Archive for category Still Learning
I know exactly what is going to happen . . . and I can’t stop it from happening.
This morning, I emailed four more people about jobs and started looking up what it’s going to take to apply for unemployment benefits when my teaching assistantship ends in May. The good news is I am pretty sure I will qualify for benefits, so I should have some kind of financial cushion for at least the summer until some of the fall part time jobs come open.
As I was putting the emails together this morning, I was reflecting on what it was like the last time I was an adjunct. Feast or famine pretty much sums it up.
During my first teaching job (the one that screwed me over for this summer) I didn’t know how to play the adjunct game. I only applied to teach at that one school since, you know, it was the only one in the town where I lived. I didn’t know that what you’re supposed to do as an adjunct is take a map of where you live and draw a circle representing the distance you are willing to drive in order to make enough money to eat.
This is where you apply for jobs – anywhere within that distance you are comfortable with the commute. (Or significantly uncomfortable with if you were, like I was back in the day, driving a standard transmission car with no air conditioning or power steering through the Sacramento River Valley during summer.)
It took me a year of slinging shots and mopping floors at a major coffee chain before I figured out I was supposed to apply everywhere within that un/reasonable circle. (In Redding my circle was rather large – one school 90 miles south and one 70 miles north that I often taught at on the same day. You do the math – I teach English for a reason!)
So this time I know, I understand how the game works, and with that knowledge I’ve applied to literally every school that is accepting resumes or applications for their part time teaching pools.
And this is how I’ve seen my future: fall semester is going to come and I am going to be overwhelmed with offers. Because of the panic I am in right now about not having a job, I have in all likelihood, put myself out there too much. Because the thing about contract teaching is you can’t say no.
Once an adjunct passes up an offer, it’s not like you go to the bottom of the list – you fall off it completely and then you’re not considered again. Or at least, that’s been my experience this far. I said no once last fall, when I knew if I started a THIRD teaching job on top of my online part time job and my assistantship, I wouldn’t have defended this semester.
Yes, I made the right decision turning down the daily classes they wanted me to teach.
Yes, I successfully defended my dissertation and have my Ph.D.
No, I don’t have a job. At least, not yet.
What I need to figure out now is when to say yes . . .
So I’ve had a migraine today. The last time I had a migraine was about two years ago and was, oddly enough, right after I finished my exams and advanced to candidacy.
Well, maybe it’s not odd, although I remember at that time all I could think about was the fact that I planned to take at least a month off from writing/reading/dissertation stuff because I knew I had driven myself into the ground preparing for the prelims. I had hoped to do that finishing the dissertation too but . . . well . . . it kind of blows when the Monday after you become a Ph.D. you find out you’ve lost half your income for the summer and that while you thought you’d have the summer to look for another teaching job, instead you’re going to have to apply for unemployment.
So instead of spending the last two weeks reveling in the fact that I finished my Ph.D. and don’t have to cringe when someone sends me an email addressed to Dr. MyLastName, I have been in a panic about what I am going to do with myself when June comes and I am broke.
Talk about a buzz kill.
I’ve applied to every college within a 75 mile radius of my apartment. Now it’s time to sit and wait. I am not good with the patience thing but I am pretty sure my body is telling me it is time to take a break and slow down a bit. I’ve worked hard, and succeeded, it’s now time to step back and let my well laid out hand play itself out.
Well, I told myself I would post every day for the rest of April and I didn’t even manage to make it a week keeping up with that idea! It hasn’t been for lack of desire, maybe a little bit about not having anything I felt compelled enough to say, but last night was because we needed to move furniture. I moved my desk – the one I almost never use – into Chris’s office so that we can game together and I won’t have to sit on the guest bed with my laptop burning a hole through my thigh. Fascinating stuff, I know.
So I am going to pull a topic from the The Daily Post blog. It’s not today’s topic – it’s actually from a couple of days ago:
What rare talent do you have that most people don’t know?
I have two nicknames these days: Evil Smurf and The Gateway Drug.
Really, they both go together to personify my rare talent.
