Venting

The Sunnier Side

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As is always the case with this space I’ve created, it’s been too long since I posted. It’s always in the back of my mind to come back here and vent, but then life gets in the way and I’m banging out pages for short story, an essay, or my memoir and this lovely place gets put on the back burner.

While it’s the middle of October–how the hell did that happen by the way–a lot has happened since my last post which was over a year ago.

In the fall of 2016, I hit the academic market hard. I was still restricted by geography and working full time at the high school, trying to get stuff published, being a mother, trying to be a decent spouse all took its toll. I had one interview, and it did not end with me getting the job.

Another major event happened, I left my high school teaching job at the behest of my wonderful husband. I was reminded with an ever-clear action that I was not respected or valued despite my students having increased their test scores–the only thing that matters in education right now–being nominated for teacher of the year, having high marks on my evaluations, and staying 3 hours past my contractual obligation to write engaging lesson plans that were proving to be effective to students in both affluent and not-so-affluent home. Yes, I’m tooting my horn because I was a damn-good high school English teacher. Damn good.

So after some shit hit the fan, I went home in tears. My husband gulped me up in his arms and said these magic words: Why don’t you leave?

I had been at this job for five years and had some hard times, which is the case at any job in any industry in any place, there were also fleeting moments of joy, and I really loved the folks I shared a hallway with. They made the daily shitstorm bearable. We talk and talked and when it came time to give the school my 30 days, I decided it was what was best and my husband agreed.

For the first time in my life, I am not in the classroom at 11 a.m. during a weekday. At some point for the past three decades, I have either been a student or teacher in a classroom. This August came and went and my time was spent (gulp) writing.

While I miss some elements of the classroom, I don’t miss any of them enough (yet) to warrant a return. And with things being up in the air with my husband’s career, for the first time since I graduated with M.F.A., geography may not be an issue.

So, for the past month, I’ve begun to hit the academic market even harder. I’m no longer limited to a commuting distance. Now, I’m looking at places all over the country. I can actually see it happening now. The dream. It feels so much more real. More tangible than ever.

In the past, I’ve been known to get my hopes too high. I will apply for the job and suddenly my mind has decorated my office, my work wardrobe for the next year is planned, I can see my name on the door. I’m doing a lecture at this college and walking my jolly-tenured ass to class. I’ve planned which audiobooks I’ll listen to in the car on my drive to work. This makes those rejection emails so much more painful. How can they not hire me? Don’t they know my nameplate is already on the door in the English department building?

While I still let my hopes run wild because if anything I’m an idealist, I’m trying to temper the decorating and audiobook planning. I have looked on Realtor.com and Zillow.com to see what the housing markets look like in the neighborhoods of the colleges I’m applying for, but I’m totally justifying this by thinking it be smart to have an idea of where my kiddo might start kindergarten.

In addition to hitting the academic market hard, I’m also looking for non-teaching jobs in my area because–money. We need money. Those student loans won’t be paying themselves off neither will our mortgage. That too has been frustrating because I’m over-qualified with no experience outside of teaching. I have faith something will happen and if doesn’t maybe the book I’m writing will be the silver bullet to our “good debts.” I told you I was an idealist.

I started somewhere with this post and now I don’t know how I ended up where I’m about to but whatever.

I will close by saying I know how f***ing lucky I am to have a spouse that can support our family financially while I spend my days writing and job hunting. I’m lucky my husband isn’t an asshole who holds this over my head. I know I’m blessed that he understands my happiness is just as valid as his and his support means I’m able to pursue my art.

When I decided to leave the classroom for the world of the starving artist who isn’t starving because she’s married, I told him I felt guilty because had we not been married and in the situation we are in, I would have to just suck it up and keep teaching high school. If I were single, I’d still be in the classroom not having time to work on my book and look for jobs in academia. Was my depending on him for money, anti-feminist? Was I hurting my gender with this decision? Should I try to keep doing what I was doing? Shouldn’t I be able to hold down a full-time teaching job while looking for one, be a decent mother and spouse, and still find time to write because it was important to me? Don’t people do that?

