adjuncting

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.

 

The End of the Hunt: The End End

I wept audibly for about twenty minutes before I was able to find the strength to call FH. The minute FH answered I lost it again.

“Hello.”

“Wahahaha…….job……teaching….credits….” Gasps for breath. “I…can’t….wahahaha.”

“What?”

This kept on for about ten minutes.

Somehow I managed to find the ability to speak and explained what happened. I was about to lose it. The thought of adjuncting and being broke was just not an option. I sounded like a drunk person who kept repeating themselves.

“I hate this life,” I repeated as I visualized my bottom-of-the-totem pole existence.

FH was encouraging and told me everything was going to be okay. He had my back. He told me all kind words I needed to hear in order to collect myself.

I was able to stand up and when the call ended I got in the shower and looked like Tobias Funke crying  from Arrested Development (see the “Fire Sale” episode).

I wasn’t about to let something like this be the end of a full-time job, so I called HR after I had cooled off.

“Hi, it’s me again.”

“Hello Ms. One Mean MFA”

“I was just wondering if there was anything I could do. I really, really want this job.”

“Well, there is one other option. We can hire you as a sub, then once you pass the subject area teaching test we will hire you laterally.”

“Oh okay.”

“The pay is $69 dollars a day.”

“Would I be retro-paid?”

“Yes, from the date of the exam.”

“Okay. That’s not ideal, but a job is a job.”

“The principal has to be behind the idea.”

I hung up feeling a bit better. The principal had hired me after fifteen minutes. This didn’t seem like it would be a problem. I emailed him and let him know what the situation was; his response email was one question.

“I thought you had a bachelors and masters degree in English?”

“I do…” was my response.

The next email read: “Call me NOW!!!”

I phoned him while he was on vacation. He told me he really wanted me at the high school and would do whatever it took. He also said he didn’t know one English major who had six credits in grammar. He even told me he’d personally watch my class if I ever needed a fill in.

The phone call ended, and I was relieved. I now had to make sure I knew exactly which test to take. Once again I was on the phone with HR. After two days of calling to make sure that I was definitely hired as a sub at my school, I decided it was time to just go into the HR office.

I got in the car, drove downtown, and found an empty building. Every door was locked. There was a sign on the door with a phone number for security. You’ve got to be freakin’ kidding me.

“Hi, I’m looking for the HR office and all the doors are locked.”

“Oh, yeah the offices have been dismantled and are spread out around the county.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, sorry about that.”

“Well, do you know where I can find HR?”

“I don’t. There might be a forwarding address on one of the doors.”

“Just so you know, this information isn’t anywhere on the website. They might consider updating that info.”

“Yeah. What are you gonna do?”

Morons.

I found the new address and had to drive another thirty minutes in the opposite direction.

After speaking with the receptionist, a licensure officer came out to speak with me. She then went to get the recruiter I had been speaking to for about two weeks. I heard them in the hallway talking shit.

I had to use all my politeness energy not to be a bitch. Sometimes I wish I was more confrontational. I just swallow shit and fester. I get this from my mother (who, I believe, has consequentially developed cancer because of this terrible habit).

I got my info and within forty-eight hours, I had registered for the test, met with a teaching licensure advisor at the college, and applied for a graduate teaching certificate program at the local state university. Still, I wasn’t registered for orientation and not officially employed.

Of course, because I’m impatient I kept calling HR to make sure I was employed. I still hadn’t told the college I wouldn’t be teaching in the fall, and because they had been so good to me I was worried about burning bridges. HR finally called me to schedule orientation.

“Oh wait, one of your references hasn’t filled out the online form.”

“Hmph.”

“Do you think you can have them do it by the end of the day? We can’t schedule you until that’s done.”

“I can try.”

It was done by noon. I had called to let them know and emailed. Still I wasn’t scheduled.

I called all day Monday and around eleven, someone answered. I left a message and was told the phone call would be returned by late afternoon.

It was almost three and the office was scheduled to close at four. I was freaking out. I had spent over three hundred dollars between applications for the teaching certificate, transcripts, and registering for the test. What if I had done this and still didn’t have a job? I stood outside (I was helping out at a camp at the school since I was “officially” employed) and just kept calling and calling.

All I needed was to be scheduled for orientation.

After half an hour of calling and calling, the HR recruiter answered. She scheduled me and before she hung up she said, “Thank you for being so persistent and patient with us.” I thought she was being sarcastic because I had been such a pain in the ass.

