At the Palmer House in Chicago, lounging in their grand lobby where I only have to pay $7 for an hour of wireless rather than $15 for an hour of cable internet access in my room. (I was here my first year at Marquette, I think, when I got tix to Simon and Garfunkel's tour, and Kev, Stevie and Erin and I all met here in town, for drinks at the Signature Room, dinner at some cool old local place Steve knew, and then ice cream at Water Tower before the show. A great night.) And I wanted to check for any last-minute contact from any of my applications. The interview system here at the AAR is chaos: completely confusing. Half internet dating, half speed dating, half passing notes in class. My "Jobs Center" orientation tonight, for which I came down and paid for my Friday night's stay, consisted of getting a packet and no orientation meeting. Charming. I don't know quite what to do for the schools for which I have applications out and haven't been turned down (I've been declined for interviews by two schools so far). Some of the schools I'm waiting on are listed as "open" interviews, meaning I fill out a card that gets passed to them and the assign me a slot, or not. There's lots of schools that haven't said "yes" or "no" to me, officially, but have been gleefully sending me more paperwork – mostly affirmative action information requests. So I'm not sure if I'm supposed to put in interview requests for them (other than the few that explicitly stated that theirs would be the "open"-style interviews) or whether this would be tacky and harrassing of me. Of course, in the end, I can't risk making any mistake of simple omission, so tacky and harrassing interview requests it is! So it looks like I'll be hanging in the interview lounge and missing most of the conference proper.
I've talked to a few guys from Marquette who did some interviewing last year. Apparently the fact that I have three confirmed interviews going in is really good, especially given that I'm still writing. Yikes. And yikes to the bare-chested Roman soldier who just passed me! Halloween in the Loop.... It's a warm, wonderful night here, and I went walking in Grant Park a bit ago with Matthew G. from my program, taking in the classic Chicago skyline. I always loved the "sliced-away" building: you know, the one that was in Adventures in Babysitting? (If I remember correctly....) Then I enjoyed seeing the lions at the Art Institute again for the first time in a long while, a bit of Lorado Taft, and the costumes of the people going up and down Michigan Avenue. Again, a great night to be in Chicago. Yowza! The biker-dominatrix who just walked by was a bit ... flamboyant, even for the rest of what the city has conjured up tonight.
The best part of the Jobs Center tonight was running into Kari-Shane, my best friend from my first few years at Marquette, before she landed a job at St. Ben's/St. John's in Collegeville, MN, beating out a hundred people with Ph.D.s in hand before she had even turned in her dissertation proposal. She's tenure-track there, and here to interview candidates for their Theology and Gender position.
Mmm... Bailey's on the rocks. So Chicago. So Irish-American. So yummy.
Anyway, they don't seem to have people down here interviewing candidates for the Theology and Spirituality position I applied for, and she knows nothing of that search, but thinks it would be supergroovy if I could end up up there, teaching with her. So
Crap! A $14 Bailey's?! Palmer House.... I 'll make a point of staring at the scenery a bit more while drinking it, so as to try to convince myself how high-end this all is.
So... she joined me down at some faux pub in the Hilton where the American Academy of Religion conference is being held and we caught up while I grabbed some Fish n Chips: me telling her about the dissertation, which she made cool, excited noises over, at least letting me think that mine is a cool idea. She told me the horror story of her mis-medicated, 21 hour labor to end up giving birth to Sarah via C-section last year. And other tidbits of motherhood. Running into lots of other old faces in passing: Michelle from a summer at Notre Dame, Rhodora from Mark's M.Div. class. I struck up a fun conversation trying to figure out how to sign in with a University of Chicago prof on the way over to the Hilton and once we got inside.
A funny thing happened on the way to the ... conference. In my uncomfortable dress shoes, I decided to hop the shuttle over from the Palmer House to the Hilton, saving me a nine-block walk. We got a few blocks, then stopped. Then the bus driver laughed... and walked off the bus. When he came back on, we finally noticed the faint reflection of flashing lights behind us. The bus got pulled over – a big, regular bus, like one you'd take on the interstate. The driver got pulled over because he had clipped off a side mirror on a car. And the cops saw. Because it was the police car he clipped. After a few minutes, we realized we all were going to get to the conference faster if we just walked the remaining seven blocks. And, like I said, it was great outside. And, of course, I was in a rush to make it to my orientation....
So, so far, so good.