Getting a tenure track job at a major university last year was unexpected. I was fortunate. I'm grateful for the opportunity. I'm excited for the future.
But I'm tired, y'all.
This summer caps what was an insane 18 months. If I'm honest it caps an insane decade that began in 2008 when my wife and I got on a plane bound for India.
To be honest, I wasn't sure being a professor at an R1 is something I could do. But while past performance is no guarantee of future success, I think it's safe to say I can do the job.
My colleague Greg Wilson has been telling me all year that I can do the job. But it wasn't until last week that I think I believed him.
I tried to put my whole dissertation in a single article. My colleague Kristen Moore had gently warned me not to try. But I tried nonetheless. Turns out you can't. But I got it paired down and sent out. Still too long. But that will always be my problem.
But I course corrected and got it done. That is the thing of which I'm most proud.
Greg Wilson was a constant presence in that regard. His "you're doing great work!"--which he appears to mean every time he says it--carried me this year. His cheerful criticism and guidance was a gift.
Kendall Gerdes provided that particular insight only someone who is one year ahead of you can give. Michael Faris played Reviewer 2 to a significant final draft and made it better, giving me the confidence to hit "send." Kristen Moore provided tidbits of insight all along the way and facilitated hospitality for us all even as she is on her way out. Angela Eaton kept me in line, taught me that you should never undercut yourself, and that if you say you're "sorry" any time you say anything, you diminish the value of the apology. So knock it off.
Rachel Wolford provided some key writing advice at crucial moment ("You're going to have to write it again, you can't just copy/paste from the dissertation..."). Kelli Cargile-Cook was a helpful presence when I popped in to ask how to do this or that, and went to bat for me over money at a crucial moment. Ken Baake kept us laughing and gave me my first professional in-class teaching evaluation, like, ever. Becky Rickly was a joyful encouragement, making me feel good to be part of the team. Abigail Selzer King gave me the courage to start drawing stuff down as a way to get it organized.
Lucia Dura and Laura Gonzales, mentors from UTEP, proved to be mentors even here in this new position, providing much need outside perspectives and encouragement.
My colleagues, Consuelo Salas and Lou Herman, kept me sane via our ongoing FB messenger group. They made me laugh out loud when I needed it most. Feedback and the cheerful good-natured bullying they provided in our semi-regular writing groups made each week that much more productive and fun. Let's keep that particular madhouse going.
I was back in the classroom again this year with our ENGL 3365 course. I remembered why I like working with undergraduates. They too are wickedly smart, ambitious, and fun to be around. They study while carrying so many things. They are inspiring. I look forward to doing it all again next year with a new batch.
I'm indebted to my wife, Charity, for her willingness to go along with all this, to provide guidance and leadership at key points. This isn't as crazy as bouncing off to India 6 mos pregnant, but it hasn't been easy. I'm grateful for her love and support.
My kids are the most fun learners in my life. Their bubbling exuberance for literally EVERYTHING is exhausting but beautiful. They make me a better teacher and scholar. I'm glad they've been a part of this craziness.
I know that's not a privilege everyone gets. Single parent scholars who have to keep moving, keep working, keep researching. Scholars, students who are dealing with disability, discrimination, the weight of expectations. All these deserve the right to rest and we must fight for that right for all.
But I'm burnt out at this point. I don't think I'll be much use to anyone without a break. So I'll take what's been given and go, I dunno, camping or something.
We'll see you all in the fall.