This is when I realized my problem. I have been comparing my journey to wherever the hell I’m going with others. I don’t know how those professors listed on those English department pages got to the point where they were the one selected by the committee. Their struggle was different mine, and I really needed to stop worrying about everyone else. Everyone gets to where they are going in their own way. The stops are going to be different, the type of snack they stop for is going to be different. The road bumps that will affect their ride will be different. Maybe there are some folks who are able to do it all, but I’m not one of them.

Last May I was in a dark place. I had reached the same weight I was when I was 6 months pregnant except I was sans baby. I was struggling to enjoy time with my husband. Most evenings were spent with us on separate ends of the couch joylessly watching TV then crawling into bed. I was pulling into the parking lot at work and sitting in my car trying to hold back tears of sorrow and pain because I was giving all of myself and not feeling valued. I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t reading. I wasn’t exercising. I don’t know if this is what depression looks like because I’ve never been diagnosed with it, but I definitely felt like shit.

Flashforward to today, things are way better with my husband, I’ve been writing every day. I have finished a few books–nothing to write home about but reading is reading–and I’ve lost some weight. I feel great, and I’m scared.

Every morning for the past couple of months, I’ve been waking up early and working in my office on my memoir, job documents (one of these days I’ll post about the ridiculousness of those documents), and job applications. I’ve been exercising and have even taken to mid-day walks which do not count as my workout but do amount to one of my favorite times of the day.

I can’t lie and say life is great. It’s better. I’m still scared as hell because I don’t know if this risk of losing my full-time job with summers off and benefits is going to pay off with my getting my memoir published and my achieving my end goal of being a writer with a tenure-track job, but it’s sunnier over here, so for now, I’ll take it.

 

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The G-ddam Academic Market

shield-1020318_1280When I graduated with my MFA in 2010, I thought I had gone on “the market.” Oh how I lied to myself. I finished my MFA and eagerly, nay, foolishly took two positions at two different schools an hour away from each other as an adjunct. I spent most of my time that fall and again that spring driving back and forth from campus to campus to make about $10,000 for the year. Yes, I know my tale is one the media has begun to tell. NPR did a story or two about it. The Chronicle has done great coverage of the issue of the adjunct. Also Dr. Karen L. L. Kelsky has done excellent work helping graduate students find the elusive tenure track positions on her blog, The Professor is In. If you haven’t read her book of the same title, for goodness sake, buy yourself a copy and do yourself the favor. Anyway, back to my sad story of my adjuncting experience.

When I graduated, I was so eager to get to work. I thought being an adjunct might give me some necessary experience to be a professor, despite my grad school professors warning me against it. I also had taught high school before being a TA and had gotten the taste of teaching college students and didn’t want to go back to parent emails and the bureaucratic bullshit of teaching high school. I didn’t want to join a profession that was on the downslide. A profession constantly being vilified in the media? No thank you!

Once I got engaged, shit changed. I wanted to get a little more settled. I wanted a job where I didn’t have to drive back and forth across my state to be living under the poverty line.  I wanted health insurance, not necessarily because I am unhealthy–I’m not–I knew I wanted children and those little things are expensive and impossible to care for without health insurance. As a side note, Mini-OneMean recently ran into a bookcase at daycare (also expensive) and had to go to the Emergency Room. There were no stitches needed just tape and glue to close the cut. This set my little family back $700. Yes, you read that correctly, $700 dollars. When my appendix ruptured–there’s a fun story I’ll eventually type out for you all, readers–it cost about $4000 bucks with the insurance. Needless to say, my move to teaching high school and making a salary and having insurance was a the fiscally responsible one.

The issue, of course, then became I wasn’t writing. I wasn’t doing the one thing I was an expert on. Instead I was spending an exceedingly large amount of my time after school working on crap that was not nourishing and not moving me in the direction of that elusive tenure track job. Though I have been teaching high school, I have made it a point to stay abreast and relevant in my field as an academic. I’ve been presenting at conferences and have continued to attend the AWP conference, despite not being a professor at a college or university. It was (is) important to me to continue to be present as an “academic.” I even wrote sporadically. I wrote enough to keep getting published, though not nearly enough, and I don’t have a book or chapbook or anything big enough to get me an interview. At least this is my theory and one that the Husband has said is very likely the reason I have not received a phone call for an interview.

