Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Still Thinking I Might Escape

We came to this job in Arkansas when the kid was four years old, and my hand to God*, our plan was to stay for a couple of years.

Four years maybe.  Five years tops!

I mean, sure, this was a decent job, and so much better than the job I had just left, plus I was getting to teach some great classes and helping to build a great program, but holy hell, right?  Arkansas?

Not even a particularly great town in Arkansas. Not the worst town in Arkansas, mind you, but far from the best. (For instance, over the past three years, my charming town has voted down a special tax to increase our library holdings, which are abysmal, and another special tax to put in bike and walking trails -- over 70 percent of our streets don't even having fucking sidewalks, I kid you not.)

We finally got an actual museum in the state, Crystal Bridges, a few years ago; and this past year the Waltons funded a kind of a mini branch museum of that museum here in our town -- very tiny, but with real art in it.  I mean, it's something, and better than what we had before in Arkansas, which was no art at all, except what the art program at our university produced -- excellent, mind you, but student art, and limited.

Our only theater is also the university theater, and one small community theater, and what comes through organized by the university -- usually six or seven shows that are more spectacle than serious theater.

Worse, my kid is very nearly the only Jew in her high school.  I think I've mentioned the heart-breaking little moment when she was six or seven when she looked up at me and said, wistfully, "Mama...are there any other Jews?"

Anyway.  Anyway.  My point, and I do have one, ever since I landed here, I've been hunting jobs elsewhere.

At first I did this with zeal and hope.  At first, you know, it seemed actually likely that one of these jobs might happen. There were jobs, is what I'm saying, dozens of them, all over the country, and I applied for them, and fairly often I made the short list.  I didn't get hired -- but I often came close.

Lately, though, wow.

Each year the possible jobs I can even apply for get fewer.  Last year there were only a couple, and most of them were jobs in places I did not even want to apply for -- South Carolina, for instance, or Mississippi, or Arizona.  Places where, if you came right down to it, I'd rather stay here in Arkansas, thanks, than take a job there.

But most of the jobs lately, well, they aren't even real jobs.  They're one-year positions, or they're half-time positions.  At the best they're three years "with possibility of renewal."  I mean, these are the *best* jobs.

Or they're jobs in Qatar.  In China.  Or two year jobs in Qatar (with "chance" of renewal!)

That's where we are now in the Academy, y'all.

I think I may have to reconcile myself to facts.  I'm doing ten to life in Northwest Arkansas.

I suppose there are worse fates, though.

(Me, my kid, and my mother at the Fayetteville Farmers Market, fifty miles up the mountain from home.  The other photos, in order: the view outside our front door, last winter; Crystal Bridges, from the top of the front stairwell entrance; Crytsal Bridges, the central lagoon, my kid, leaning over the railing. All photos by Dr. Skull.)

*That God I don't believe in, yeah, that one.


Anonymous said...

Yea, I've had a similar experience overseas.

When I first moved here, I couldn't wait to move back to the U.S. The job was o.k., but there was so much red-tape, and the weather was horrible, and I couldn't watch football easily, etc.

Then I found some friends to go running with. And some good pubs. And backpacking routes. And my teaching was well received. And I taught myself to be a good cook. And I travelled to Europe...

So, I've found things here that I like.

delagar said...

Yes, that's the other thing -- we've got a community here, a writing group, markets we know, places we like to hike. All of that would be hard to lose.

Anonymous said...

At least it's not Idaho?

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

We at least live in a city with the amenities that you're missing, but I am in a job that I hate. Sigh. I have been on the job market every year since I came to HU (going into my 5th year here), but I've never even gotten an interview. So I guess I'm stuck in the job I hate in the city I increasingly find pretty great. I can't decide what should be the priority. Good location or good job?

delagar said...

It's a tough call, Fie. I can travel to cities with better stuff, but who has time? Plus I've had to raise my kid here -- she's only seldom seen a decent museum, she's never been to a real concert, she's only seen a couple of plays, she was sixteen before she ate a real BLT.

Also, Dr. Skull has never really found work he likes here -- I mean, every now and then he's found a job that lasts for like a few years that he likes. Nothing long term. And that's always been a problem.

On the other hand, yes, having a job *I* love makes my life so much better.

Wouldn't it be just excellent to live somewhere great and have a job we loved?