Sunday, January 22, 2006
Job Search, V
My quest to leave Texas continues. For the past few days I interviewed at a university in the far Southeastern U.S. True, I haven’t been offered the job, but why let that stop me from fretting over wether it would be better to move or not? At the moment, making life altering decisions does not seem an easy thing.
On one hand, I like the idea of starting over. On the other hand, packing and moving can be a pain in the ass. On another hand, this new university resides in a solidly blue county rather than the dreaded red of my current county. On another hand, it is still located in the South (why can’t I escape?). On still another hand, this new town was about twice the size of my current location. On another hand, it is still not the urban space that I hoped to find myself located. As you can see, I end up with more hands than Ganesha.
There are many things that make me cautious. One of my mentors strongly warned against taking a job there even before I interviewed. He reasoned that it lacked the same prestige and resources of my current job. Still, I am not sure academic cachet is all that I want out of life. After all, I am not certain I made the best choice moving to Texas based on that criteria.
In terms of academic life, the new university did not seem remarkably different than my current post. Listening to the faculty sounded identical to the descriptions of my current university and department. It is in the middle of a major hiring frenzy and trying to build its humanities programs. The old faculty resisted change, but there are tons of young, hip faculty at the junior level who will soon control the department. They all conduct interesting research and show solid productivity.
Given my outness in the process, I found it a bit odd that they did not arrange for me to meet other gay faculty members currently employed there. Still, I doubt that it could possibly be more hostile than my current university. After all, while visiting I noticed the student-union promoting a drag show for later that evening. In contrast, it would not surprise me if the student-union here sponsored a lynching.
To be honest, the biggest selling point for this university would be its surroundings. If offered the job and I took it, I would be only forty minutes from the beach (two hours from a nice beach). Their claims that the town is the “Berkeley of the South” seem dubious; however, it clearly did have a funky art and music scene. I was impressed by the number of independent restaurants given the size of the town. Also, it had a vibe of surprising coolnees. True, it was a sleepy coolness, but definitely coolness all the same.
Unlike my current location, it also had natural beauty. Tons of ancient oaks covered in Spanish moss gave the town an eerie prettiness. Also unlike my current location, I did not see a single church sign attacking gay folk.
So, I will sit and wait to hear from them. All things considered, it might be surprisingly good for me to make a change.