My friends in academia, one in particular who is a department chair, has said my job documents are great. My friend has gone above and beyond to help me refine my job documents, even looking at ads, sending me ads, and telling me when a job is a long shot or to apply for certain jobs because I’m definitely qualified. Still, my phone doesn’t ring, I’ve gotten no interviews, and I’ve been applying for jobs since October. People, it is JULY.

Since summer began, I have had this hope that any day now, I’ll be emailing my high school to tell them I won’t be returning in August. I have growing anxiety about telling my school, a workplace that has been pretty good to me, that I won’t be back. Sorry (not sorry) the school year is starting and you need find my replacement because no parent wants a substitute teacher in their kid’s English class. I have wonderful coworkers and even though I bitch about them, pretty wonderful students. Because of my seniority, I teach all the classes I want to teach. It’s not a bad gig given the circumstances. While I wouldn’t hesitate to take a college job, even if that meant leaving the first day of school for my high school students, I would feel so terrible about it. I don’t know why I’m worrying about this hypothetical scenario given the lack of evidence that it will happen (i.e. no interviews), but I am. I would hate to burn a bridge that has kept me out of some dangerous waters.

Here’s the thing though, since summer began, Mini-One Mean has been going to daycare. I drop the little kid off, drive home, and WRITE. It’s been glorious. I’m writing and submitting and applying for college jobs. Yesterday, however, as I wound down my work and realized I had spend nearly 6 hours working on job applications and not on writing, I became extremely discouraged. After nearly 40 job applications–17 just this month–I have heard silence. Yesterday, I even said the rosary for the first time since my mother died–3 years. I wept in my car as I said my prayers, basically begging God to get me through this job search.

I know I’m not alone in this struggle. I was told that some people apply to 200 jobs only to get nothing. I’m blessed to be employed and to be employed at a place that isn’t hell. It just feels a lot like a purgatory right now. I’m waiting and waiting and waiting. My confidence is totally shot, but on the upside, I’ve done more writing this summer than I have since grade school, and I’m exercising, and I’m happy(ish). I am worried that come this October I’ll be back on the market again, and I wonder how many more years I will put myself through this process before resigning and accepting that I will teach high school until I retire.

This thought, this “Plan B: High School Teacher” is not okay with me. The Husband is always saying you can’t have a Plan B, only a Plan A because then you give up on Plan A. I definitely and beginning to feel the pressure of this. It’s like be a professor or bust! I would hate to end up settling into this profession and have my kiddo (or maybe kiddos) see that I settled for work that wasn’t enriching. It was for the benefits and stability. While there is nothing wrong with wanting those things, it’s just not enough.

If you’re on the market right now, or thinking about getting on the market, know I’m standing with you in solidarity. It’s a shit process, and it’s degrading. It’s difficult and trying, and if you are lucky enough to have a spouse, lean on them. Know, however, if your spouse, like mine, isn’t in academia but in the corporate world, he or she will be clueless. My husband is a smart man. He is a really smart man. I married him for his mind (and his looks ;-D), but he doesn’t get it. I love him to to death, but he doesn’t get it. He does get the publishing element, his theory is, get the book published, and you’ll get a job. This go around, as I’ve applied for Lecturer and Instructor positions–those positions more focused on teaching versus research and have heard nothing–I’m not so sure the book would be enough. I’m applying for Assistant Professor jobs. These are ENTRY LEVEL positions. A book is not a requirement in the ad. Maybe like the Husband, I don’t get it either.

Regardless, I’ll continue to plug away at job ads. I’m not sure when I’ll decide to hang up the towel. Hopefully, it won’t come to that. I do know that I’m relieved to be caught up with job applications today because my novel is waiting to be revised so it can be sent out to possible agents. That’s real and tangible and also a great place for rejection.

 

Building Endurance

running-573762_1280Sometimes it feels as though my M.F.A. is just this title that I have earned. I earned it, but then haven’t done what is necessary to keep it. The M.F.A. taught me to be a writer and an academic. Since I’ve been teaching high school full time, I feel like I’ve lost my writer identity.  In fact, I feel as though I’ve lost much of my identity. At one point in my life, I was a runner too.

After I had mini-One Mean, I got a little lost. I lost track of a lot of things. Really though, I can’t even blame mini-One Mean. After I got married, I stopped running to the extent that I was running before getting married, and even my clothes got frumpier and my appearance began to wane. After the child was born, I struggled to get back into shape and even now, I am almost as heavy as I was when I was in the full throes of pregnancy. It’s disgraceful.

