Thursday, April 26, 2012

I've Got a Secret I've Been Hiding ...

... under my skin.

If you're of a certain age (or just have a love of epic '80s music), you already have a song stuck in your head after reading that. (You're welcome.) If not, take a few minutes and watch as much of this as you can stand:

You can thank me later for that.  The secret I've been hiding, however, is not that my blood is boiling and my brain IBM.*

The secret I've been hiding is that there is more to the story that started in November of 2010, and which I put down here in the blog not that long ago. (Go read that now if you haven't already; I'll wait.)

As I said there, I auditioned for Jeopardy, studied for a while, and gave up when I didn't hear anything, particularly as it passed the time period I'd given for my availability (until September of 2011,, although by their rules I was eligible until May 2012). One day in December, I was sitting on the couch and my cell phone rang. I looked at the number - the area code was 310. I said to myself, "I don't know anyone in LA," and let it go to voicemail. A couple of minutes later the message tone went off. I called voicemail, but before I could even get into the system, our house phone rang. Weird. Morgan answered it, and he said, "Yes ... can I tell her who's calling?" and then his eyes got big and he started mouthing the words, "It's Jeopardy!"

He handed the phone to me and I found myself speaking to Corina, a contestant coordinator. She asked a few questions about the things I'd written on my forms all those moons ago at the audition, and then asked if I'd be able to come and be on the show. You might think I screamed "YES!" into the phone, but I wasn't sure if the dates she was asking about overlapped with a trip Morgan was supposed to take, so I said I'd call her back to confirm. Morgan and I talked it over, and figured out that the dates weren't a problem -- aside from the fact that I'd be spending his birthday in LA while he was in Denver teaching class. Yes, out of all the taping dates they could have chosen, they'd given me January 17 & 18.

Slight digression for anyone who doesn't know this already: Jeopardy is taped two days a week, Tuesday and Wednesday. Five shows are taped each of those days, so when Alex says it's "Monday" on a show, it's actually mid-morning on either Tuesday or Wednesday. When he says  it's "Tuesday," it's really just about 20 minutes since the taping of the Monday show ended. And so on, until you get to the following Monday, when it's really the day after the previous week's shows were taped. Unless, of course, the last 5 shows were Wednesday's shows, in which case the gap for the "weekend" is actually 6 days. Confused?

The bottom line is that they give you a Tuesday and a Wednesday to be in California, and you'll come to the studio beginning Tuesday morning and be there until you are called upon to play in a game, or until Wednesday afternoon, whichever comes first. Well, I mean, they let you go back to your hotel overnight, they don't lock you into the studio or anything! They don't pay for your transportation to Culver City, your hotel (though they do give you a break on a room rate at a hotel), or any other expenses associated with your appearance - those are just the price of the opportunity to go on the show and see if you can win. It's like a race entry fee.

You go, you tape your show or shows, and you go back home and twiddle your thumbs for three months waiting for the air date to get somewhat closer, all the while trying not to give anyone any spoilers about how you did. And then, finally, it's 4 weeks until your appearance on the show and you write a blog about it.

So, cat's out of the bag. If you have any questions about the process/experience in general or my experiences in particular, feel free to ask me here or on Facebook or Google+ or wherever and I'll do my best to answer them in upcoming posts(if I can't answer them till after air date, I'll hang onto them till then).

*Although, it would be a great secret if it turned out my brain really was IBM, since IBM's Watson did so well vs. Ken and Brad, even while giving some wrong answers that were real doozies and would embarrass ordinary humans.

Monday, April 23, 2012

At last

Well, I'm back.  Ursula has been awesome writing blogs for the both of us while I've been so busy, and as she mentioned in her last post, I'm now finished writing and defending my dissertation.  The dissertation was one of the most intensive writing assignments I've had in my life, so thanks goodness I wasn't trying to do blog posts on top of that.  As of a couple of days ago, the revisions are complete and submitted, and I'm basically graduated.

This semester has gone by in sort of a whirlwind.  We've both been really busy; for my part, I've been teaching an upper-level course, along with writing up my 80 page dissertation from scratch.  Applying for jobs has also taken up a large amount of time.  In addition, we've wrestled with car issues, computer issues (I'm STILL dealing with those), and all sorts of other things life has decided to throw at us.  Given all of that, it feels like a big victory to have managed to finish my degree this semester.  

While it is an incredible relief to have all of that off of my back, there are still some loose ends to tie up.  The course I'm teaching still runs for another two weeks, and I'm most likely teaching summer school as well.  As for a job for next year, that is still up in the air.  I don't have any offers yet from the first wave of applications (although a few of the decisions are still pending), so I'm starting in on the next round.  It's hard to know where we'll end up; there are several visiting positions around the U.S., as well as some post-doctoral opportunities in Australia, Korea, Belgium, and elsewhere.  

Maybe we'll end up here?

Finishing my degree has put a lot of things into perspective in terms of married life.  I never would have been able to pull it off without Ursula by my side supporting me.  She has also been incredibly patient dealing with me being a perpetual student, and everything that comes with it.  The stress involved with all of this hard work has really let me see how lucky I am to have her.  I hope I make her feel as loved and supported.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Almost Free

That title has a few different meanings.

First of all, Morgan completed his dissertation and defense, which means he's earned his PhD! Essentially, at least - he still has to complete a few revisions and all the signatures have to go in the right places, but he's been given the stamp of approval by his committee so it's pretty much done.

That leads me to another way we're almost free - that moves us one step closer to leaving Denver. Morgan has been sending job applications for a while now,  but a lot of them don't really close their window for submissions for a while. Therefore, it'll take some time before we find out what our options are and decide where we're ultimately going to end up.

And the final way we are (well, you are, actually) almost free is that finishing that will hopefully mean Morgan has time to blog here again. I've been doing only a marginal job of holding down the fort while he's been swamped, and I am looking forward to a return of the he said, she said format that we started with.

So with that being said, I'm not going to comment too much about the PhD completion in hopes that Morgan will talk about it since it's his perspective on it that really matters.

Penny is the only one who never gets tired
In other news, my kids were here for their spring break last week and we had a terrific visit. We went on a great hike together up at Echo Lake. Spring is maybe not the ideal time to attempt a hike that's at around 10,000 feet up in the Rockies, but we managed. The sun was bright on the snow (that's why Jacob has his head down in the photo - resting his eyes), and in some places the snow was deep enough to have your whole leg break through so that you'd suddenly find yourself up to your hips in it (ask me how I know), but it was a good time nonetheless.

I could go on about how it feels that Emily is visiting colleges this week and that Jacob is studying for the SATs (where does the time go?), but I think I'll save all that sort of thing for another post.