When one door closes another opens. According to online sources, Alexander Graham Bell said that. Right now it feels like the other way around to me: One door opens, another one closes. But I try to remind myself that Bell also added “but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us”.
Soon after my last blog post, a door that was closing actually opened. I got tenure. Yaaayyy!! I know, I know, I did not blog about it. I seem to only blog when things are not going well. Hopefully it won’t be like this forever and things will get better and I will blog about how great my job is. Because it is. The other stuff tends to cloud it at times, though. And I needed some time to heal, to not think about it. It did not work, btw. I am still wounded and I did not stop thinking about it. It has been a pretty traumatic year.
Anyway, after a long waiting period, a long appeal, lots of anxiety, the committee above the Dean revised their recommendation and approved my tenure. That was such a relief. I told my husband, my family, a few friends and colleagues, and the whole world via social media. I shed a few tears of happiness and relief after over a year of waiting and uncertainties. The celebration was short-lived because my husband’s future boss heard about it and got worried I was going to prevent my husband from moving and taking the new job he had accepted in a state far, far away, while I was waiting for my tenure appeal to go through (you can read about this here). Husband woke up to an email from him the next morning and the pressure was back on.
What are we going to do?
Option 1: Live apart and see each other on weekends? Who gets the kids? Who gets to be a single parent while managing a career? Who gets to not see their loved-ones 5 days/week? After spending several days solo-parenting while he was away for work, I can tell I am not built to be a single parent. And neither is he. That option is out.
Option 2: I quit my newly tenured job for which I had to fight so much to move with him and become a housewife or a lecturer or attempt a new career outside of academia. This is way low on my priority list, and for now, not something I want to do.
Option 3: I was hoping to get a tenured position in the new city. I had applied for a job advertised there but did not make the short list. It looks like they are interviewing junior scientists and I am not junior anymore. I am still going to bug them to see if they can do anything but let’s be honest, it probably won’t happen. New city has another university too and I will try there as well but, again, the odds of that working out are low.
Option 4: The commute. New city is a 3 hour flight and 2 time zones away from current city. Husband has to be there 5 days/week and we already established that option 1 will not work for our family, so he will not live there and come back on weekends. Instead, I could move there with the family and fly back to current city, stay 3 consecutive days/week to teach classes, advise students, etc, and then go back home. I have tenure, so as long as I teach and do my duties I can live elsewhere and not show up on campus everyday. It is far, far from ideal but that is an option that will avoid me giving up my tenured job. Husband would be on his own 3 days/week (perhaps 4 nights depending on flight schedule) and I will have to spend a chunk of our earnings on travel, parking and lodging but it is an option that might work for a short while.
Option 5: We get jobs in a third city. We both have pending applications and if there were 2 jobs in a different place, we would go in a heartbeat. That almost happened to us in 2012, but may not happen again for a while. Even if we choose option 4, we will keep applying until we find a more reasonable option.
Option6: Husband gets job in another city close enough to current city that the commute will be more feasible. He actually just interviewed in such a place, and it happened to be the city he grew up in and where his family is located. I probably would not get a job there even if he gets one, but it is a more manageable distance to commute from. Fingers crossed.
Option 7: Get husband hired at current R1. We already tried that in 2012 and it failed but I did not have tenure then. However, I have little hope that this will work out this time because my department has always found one excuse or another not to hire spouses, even those who were fully qualified, even those who turned out to be superstars and had won huge awards before being considered for spousal hire, even if a position was handed to them by the Dean, even when the faculty member and the spouse had external offers (sometimes at much higher ranks than at current R1). I will find out in a few days whether history is going to repeat itself and my department will just let me and spouse go because “it is unavoidable” or whether they will realize they have a problem retaining women (only one made it from assistant to associate to full prof in the >90 years of history of the department, every other one left before or was hired with tenure) and do something about it.
To come back to Graham Bell’s quote, I will try to not look too long at the closed door if option 7 fails and hope for another one to open soon after that.