Since summer has begun, it’s been really awesome to have the time to reestablish who I am. I have begun to wake up early–I’m such an early bird–to run and then I’ve been bringing mini-One Mean to daycare so I can write. While the writing is rusty and the running is a sludge, it feels so good to rediscover me.

I’ve always worried about not being enough. Not being enough in my classroom for my students. Not being enough for my husband. Not being enough for my kid. Not being enough for my sisters, my parents, my extended family. Not being enough for the world of academia, a place I so desperately want to be a part of. And maybe that’s the issue, maybe I’m too desperate. Too pathetic.

I remember being in middle school and my sister–who is younger than me–being way more popular. She is, by far, the more beautiful of the three of us, and has always had this exotic appeal to both girls and boys. I remember she was invited to some birthday party by a girl in my grade–my sister was a year younger. I was so upset. I asked this girl, who I thought was my friend, why I wasn’t invited. I may not have been cool, but I sure as hell was brave. I would never do that today. Now, I’d just fester as pictures of an event would be posted to social media. She told me I tried to hard to be friends with her and that it was annoying. You’ve got to love middle schoolers and their candid abilities.

That moment always stuck with me (and stung). I didn’t want to come off as pathetic, as too interested. I even played games like this with my now husband. At the beginning of our dating, I would pretend to be unavailable to seem more desirable. The fear of not being enough is one that drives me and as the years have passed since getting engaged, that fear has returned.

Am I enough for my husband? Does he still see the ambitious (and fit) woman? Of course not. She’s been long gone. Though, she may be resurfacing.

This morning I was running along our street. We live away from it all, and I have a perfect 3 mile loop in my area with a mile long street composed of brutal hills. The road with the challenging hills has not been incorporated into my running path, but it will be soon. As I ran, I had to stop to catch my breath and could feel every ounce of extra weight. I could feel the weight on my hips, thighs, and back. All the excess had buried me. My heart was beating hard and trying desperately to keep me alive, getting blood to my organs. It would have been easy to just stop, give up, and walk, but I’m building my endurance. In a week, I’ll begin to incorporate the scary hilly road, and forcing myself to stop less. I also (and I’ve always done this) sprint at the end of my run, so when I entered my house I was panting.

“Are you going to alright?” Hubs asked. He is in great shape. He is very devoted to his fitness because of the line of work he is in, so I’m always a little embarrassed when he seems me after yoga or running.

“Yes, it’s going to be while, but I think I’ll be fine.”

I realized, I really am going to be fine. Maybe my ability to focus and write for hours on end will take awhile to return, but it will as will my ability to feel like the first 3 miles were the warm up.

Before I got married, I trained for a half marathon. I never ended up doing it (cc: my ability to follow through), but I did train in beast mode. I had a buddy who did long runs with me and at my peak of fitness, I could run 8 miles without needing to stop and without feeling like the grim reaper was chasing me. For many, 8 miles is a breeze, growing up as a chubby and unfit child, 8 miles has always felt like a major accomplishment. At one point, I had the endurance. I would get stronger the longer I would run.

I had a similar experience with writing. At one point in my writing life, I wrote a novel. Again, for some writing a novel is easy. I don’t know who these writers are, but they must exist. For me, it was difficult. I too would get stronger the longer I would sit and write.

In the first draft of this post, I was going to ask for tips, and I guess I still am asking (I’m always open to ideas and suggestions about building discipline. I’m not a disciplined person–hence the insane weight gain.) Though it seems maybe when I lost myself underneath the pounds of fat, and lazy evenings with my husband, and the stressful days at work, and the endless hours of being a mother, all I needed to do was keep up my endurance. Keep on digging. Keep on working.

It seems so simple. Doesn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, S&^!

Randomly, I was looking for a poem I had written and posted here. I had nearly forgotten that I had this blog.

Shame.

On.

Me.

I was totally sucked into my stupid high school teaching job. Meanwhile, this perfect space was waiting. I looked and saw that I hadn’t written anything since January. Nearly a year has passed. 9 months. I could have incubated a baby in that time.

Crazy.

