Month: February 2011

Literally a Starving Artist

This morning when I signed into my bank’s website to check out what my balance looked like, I was shocked to see: $0.00. I had recently deposited $100 dollars. With it, I bought $23 dollars of groceries, a haircut, and some gas. That’s right. In less that a week I blew 100 bucks. I had 6 bucks laying around and I put into my gas tank so I could get home. I currently have $1.01 in savings account and that’s it. I’m surprised my bank hasn’t shut down my account.

While, I do admit to being horrible with budgets, my new years resolution was to get my finances in order, I do feel like I am the victim of a horrible pay schedule. I get paid once a month. I haven’t been paid since the end of December. FH has really been helping me. Boy has got my back. My next pay check is due March 1st. I need to file my taxes because I might get lucky and get some money back. I’m not hopeful.

I have some change in a mini-piggy bank. I’m hoping for 20 bucks. I just need to get some gas. In case you’ve been living under a rock, or live in a place with good public transportation gas is fucking expensive. Every day it seems to go up by about 10 cents. At this rate, I’m going to have to hitchhike to work.

As I spent the last 6 dollars to my name to fill my gas tank I had a true existential crisis. I’ve been crying for about an hour and am still pretty emotional. I will be calling the cable company to cancel the cable starting March 1st. I’ll be keeping my internet and Netflix, but that’s it. I may only save 50 bucks a month doing this, but honestly 50 bucks would at least fill up my gas tank.

I’ve been thinking of getting an emergency credit card. One that stays frozen in a block of ice and is then thawed for emergency use only. What do you think?

Every time I look at my bank accounts and see how broke I am, I reevaluate my life choice to be a professor. I don’t know how much longer I can live this existence. The thing is my degree is useless unless you teach, not to mention the job market isn’t really brimming with opportunities for loser adjuncts like myself.

I’m starting to get worried about the summer. What if I don’t get any sections? How the hell am I going to pay my bills? Waitressing? Ugh, just the thought of it.

I’m grateful that I have FH and a pretty supportive family. Still, when I talk to my mother about my finacial situation, I can’t help but hear the disappointment in her voice. She is an immigrant, as is my father, and if you know anything about immigrants all they want is for their kids to be more successful than themselves. For our family, that is not the case.

Maybe I should take a dollar in the change that I have and play the lotto. I’m pretty down right now, and I’m thinking the only way to go is up, right?

Dear Fellow Adjunct

Dear Fellow Adjunct,

Hi, how is it going? We’ve been sharing an office space now for about 8 weeks and I just have a few words I’d like to share with you.

First off, you are quite nice. You’re clearly devoted to your work, and frankly, after the past few years of slowly becoming desensitized and burnt out, it’s quite refreshing to meet a young teacher like myself who cares. Who cares as much as I once did. 

I know we don’t know each other well. This, of course, is my fault. I am deliberately being cold and distant. Call me a bitch, although I haven’t been one to you, if you’d like. Honestly it is for your own good. It is clear, from the conversations we’ve been having that you think I’m friendly and want to be your friend. Why, yes I’d like that very much. You’re a sweet girl. We both share similar tastes in film, books, and clothes. We both are obsessed with same celebrities. Franky,I think we could have been good friends in another life. There is one thing though, that I must tell you.

Well, I don’t know how to say this without sounding horrible, but here it goes. I don’t want to hear you complain about your students. I’m tired of you reading crappy run-ons an fragments that your students write. Are you honestly surprised that your students perform this way? We aren’t at Harvard (oops the cat’s out the bag readers). We are at a mediocre school that sits on the outskirts of a city (I am being deliberately vague, readers).

Here’s why I don’t want to bitch with you about my students, because frankly it depresses me. There was once a time when I too, would have indulged in this complaining. I’m over it. No good comes from the whining and bitching. None. It only makes it more challenging to grade the papers.  I too have given them the key to writing brilliant paragraphs. I too have spent hours giving the m feedback they ignore. I understand your pain. I too was surprised when I first started teaching. The thing is I don’t want to bitch about it. In case you haven’t noticed, I always change the subject when you discuss your students. I’d rather talk about Malaria, or Darfur than your students and their inability to follow instructions.