One of my closest friends keeps a running list of the TV shows, movies, and games I recommend to her and we spend hours talking about them after she watches or plays them. Another friend just texted me because she can’t stop thinking about a TV show I told her to watch. The copy editor of my dissertation is now playing an MMORPG . . .
And this is how I am The Gateway Drug.
My rare power: introducing people to things I know they will love. How do I know they will love them? Usually because I do but sometimes I just know people’s personalities and the things they might enjoy.
And this is what makes me Evil Smurf.
Maybe “evil” is too strong a word in this context but when I took the “What Smurf are You?” Facebook quiz, that was the answer. But I do provide plenty of distraction for people, usually in the form of entertainment they enjoy . . . so I can live with that, evil or otherwise.
Pippin: I didn’t think it would end this way.
Gandalf: End? No, the journey doesn’t end here. Death is just another path, one that we all must take. The grey rain-curtain of this world rolls back, and all turns to silver glass, and then you see it.
Pippin: What? Gandalf? See what?
Gandalf: White shores, and beyond, a far green country under a swift sunrise.
Pippin: Well, that isn’t so bad.
Gandalf: No, no it isn’t.
My mom’s dog was hit by a car Friday morning. In her young, uncontrolled manner she ran down my mom’s long, gravel driveway and right into traffic. It makes me sad, not the least of which because she was still a puppy, but also because my mom was so very attached to her in her own childlike way.
Simultaneously trusting and suspicious of the world, my mom has always held the things she loves close to her, almost too close sometimes, understanding their impermanence. Now she tells me she doesn’t want a new dog. It just hurts too much, she said.
But it’s loss that makes life worth living, I said.
Pessimistic, I suppose, but no less true. So often in science fiction we see the stories of people that figured out the way to live forever and it’s revealed at the end of the movie or book or tv show that it’s death that gives life meaning, that taking away the mortal coil such as it were removes what is important to life. It is not forever.
Of course, this doesn’t make death or loss any less painful. In my long term process of letting go, like I said in a post a few days ago for #reverb10, I am dealing with a sadness that has surrounded my life. A sadness I’ve held onto for far too long and I’m only just now beginning to know what it means and why I’ve clung to it for so long.
My father died when I was 13. It was sudden and devastating, one day there and then gone for good. My family fell apart, none of us particularly adept at dealing with the weight of that loss. We’re still broken, I think, like the wine glass the drops on the kitchen floor and shatters into so many sharp, slivered pieces there is no way to put it back together again.
I didn’t know my father very well. Thirteen is that age where you’re just starting to understand your parents are people, too. I was on the cusp of that understanding when he died from massive heart failure, one Sunday afternoon.
So when I think of my dad, my strongest and most vivid memories are filled with sadness, hurt, pain, and longing. It’s a struggle for me to remember his smile, his laugh, the roughness of his working class hands with their torn fingernails and swollen knuckles, a band aid crafted from duck tape and a piece of paper towel. The way he always carried a handkerchief, wore white t-shirts and work pants often smeared with industrial adhesive. How he came home from work and read the paper in the bedroom while watching tv.
The week before he died I had been sick with the stomach flu, the kind that gives you dry heaves and makes you not want to eat for days. He had retired only a couple of months before this and was now home more often. He took care of me while I was sick, a difference from the vast majority of my life up until then. Sick nights of puking had always been my mom’s domain and to this day I have no idea why he took over that night. He was amazingly gentle for such a rough hewn man, rubbing my back as my stomach refused to calm down again, and helping me back into bed after each wave of sickness passed.
I felt guilty for years after because he caught that stomach flu from me and I worried that had caused the heart failure, you know, in that way we try to make sense of the world when we’re young (or not so young). It was only when I finally admitted to my mom my fears that she told me it had nothing to do with the flu, that his heart disease was severe enough that his heart just couldn’t keep pumping anymore.
Even the memories from before he died are tinged with that sadness for me. Holding on to that grief has been my way of keeping him close, of keeping his memory alive for over 20 years. But I don’t want to keep him in sadness anymore. I want to let go of the sadness without letting go of my dad.
So I’m working on it, slowly, letting go of the sadness and remembering the things that made my dad who he was. I can sum a lot of that up with this picture, which says more then any words I could ever write.