Sometime in the run-up to last Christmas, when people asked me what I was going to do after my PhD (and from the second you apply to do a PhD, all people want to know is when you’re finishing and what you’re going to do afterwards) I started giving a new answer. I started saying I was going to be the first Drag Queen in Las Vegas with a doctorate. I’m not sure where that answer came from, but I liked it and I said it more and more.
Then, about ten days ago, I was chatting online with a friend. She was talking about the RuPaul’s Drag Race Final in Vegas, and I replied, feeling sorry for myself, that I really wished I could get a job in Las Vegas. Within seconds she replied that there was a university there – University of Nevada Las Vegas, or UNLV as I now think of it. I googled it. I could see from Google that I’d been on the page before and presumably found nothing. This time was different.
Within seconds my friend and I had messaged each other again. There was a lectureship in teaching English as a Second Language. In the university in Las Vegas. I am overqualified for the job. And it’s in Vegas. I nearly vomited with joy. My head was spinning with sequins and coloured feathers and dancing ladies and Barry Manilow and Britney and the rat pack and Elvis and weddings and the rat pack and sequins and sequins and sequins.
Within two hours I had applied for the job. Within two days, I had applied for two more jobs in the same university, one as a lecturer in Sociology (not really qualified for it) and one as a lecturer in first year skills (totally qualified).
I need to get to Vegas. I’ve begun piecing together my Vegas show in my head. It will be called “Dr Fellony Q. Starlight PhD presents…Doctor in the House!” There’ll be comedy and song-and-dance numbers and sparkles and storytelling and crotch-thrusting and down-to-earth advice. Bored housewives will travel all the way from Michigan, Rhode Island and even Canada to see me. This is worth it.
I started researching life in Vegas online. The university is in the same district as the Strip, which is ideal, and I started looking at swimming lessons and acting classes and creative writing courses I could take there. I have investigated the extraordinary 24-hour gay scene there. I have read blogs about people relocating there. I have had a look around this ludicrous land of fun in the middle of a desert on Google Street View. And I feel like I’m already there.
In fact, I have already registered for the Las Vegas Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon on the 16th November on the logic “If you build it, they will come”. It’s the only race I’ve ever heard of where you get to run through some weddings. That’s right. There’s a run-through wedding ceremony. I have almost 200 days to get my body ready for a half-marathon. I can do it. I have to. I’ve paid my registration fee.
I have a Vegas notebook, that I made myself with a photo of the Strip and a photo of some dancing girls on the cover. Every night I fill it in with all the things I’ve done to make myself ready for life in Vegas.
I’ve also spent two or three days looking at places to live. Vegas isn’t particularly dear. And the places to rent look so much better put-together than the crappy bedsit in Rathmines that is probably my only option if I stay in Dublin. The housing complexes have fabulous names like La Fiesta and Desert Ridge. It’s true that American apartments come without furniture, which adds to the expense, but I don’t care. Every single complex has a pool, some have three, most have a hot tub, a few have a Roman tub, whatever that is, one even has a waterfall. I don’t care if I have to sleep on the floor and eat my dinner from a dog bowl, there’s a waterfall and a hot tub downstairs! Anyway, from the hours I spent on Craigslist Las Vegas, it’s clear you can get cheap furniture (and many other things) if you need it.
I was about 150 pages into a book last January when I put it aside and started reading something else. I can’t remember why I stopped reading it, but the other day, I picked it up again. I don’t know why, but I did. And, within ten pages, the main character moved to Las Vegas. There was no warning. It just happened. Something has been set in motion. This is fate and you can’t fight fate. You might as well fight the moonlight, and as LeAnn Rimes has taught us, you can’t fight the moonlight.
I lie awake at night thinking about Vegas. The University has fireworks at graduation. You can get married on a whim. They have an Eiffel Tower. They have a Venetian Canal. They have Barry Manilow. This can’t not happen.
The closing dates for the jobs I applied for aren’t listed on the website, so I have no idea how long this process will last. I’ve emailed Human Resources to ask about the timeline. HR in the University of Nevada Las Vegas is run by a man with the most American name of all time. BRENT RANSOM. Help me, Brent Ransom. Help me make a life in Sin City. I know you will.