So, while you’re lovely, no we can’t be Facebook friends. If you’ll notice, your reference to this possibility was ignored, as if I didn’t hear it. It’s not that I don’t like you. Maybe  in another life (maybe if we’d gone to grad school together and been TA friends), I would have befriended you and we could have been shopping buddies. Currently, we are co-workers, lowly adjuncts in a cruel cruel world. It’s depressing enough without the complaining.

As far as our relationship in the office is concerned, please do not  worry. We can be friends; well acquaintances. We can talk about anything you want–except teaching.

Please forgive me. I just can’t take it. I can’t take the complaining.

All the best,

One Mean MFA

p.s. I hope you don’t get burnt out as quickly as I did.

Get it Together, Woman

So, after another week of conferencing, it feels so good to be back on schedule. This morning I went to spinning and after having 6 days off of an already tough workout, this morning was especially challenging.

I don’t know about you guys, but I have really been struggling getting my act together this semester. I moved into my new apartment in mid-December and I’m still not fully unpacked. I can’t get into a cleaning routine, and my eating, workout, and writing schedule are all out of whack. Have you been struggling to get it together?

For whatever reason, I’ve decided to blame this winter weather and all its snow days. The semester got off to late start, and so now I’m all messed up. My “to do” list just for today is brutal. Of course, instead of getting on it, I’m sitting here typing away on WordPress. I feel like if I do a little bit of pleasure writing, I will be able to focus on the more crappy stuff, like reading rough drafts, and grading grammar quizzes.

I feel like if I don’t get my s*$t together I’m in for an even more horrible end of semester. Seriously, what the hell is the matter with me.

Not only have been slacking in the teaching department, I’ve been pretty terrible at wedding planning. I did, however, book a venue  this weekend so at least that is done.

Since, I’ve been sucking at life, I’ve decided it time to devote myself to a schedule. My workout schedule is pretty awesome, so I won’t be touching that. It got a bit messed up because of the conferencing but now, since I’m back home I’ll be able to really focus on being a hot and fit bride (I really want my arms to look Michelle Obama good for the wedding).

I’ve established a schedule where 4 days out of the week will be focused on teaching, and one day will be devoted to wedding planning. Of course, writing time is built-in. My major concern is that if I don’t get organized, my novel will not get revised, bridesmaid dresses will not be picked out, and my students will never get graded.

Since I’m establishing a schedule for my life, I feel the same thing is necessary for this blog. Do you all have any suggestions? I’m thinking of posting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Of course, should I feel inspired, I may post on other times, but I really want to establish a writing schedule for this space. I’ve already been more active on Twitter, and Facebook so please friend and follow me. I promise to follow you back. We can have writerly conversations all over the internet. Get excited.

Please post suggestions in the comments section.

Am I a Bad Teacher?

This week was one of those weeks of teaching that reminds you to keep your priorities straight. Too keep pumping out writing. It reminded me why I need to revise my novel, and why I need more publications. There were a few incidents this week. I’m relieved that I was able to take Wednesday through Friday off because I don’t think I would have been able to handle another one this week without losing my cool and my job.

Incident Number One

I had arrived early and was setting up. One of my students came in and sat down.

“Miss, I’m so lost. Have we turned anything in? Have we done anything in this class?”

I looked up. I absolutely suck at containing my emotions; it is why I will never be a poker champion or spy.

“Uhhh, yeah.”

The students are working on a research paper and have turned in two annotated bibliographies, and a proposal. They also have had two class discussions on-line.

“I’m just so lost.”

“Well, see me after class.”

Once class got going, I had to explain, for the one millionth time, how to upload documents and assignments via Blackboard.

“Miss, I’m just so confused.” This same student said. I think he was trying to get the other students to say the same thing, but they were all quiet. “I’ve been confused since we started.”