I’m currently teaching a creative writing class at the high school level. This is fun and depressing. Have you ever read teenage poetry? Mostly, it’s awful. Mostly, it’s about breaking free from the tyranny of parents or about having a crush. Today, I spent nearly the entire day working on writing end comments for my students’ poetry.

As this year has passed, I realize (at this very moment) that everything I write is for someone else.

End comments for my creative writing students.

End comments for student essays

End comments for online students

Emails to a crazy PLC lead who is driving me to madness

Emails to administrators

Emails to my contractor who is taking an ice age to finish work on a tiny house

Emails to the parents of my students

More f***ing emails

My time is spent in meetings. An absurd amount of meetings. The amount and content of those meetings would be something Stoppard and Beckett would find too absurd.

Meanwhile, it’s all being ignored. All meaning the important stuff.

How does one even fix this problem? I guess, just like weight loss or quitting smoking, or deciding to become a marathon runner, it must come from within.

As I looked through old posts on this blog, I see that this is a running theme. I don’t have time. I don’t have time. I don’t have time.

Right now, as I type this, I’m in my classroom. School has been out for almost two hours. I’ve been to a meeting and have written my last end comment for the day. I have a mountain of papers to grade and should probably stay another 3 hours to get close to finishing it by Friday.

Instead, I’m going to head home and read and plan my writing for Nanowrimo and finish the laundry.

Sorry for the random stream of consciousness.

One Mean MFA is f***ing back.

Aurora Colorado Shooting and My Concerns Regarding Humanity

I’m sure you’ve heard about the shooting in Colorado by now. If you haven’t here is the link from CNN.

I don’t ever comment on the news, politics, or anything that might be slightly controversial even thoughI am news obsessed  But this morning I just couldn’t take it anymore. I have to get some thoughts out of my system and send them out into the universe.

When I turned on the Today show this morning, I was shocked and deeply upset by the news of the theater shooting in Aurora. I sat down with my coffee and oatmeal and couldn’t eat or drink because I was crying. I even stopped to say a a few Hail Mary’s, because I didn’t know how else to react. I don’t know any of the victims, but I am fellow human.

And, I have to say, for the first time ever, I’m a little worried about leaving my house to go to a place where there may be crowds.I’m not agoraphobic. I enjoy crowds and being around people. I did attend the Jon Stewart Rally in D.C. and had general admission tickets to Gaga for crying out loud. Crowds don’t really bother me. I have also attended midnight showings of Harry Potter, Twilight, Hunger Games, and a few others. Never would I have imagined something like this happening at a movie.

While what happened in Colorado is tragic and abhorrent, I also feel deep sadness for the people in Syria, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, and of course, Israel. Yesterday, there was a suicide bomb attack in Bulgaria yesterday that killed a bus full of tourists. I mean, what the hell? It seems there is so much turmoil everywhere, and I just hate it. I feel so terribly helpless and sad. The thing is, those international events of violence are part of a revolution, and while they are tragic in their taking away the lives of the innocent, unfortunately death and violence are a product of revolution and of course religious extremism (which is a whole other topic and I’m not about to digress). I don’t like it, I’m not justifying it, but I get it. However, my brain can process violence caused by war.

Shootings in schools, malls, college campuses, and movie theaters; random killings of innocent people just because–those kinds of massacres make me afraid to produce children. These events make me want to build a bunker so I can shelter myself, my family, and my friends. Acts like this make me question my faith in God and in humanity.

I think one of the reasons that makes a situation like this so upsetting is that the killer showed warning signs, or had a manifesto, or was bullied. Of course, oftentimes society doesn’t get an answer because the killer was shot or took his own life. At least in the this case, society may get answers, although to what end. Knowing his motive isn’t going to change anything. It didn’t change the way we felt in Norway when Anders Behring Breivik shot 69 teenagers. It was only more upsetting to find out why he murdered those teenagers who were at a camp learning about tolerance and diversity.

Of course, even though I’m tempted to hide and never come out of my house, I know that is not going to be happen.

