As the semester's end draws near*, I feel a bit like reflecting on the academic year. I go up for tenure in the fall** and should be in good shape, but I still need to develop my list of external reviewers and revise my dossier in the next couple of months. As I approach this process, I have mixed feelings about some things. Do I want to spend the rest of my career here? The thought of being tenured is VERY appealing, but do I want to spend the next 20 years or so with these people? In this town? There are certainly worse things, but it's also not anything that I am excited about.
I sometimes wonder if I have a 5-year itch. I haven't lived in any one place for more than 5 years since I moved from my first home town at age 10. I lived in Junior High Midwest Suburb for 2.5 years, then 5 years in West Coast High School Suburb Place, then 4.5 years at Party School College Town, 4 years in Master's City, 2.5 years in PhD City, 2.5 years in LD-Diss Town, and now I've been in Small College Town for almost 5 years. Would I feel the same way about any place I had gotten a tenure-track job? I sometimes wonder. But, I also think that I wouldn't mind the annoying things about my job (as much) if we lived somewhere we really liked (like near my family or somewhere with great weather). Maybe we would still be fed up- I don't know. Of course, there is always the possibility of NOT getting tenure and having to leave. Would Small College Town look better if I couldn't stay?
There are actually some pretty good things going on for next fall here. I get a course release to do some research with a grad student who I already know and is hard-working. There are students interested in taking my upper-level classes in the fall. There's a good chance that I will get a smallish grant with a colleague I work well with. There are also still the annoying things & department politics.
So is it just the 5-year itch or am I really dissatisfied?
*We actually have 4 more weeks, but I will be gone for two of them AND it's so warm outside it feels like it's almost summer!
**Unless another job pans out, which is unlikely but not totally out of the realm of possibility.