We’re ten weeks into the semester.

“Well, oftentimes when students are confused they come to office hours, or email me.”

“Miss, I’m too busy to hunt you down.”

“Well then you’ve clearly indicated where your priorities lie. So…”

“Miss, you need to stop. We need to stop having this conversation because you’re being sassy.”

That’s right folks, he said I was being sassy.

I simply plowed through the lesson and was relieved that FH had Oreos at his house when I got there.

As I type out this minor incident, I guess it wasn’t that big of a deal, I guess, I was just irritated that a student could be so disrespectful. That was of course until the next day.

Incident Number Two

So, currently, in one of my classes, we are reading 1984. The class is a remedial type course where students are retaught or taught how to develop their ideas into papers. They are also required to read a novel to work on their reading skills.

Well, after passing out their reading quiz my students informed me they hadn’t read far enough into the novel to answer the questions on the quiz. Mind you, the reading schedule for the book is on the syllabus that I handed to them day one of classes.

Since, I strive to be a hard-ass I made the students take the quiz anyway. They should have read. I will also be counting the grades–or should I say zeros–for the quiz. I was so disappointed in them. Anyway, while we were grading them (I let the students switch papers and grade them) one of my students proceeded to tell me that I was being unfair in accepting a certain and answer for question 1 and then not accepting her wrong answer for question 5. She was irate and shouting.

“That’s just ridiculous. I mean come on.” She shouted.

When I gave the students a break, she and her friend who had told me to shut up earlier in the class period, did not return.

Good riddance.

Incident Number Three

When teaching 1984, I think it’s important to give the students some political and historical background on what is happening in Orwell’s world and what he’s responding to. On a side note: my best friend is a history teacher and she always says that English teachers are frustrated history teachers. I feel like this is so true, but I digress.

So after telling the students when Orwell published his novel, I asked them about world events. They said World War II. I was thrilled.

“Can anyone tell me when WWII occurred?”

Crickets.

“Okay, can anyone tell me what happened during World War II?”

“Soldiers died,” a student whispered.

“Of course, it was a war.”

“Okay, can anyone tell me about Hitler?”

“He was bad?”

“Does the word Holocaust ring a bell?”

“Sort of.”

I stood there trying not look stunned.

“Guys, this is considered common knowledge.”

“Well, no one ever taught me that,” a student said with force.

I stared at them and after giving them a brief history lesson that would have probably been appalling to any good history teacher, I let the information sink in.

After visiting DC and spending a good three hours at the Holocaust Museum, I was shocked that my students were so clueless. That they were unable to discuss one of the more horrific moments of human history. I couldn’t understand how they had gotten this far through life, into COLLEGE and not known about World War II. Then, they had the balls to tell me they’d never been taught about the Holocaust. Could it be true? Also, was I expected, required to teach it to them?

They were living proof of the world Orwell created in his novel. I neglected to tell them this.

Apparently after class, some of my students emailed my boss and told her that that I had been insensitive and harsh in expecting them to know about World War II. Was I? They claimed it was insensitive of me to make comments like that since some of them hadn’t been in school in a very long time. Should I not have made the “common knowledge”comment?

So why teach?

This week, I have been asking myself this question repeatedly. I even applied for an unpaid internship at a magazine because lately I’ve been so tired of teaching. Both of my parents are teachers. They both love teaching the students who dislike school and learning. They like the troubled students who talk back, and they are great with them. I, on the other hand, don’t like these students. In fact, the past three semesters I haven’t gotten much pleasure from teaching and I’m starting to question if I’m even cut out for it.

Maybe I’m just not teacher material. Maybe, I do, in fact, suck at teaching?

This week I’ve done some soul searching and well I still don’t have the answer. This week I was told I was sassy, was told to shut-up, and was told I was insensitive and expected too much from my students. Well fuck.

When I expressed this concern with my parents, my mother said, well what else can you do, if you’re not teaching? I don’t know, but there has be something better for me out there.

Right?