I was a senior in high school when 9-11 occurred. A club I was involved in had planned a trip to New York. We had been planning it for almost a year, and our club sponsor had no intentions of canceling the annual trip. The trip was scheduled for 3 weeks after the attack, and we were all weary of flying. Some of the parents pulled their kids out of the trip. My mother did not. She wanted us to go. I asked my mother why she wasn’t pulling my sister and I out of the trip and she said, “One Mean MFA, when it is your time to go, it is your time to go. You can’t stop living because of tragedies. If that was the case, you’d never live your life.”

I remember thinking she was wrong. I wanted her to come with my sister and I because I was afraid. Of course, the minute I saw Ground Zero (still smoking from the attack) I knew how important this trip was and that it was going to shape me in some way. I remember a few things very vividly from Ground Zero. I remember the smell, the energy of the place–there was such a sorrow in the air (cliche, but how else can you describe the feeling of death all around you?), and I remember the disdain of the native New Yorkers who shouted at our group for stopping to see Ground Zero. One man shouted at one of the teacher chaperones telling her, “this isn’t a tourist attraction. Why don’t you go see the Statue of Liberty instead?” She countered by saying, “It’s important for them to see this. It’s important.” He was hushed after that. That visit to Ground Zero was a lesson in the evil that lives on this planet. That humans are very capable of destruction. Still, time moves forward, people heal, and life goes on. The Earth continues to spin with the good and the evil together. There isn’t much we can do about it.

What happened in Colorado is simply devastating and, quite frankly, frightening. Acts of terror, like the one this morning, can happen anywhere; in a small suburb outside of Denver, on a college campus like Virginia Tech, at a high school–anywhere, at a mall–anywhere. That’s what makes them so horrifying. Where is the next one going to happen? Still, I know I can’t go hide for eternity to avoid being a victim in something tragic. As Husband, so eloquently put it, “something is going to get you.”

Even though these events make me question humanity, seeing the victims being interviewed is shocking, some discussing bravery, remorse, and regret not sure why they were spared while a friend or family member was not shows me that not all people are bad, most are just victims of circumstance. Of course, the media finds ways to make tragedies about politics discussing how the Obama campaign and Romney Campaign have pulled attack ads in Colorado–as if they are doing the people of Colorado a favor. This isn’t about politics, this is about the tragic human condition. The same is true for Bloomberg who is calling for Obama and Romney to explain how they would prevent attacks like this. Can’t society be given a time to process this before we decide who the hell we’re going to vote for?

Tragedies like this are tough on everyone: victims, the families, politicians, and society. The responses to these acts are just as tough. The news is calling on “experts” to discuss gun control and speculate on motive, and analyze how this will impact the election in November. Meanwhile the rest of America is wondering if it’s okay to go see The Dark Knight Rises, not necessarily because they are afraid, but if it’s socially acceptable now that this tragedy occurred (what is the etiquette in a situation like this?).  Then, of course, there are people like me who are deeply concerned with the welfare of humanity and know only one way to put a Band-Aid on the symptom: say the Rosary.

Why I Need to Stop Dressing Like a Whore

The semester is about two weeks from ending, so I’ve  started to reflect on this last semester even though I have still have an absurd amount of papers to grade and presentations to listen to.

This academic year has been quite a wake up call. So far life after the MFA has not been what I expected. I don’t feel any more artistic or creative. In fact, I feel stifled and disappointed in myself. I didn’t do nearly enough writing, although the Spring semester was better for writing than the Fall. Also, towards the end of this semester I read four books (which is not that great) but it’s better than no books.

As the semester and academic year ends I’m seriously deciding if being an educator is really for me.

Recently I had a meeting with the adjunct coordinator at one of my schools. I was super paranoid about being observed because the last time I was observed at the school where I teach remedial courses, my supervisor basically ripped me a new one and made me wonder if I was cut out for education at all.

The day after I was observed at the school where I teach good ol composition I had a note in my box. It was super cryptic and said, “OMMFA, we need to talk. Please see me in my office at noon.”

I nearly hyperventilated teaching my class. After I released my students, I debated going to see my boss. It was a Friday and I had a job interview for a full-time instructor position on Monday. I didn’t want my self-esteem to be totally damaged, but I figured what was the worst thing my boss could tell me, “you suck, don’t expect any sections in the fall”? FH always says “I was looking for a job when I found this one,” so that was my mentality when I went into Boss’s office for the sit down.

Boss: I wanted to talk to you about something.

