“You’re lucky,” a guy I knew pretty well told me today when we hooked up at a national media convention. “You didn’t get the job with us.”
Two years ago at this time, I was trying anything to get out of wherever I was and into something I thought I should be getting into. I applied for a job at Big Name School, which would have pushed me into a higher-level job at a better-known university doing “more important” things.
I got the call, made the visit and was cripplingly disappointed in the school, the faculty, the attitude and more. Making it worse, I never got the call back. Come to find out, the person responsible for talking to those of us who had been recruited had quit or was fired, so none of the candidates knew that they decided not to fill the position.
“We got a new dean,” he continued. “We don’t have majors or departments or chairs or deans or anything anymore. We have “working areas.” It’s kind of surreal.”
Instead, I have a student newspaper filled with kids who were excited to go to Kentucky.
I have staffers who feel blessed to meet people I’ve known for years and get criticized by these folks.
I have a boss who was fine with me essentially killing a week of class to come out here and a university that thought this was a great idea.
I have colleagues who are apparently starting to modulate their own lithium and are more decent to one another.
I’ve also got a provost who didn’t try to kill me as an example to all others when the kids ran a column they shouldn’t have run.
I have people who came to this convention with the hopes of seeing me. I have advisers who argue with each other to get my time slot for the paper critiques. “He’s mine this year,” I heard one say. “You got him last time.”
I have people who want me to do things that I want to do. I have more dinner requests than I have dinners while I’m here. I have hugs from people I see twice a year because they really do miss me.
On the way to becoming what I thought I should be, I became what I was supposed to be. I found that sometimes what you think and what you want and what needs to be are all very different things.
So I sit here on the banks of the Ohio river in a hotel room more than a dozen stories in the air, squirreling away a half hour to write something because Friday is blog day and I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I think about all the things that come with not being somewhere else. I wonder if for all my attempts to go somewhere else and do something else that a larger force or a bit of fate had held me where I need to be.
I told a former student a few weeks ago that I finally figured out that running a student paper, yelling at kids and living in a bunker-like newsroom was apparently my calling in life.
“It took you that long to figure this out?” she asked. “I knew that the first time I met you.”
Perhaps it’s better late than never, but I finally realized it.
I am one lucky son-of-a-bitch.