I've looked for so long with trepidation at this moment, it's hard to explain, even to myself, the peace I feel having arrived at it. Bred of hyperbolic warning, the chanting Chicken Little cant had built up for years to say that when you go up on the job market, you will find it a wasteland, cry out for thirst and you will find no water or
The world...hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night
...as Matthew Arnold has it in "Dover Beach."
But after six years in my Ph.D. program, I am at long last gathering materials for a nationwide search, not as practice for applying for hypothetical teaching jobs, or research jobs, but for actual positions that exist at actual universities, for which I am qualified and after which I am eager.
What I wasn't expecting is the level of fun it would be, matching my skill-set and background to the needs of various universities and laying that over a grid of desirable cities and the attendant possibilities for my wife's dancing career, like some great pattern-seeker, like a game. Moreover, I thought the work itself would be drudgery: tailoring letters of application to those schools once I'd narrowed the list and requesting recommendations etc etc ad infinitum, but even that has been a joy. I can't help but dream of possible lives in any of these places.
So far, I've been asked to two interviews, and a campus visit. At the latter, I found a position, department, and college that were so perfect I had to recalibrate what I thought was possible from the profession, from life even. They didn't make the offer in the end, but knowing jobs like that are out there, and that people get them is encouraging, despite everything.