I’ve been gone for two months, an unprecedented blogging hiatus. Things are changing here at carrots headquarters. That means that we’ve been running by the seats of our pants. The cats are restless. The carpet needs vacuuming. And I’ve been staring into the pantry, unwilling to brave the grocery store, trying to devise dinners out of instant rice, peanut butter, and microwave popcorn.
In the words of Bill (or Ted?), strange things are afoot at the Circle K.
First, I got a job. That deserves an exclamation point, and perhaps italics. I got a job! After four years of sending out dozens of hopeful application letters, producing what my advisor claimed was a hysterical number of sample syllabi, composing pages-long lists of small talk topics for campus visits — “So, I hear that cicadas migrate through this part of the country each spring! How do you deal with stray exoskeletons?” — and coming in second place more times than is healthy for a vulnerable, freshly-minted PhD, I suddenly found myself deciding between two wonderful offers from two wonderful schools. I felt so very lucky and so very overwhelmed. I know that uttering even a syllable of discontent about that situation in this market merits excommunication from academia, but I was baffled to find myself facing a choice. I don’t think I’ve ever logged so many hours on the phone with family and advisors, or burned through so many pencils scrawling pros and cons lists, or asked the same questions of myself and Danny so many times.
I talked and reflected until words started becoming nonsensical — Seussian or Learian or Carollian — and then I made two terrifying phone calls. And so. In the fall, I’ll begin a position as Assistant Professor of English in New England — a huge change, but a choice I feel great about.
Phew. I am leaving Houston, people. LEAVING HOUSTON. For a JOB. Whoa. I better start eating some serious Tex-Mex, and fast.
After my two offers but before my two phone calls, however, Danny’s dad, Bert, died very suddenly. Anyone who has met Bert knows what a huge life force he was, and it is still impossible to imagine him gone. I drove Danny to the airport, our conversation wavering a little drunkenly between job one and his family, job two and his last visit with his dad, job one again but maybe job two and how is his brother dealing with this? Total excitement and total confusion and total grief.
Things are finally starting to settle down, though there is still this strange vibration throughout the apartment. Sometimes it’s difficult to disarticulate the joy and excitement from the vestiges of confusion and the sadness that will certainly be sticking around for awhile. And they weave together, the warp and woof of this what’s happening next for us.
Bob emailed me an appropriate Dickensian quote: Joe Gargery in Great Expectations recognizing that “life is ever so many partings welded together.”
And then there’s Paulo Coelho: “Life has many ways of testing a person’s will, either by having nothing happen at all or by having everything happen at once.”