevitable too.

But the academic culture doesn't appeal to me so why, in the name of all things holy and unholy, would I consider applying? Because I want to live there, at least for a bit. I want that adventure. If I happen to add anything to my CV during that time, what a bonus. Yeah, no exclamation point there - read it deadpan, with a sarcastic twist.

Given my ambivalence (leaning towards bitterness) towards academia, a 1-2 year gig actually sounds appealing. If one or both parties decide we'd be better off separated, I finish off the contract and no hard feelings. It would also give me a more time to figure out what I want to be if I grow up...or at least which direction I'm heading off in. And I would have a better sense if my bitterness is due entirely to academia in general or just to spending the last near-decade in a dysfunctional department with an advisor who has turned into a despot.

Notice, I did not mention research or publishing in there. If you're paying me for a 4/4 load, that's what you're getting. If you also want me publish too, you either need to pay me a serious salary or I will laugh in your face. I research the cost-of-living differential and I know what my bills and student loans will be. When negotiating, it's important to know your bottom line. And unlike some of my colleagues, I know there's a life outside of academia and I'm not above just saying "(Oh Helllll) No" to an unacceptable academic offer.

Don't worry about the school. They'll get at least 30 applicants. On the outside chance that they actually want to hire me and can't afford me, some other poor desperate schmuck will take them up on the lowball offer.

It's just a personal thing. I feel like I should at least apply. I can at least say I tried and academia officially did not want what I had to offer. On the upside, I'm getting more confident in the idea that there's something better out there...and I could still do my research. But that's a story for the next post.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fluffy Update

I think I've recovered sufficiently from this episode to write about it. A little over a week ago, my committee was supposed to decide if my dissertation is defensible or not. The date was March 14, specifically.

Two days prior to this, my chair had the "sudden" realization that my committee needed to read my chapters. I use quotes because I have been reminding and pestering him to read them for two months. The ensuing panic resulting in two more of my committee members finally coming clean and admitting they hadn't read anything either. The fourth member had actually read and commented on several chapters. Two of the members refused to sign off on it until they read a few chapters. A mental breakdown began to boil.

Thankfully, the graduate secretary in our department has an in with a secretary in the Dean's office and was able to give my committee more time. This may have single-handedly staved off multiple murders on my campus. I doubt this is the first time ze's had to do so...or the last.

The committee finally agreed it was defensible 5 days later. Given the comments I've seen, I'm still not convinced they've read anything.

All the paperwork is in now. Fluffy is set for release on April 5th.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi Day

Given the animation I have in lieu of a profile pic, I thought I should at least post again for Pi Day. That's right, it's time to celebrate being irrational!

I do think we need to celebrate the irrational in our lives more often. It'll keep you from taking yourself too seriously. So, in honor of the day, try to think of at least five things in your life that are illogical, irrational, or otherwise lacking in reason but make you happy. Here's some of mine:

1. I have a wind-up toy of a monkey riding a horse. This is my dissertation in a nutshell. It is currently sitting in the middle of a chess game being played between my house mammoth and wooden spider monkey. There's a disturbing amount of potential symbolism here.

2. My boyfriend is teaching me how to play the ukulele. He plays in a ukulele group. Yeah, 10-15 people get together in a tiny corner coffee shop and play ukuleles together. It's awesome. You should try it.

3. I am obsessed with getting a card game called Killer Bunnies. Your goal in the game is to take out other people's bunnies and protect the magic carrot. I think Fluffy would approve of this game and I really want to play it, post-defense, while drinking an immoderate amount of wine.

4. My dog is obsessed with tennis balls. We think he imagines by catching and hoarding tennis balls, he is somehow saving the world. Maybe he is. I don't know how the universe works.

5. I own a top hat. It sits in my living room, on top of my filing cabinet. I guess that means my filing cabinet also has a top hat. I bought it at the Renaissance Festival where I wore it to the smoking tent. The pirates put on a show there where they offered the best advice I've heard for grad school: "Get in! Get out! Quit F&$%ing about! Yo ho! Yo ho! Yo ho!"

Other new posts will be coming soon on such entertaining topics as a life of the mind after academia and can an academic job be a "next job." Stay tuned.