Me: [gulp] Am I in trouble?

Boss: No.

Boss was super serious. I was totally about to get my ass chewed.

Boss: One Mean MFA, all of the adjuncts are at a certain level.

Boss drew a diagram that looked like a bar graph with all the bars at the same level. Each bar was some element of teaching: organization, education, results, teaching, etc.

Boss: But when it comes to teaching and results you are above and beyond the rest.

Boss drew two bars super high above the rest to emphasize my awesomeness.

Boss: Since a teacher like you rarely comes along, I feel you need to be mentored. I’d like to see you dress more professionally, and be a little less brusque with your students.

Me: I dress inappropriately?

Boss: I’d like to see you show some dignity.

Me: I’m sorry, I didn’t think I dressed inappropriately.

Okay, let me first say this is not the first time I’ve been told this. I teach in the middle of nowhere ( lots of Conservatives–some who are Birthers and believe Global Warming is a myth, and that the theory of Evolution is a crock). For whatever reason I always get jobs in places like this. My first year teaching I was called into the principal’s office about a “mini-skirt.” This “mini-skirt” was a black pencil skirt with a slight slit in the back (you know so I could move in it) and came below my knees. When I told FH about the mini-skirt his first response was “you own a mini-skirt?”

So, yeah.

When I was observed I had apparently dressed like a whore. I had on a white, fitted tee, a scarf (no cleavage), slacks from Express, and a long cardigan that basically functions like a blazer. I know please hold back your gasps, how dare I teach looking so inappropriately and provocatively. I’m such a slut.

Boss: That shirt was entirely too tight and practically transparent.

I don’t know what the hell Boss is talking about. I was wearing a huge colorful scarf that basically covered my entire torso, not to mention the jacket/cardigan.

Me: Okay.

So, anyway after that meeting I felt pretty good, aside from the whole I’m too rough on my students and dress like a hooker thing. I’m still not sure why I need to be so effing nice to my students because even Boss can see that my students produce the results. If it ain’t broke…

Now as the semester comes to a close and I finish grading the never-ending files of papers, I think that perhaps working Downtown as a copyeditor, while probably not nearly as exciting as wondering how I’ll be disrespected at work by a supervisor, colleague, or student, might be the change I need to refocus my life towards my writing. Teaching at the adjunct level sure isn’t getting that memoir written.

Why is it that I have an existential crisis once a month?

The Whites of Your Eyes

I’ve been trying really hard not vent about my students because I don’t want to let their idiocy get to me. However, I cannot contain these thoughts for much longer and so I present an open letter.

Dearest Students Who-sit-in-the-front-then-don’t-pay-attention-and/or-roll-their-eyes-while-I-give-instruction,

Oh what’s that, you didn’t think I noticed? I notice every movement. I notice how you don’t sit up straight or take notes, how you text during my instruction. I also notice when you roll your eyes when I speak.. That’s right, I can see the whites of your eyes. It is quite unbecoming.

I should mention your not paying attention and your constant questioning of my teaching methods is getting old. I understand that you’ve repeated this class and that your previous teacher taught this content differently, and according to you was much better than me. The thing is, I don’t care. You are in my class, and I’m asking for something different. By the way the withdrawal period hasn’t passed, you can still opt out. But if you decided to stick out with me, how about to avoid taking this class again you humor me? Higher education is simply lessons in jumping through hoops. Get over yourself.  Also, you’re in this class again for a reason.

Think about it.

Also, when you question what I’m looking for, or ignore me and then your writing does not contain it, how do you think you’re going to do in this class? Do you actually expect to pass? Suggesting and confronting me by telling me you write all the time, and are a “good” writer is not enough to get the grade. You actually have to be a good writer.

Just in case you weren’t sure, that’s what I effing teach!

So, as I grade your essay that is spiteful and terrible, frankly, I want you to think about the less that stellar grade you’ve earned.

Since you have one more paper to redeem yourself, how about you check you G-D attitude and ego out the door.

I’m teaching this class (partly because the department didn’t have any literature or creative writing sections to give me) because I have the specialization and nearly a decade of education.

Shut your freakin’ trap, open your ears, and for God’s sake stop rolling your eyes.

Thanks.

Sincerely,

One MEAN (and angry)  M.F.A.