A Candle in the Deep, Dark Void

Where will I live in 2016?This is my third consecutive year of not knowing what the next year will hold. I’ve had a number of these years. In 2001, I didn’t know where I would go to college for a few months. It was panic inducing and frightening. Then my parents solved that problem for me.

It happened again when I decided to quit my job in the Las Cruces Bulletin due to soul-crushitis. I took a vision quest with my friend Sandy and discovered that I needed more time. So I applied to graduate school. That entire year (March 2007 to February 2008) I had no idea where I would live or what I would do. Turns out it was Durham and ‘Be Awesome.’

The last three years, I’ve been frantically searching for funding or for a job and so each Fall, my expectations for the next year vary wildly. This year, I’m applying to jobs in a number of places (see map). I have my heart set on someplace with a moderate climate and moderate workload (Rhoooodes!), but I’d be thrilled to take a job in almost any of these places.

And I have some optimism: it’s not insane to think that in 12 months I’ll live in one of the green places. It’s not impossible to think I’ll live in one of the yellow labels. And it’s… stupid to imagine I’ll live elsewhere. This is my current bet structure. Paying odds:

Halifax – 25%;

New Mexico/Texas – 3% (on the off chance I just go crazy and move back home);

North Carolina – 2% (on the off chance I just go crazy and move back to Durham);

Pennsylvania – 9% (on the off chance I get the Bryn Mawr job or go crazy and move in with my girlfriend);

California – 11%;

Nevada – 6%;

Washington – 13%;

Oregon – 6%;

Illinois – 7%;

Michigan – 5% (I might not accept it even if I’m offered it);

Montreal – 3% (I might not accept it even if I’m offered it);

Tennessee – 5%;

Elsewhere – 5% (I know nothing, Jon Snow)

I’ll update this post in March/April to let you all know how it turned out.

Update (11/29/15): Jobs as of November 29, 2015Out of the running in Gonzaga (probably), have an interview at UN-Reno, had more information requested for McGill and Bryn Mawr. My new estimates: Halifax 22%; New Mexico/Texas 3%; North Carolina 6%; Pennsylvania 10%; California 10%; Nevada 10%; Washington 7%; Oregon 5%; Michigan 7%; Montreal 8%; Tennessee 5%; Elsewhere 7%. Illinois is now out of the question, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Michigan, and Montreal have increased in plausibility (based on direct evidence, new possibilities, or indirect evidence that my application isn’t dumb). The rest have adjusted accordingly.

My map as of Dec. 5, 2015Update (12/5/15): Things are moving fast now. I’ve heard from nearly half of my applications one way or another. Sent another one out to Ohio U., which came out this week. I’m also now out of the running in Mich St. and Pitt (probably), but have new interviews at Lake Forest, Rhodes, and Bryn Mawr. New estimates: Halifax 18%; NM/Texas 2%; North Carolina 6%; Pennsylvania 10%; California 9%; Nevada 10%; Washington 7%; Oregon 5%; Montreal 7%; Tennessee 10%; Illinois 10%; Elsewhere 6%. I don’t know why I thought Illinois was out of the question last week.

Update (12/12/15): Three interviews down, at least one left to go. Horrible interview at Rhodes, good interview at Reno, great interview at Bryn Mawr. I really want Bryn Mawr now, it has moved up in my estimation highly. New estimates: Halifax 20%; NM/Texas 2%; North Carolina 6%; Pennsylvania 20%; California 10%; Nevada 10%; Washington 7%; Oregon 4%; Montreal 5%; Tennessee 1%; Illinois 8%; Elsewhere 7%. No map updates this week, but some will be coming soon. Hopefully in the form of more interviews or a fly out somewhere..

Job Outlook as of Dec. 19Update (12/19/15): Surprises, surprises. This week, I received two new first-round interviews (UW and Pacific U.) and ALL of last week’s interviews turned into flyouts (Bryn Mawr, Rhodes, and Reno, in reverse order of actual interview). I am super surprised and excited about all of this news (with a minor exception of Rhodes College, which may turn out to be a fundamentalist school). New estimates: California: 5%, NM/Texas: .5%; North Carolina: 5%; Halifax: 1%; Nevada: 22%; Washington: 6%; Oregon: 8%; Illinois: 3%; Quebec/Ohio/Utah: 1%; Tennessee: 15%; Pennsylvania: 33%; Elsewhere: .5%. My reasoning is that I’m one of three candidates at Bryn Mawr, and, if offered the job, I would take it (33%). Reno, even though I’m one of three remaining candidates (33%), would still lose out to NC, Washington, Pennsylvania, and possibly Oregon, which adds up to about 22%. Rhodes would lose to all of those and Reno. The rest of the numbers can similarly be determined based on my preferences multiplied against my probabilities.

Update (12/26/15): Merry Christmas!! Some of my open possibilities have closed (Cal Tech & Pittsburgh), but I don’t really care. My friend tells me that the fact Bryn Mawr gave me a choice of interview slots is evidence they want me as their top pick. Doesn’t gel with the fact they sent me a form letter, but so it goes. New estimates: Halifax: 5%; Nevada: 22%; Washington: 9%; Oregon: 9%; Illinois: 3%; Quebec/Ohio/Utah/NM/Texas/Elsewhere: 2%; Tennessee: 12%; Pennsylvania: 33%.

Jobs January 9, 2016Update (1/9/16): Happy New Year!! All of the changes… I’m out of the running for Pacific U. (They said I was a top 5 candidate, though, so that’s nice, I guess. Also, it makes it easier to decide between what may be my remaining options.) I’m also out of the running for McGill (phew!), Utah (meh), and Dartmouth (meh). Very flatteringly, I have been offered a fly out to Washington. I had a largely positive interview with Lake Forest, though I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t offer me a fly out, on account of… well, spilling water on their handouts and accidentally denying their research. Whelp! I know one of my competitors at Bryn Mawr. She is impressive (degrees in biology, top-notch PhD and graduate training, discovered a species, and works at the Smithsonian). But I honestly think I can beat her. I just need to turn on my party host persona and be super into everything… And give a bad-ass, entertaining presentation on extremophiles. New predictions: Penn. 37%; Washington: 19%; Nevada: 18%; Tennessee: 15%; Illinois: 5%.

Update (1/30/16): Shit done collapsed. I had visits at Reno (!), Rhodes (Fuck off), and UW (:-D). I will visit Bryn Mawr College on Monday. Reno has now offered me a job ($60k, some one-time bonuses).  UW wants to talk to me tomorrow, BMC probably has to deliberate, but may offer me a job…. New estimates: Penn. 30%; Washington: 20%; Nevada: 50%.
Oh, my sweet jesus, I will soon be employed as a philosopher…

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