“Honestly,” she continued, “if you hadn’t been I might not have been able to get you registered in time.”

So after three weeks of hardcore persistence, I’m finally employed. The principal has assured me I’ll be teaching seniors–I even picked up the textbook and will be starting my planning soon–and have seen my classroom. I’m employed. It’s not an ideal situation, but I strongly believe things like this happen for a reason. Clearly, the stars have lined up to show me the way to teaching license. I’ve put it off for too long and it’s been holding me back.

While I don’ t want to be a high school teacher forever, I’ll stick around for at least three years (God-willing and if the county’s budget allows it). For the first time since before I started grad school, I’m actually not going to have worry about money and will have time write because I won’t be teaching an absurd amount of classes. Feels good.

The End of the Hunt: Part 2

I was mentally shopping for a new wardrobe, specifically some fabulous shoes, when I called HR. I called because I’m terribly impatient, and I wanted to know what the deal was. Where was my contract? What was I going to get paid? When was orientation?

I should mention I don’t have a teaching license. For the past three-four years I’ve been putting off getting my license. It’s probably because I want to be a tenure-track professor, but I’m not. I was a lowly adjunct. Getting a license has been a very low on my list of priorities, writing and getting full-time work has been a first (and I guess the wedding planning). However, I am pretty specialized in the subject of writing and literature, more so than necessary to teach high school. Right?

Wrong.

For a week I was jerked around by HR. I couldn’t get them on the phone and when I did no one could answer my questions. The thing is, I don’t give up that easily. I finally got my recruiter on the phone after three emails, two voicemails, and at least three messages with secretaries. I told you, I’m a bit of a psycho.

“Hi, this is One Mean MFA, I emailed about my hiring and lateral entry status.”

“Oh, yes, hi.”

“Hi, I’m really sorry. I’m sure all my calls and emails are driving you crazy.”

“Well….” this was followed by an awkward laugh.

“I did email you back.”

“You did? I never got it?”

“Yep, my sent messages confirms it.” Well, my freakin’ inbox is empty, so you’re a liar.

“Hmmm, I don’t see anything here.”

“Well after looking at your transcripts, it’s clear you’re not eligible for lateral entry.”

“Excuse me.”

“You’re GPA is too low.”

“How is that possible?”

What the hell?

Turns out I had accidentally sent transcripts from undergrad, forgetting I’d taken a chemistry class that I’d failed during undergrad that I had intended on transferring. Ah how quickly I had repressed my pre-med adventures and failures. Pre-med. What the hell was I thinking. Anyway, the transcript didn’t have anything from my master’s degree.

So, I dropped 40 bucks and had  my transcripts from grad school sent to me instead of HR as instructed. I had them sent to me so I could have them scanned at Staples to then email them to HR. What a  clusterf*#&.

Two days later I actually received a call from HR.

“One Mean MFA?”

“Yes, this is she.”

“I have [insert generic name of HR staff person here] on the line. I’m going to transfer you so she can explain your lateral entry status.”

Immediately I knew something was wrong. Had everything been okay, I would have simply been told that I was good to go and been given further instruction. Instead, I was being transferred to some lady who was about to tell me I didn’t have a Goddamn job.

“One Mean MFA?”

“Yes?”

“Unfortunately you’re not approved for lateral entry.”

“What?” I remember standing in my kitchen in my workout clothes. I had just come back from a run.

“You’re missing classes and aren’t qualified to teach high school English.”

“How is that possible? I have a master’s degree.” I couldn’t breathe and started shaking.

“The state requirements changed July 1st, lateral entry applicants teaching English are required to have six credit hours of grammar, six credit hours of linguistics, six credit hours of British Lit, six credit hours of American Lit, six credit hours of journalism….” she just kept listing all these classes: adolescent lit, child developement, and on and on. Seriously, who takes six hours of flippin’ grammar.

“But…” I held onto the kitchen counter, “this is so upsetting.”

She kept talking but all I kept saying was, “This is just so upsetting. I can’t believe it.”

The HR rep on the phone was cold and didn’t even say sorry for the misunderstanding. I even went on about how the state and county’s website had not listed those changes even though almost a month had passed.

“Well, what are you going to do? That’s life.” It was the only words that I could think of to end the phone call.

The phone call ended, and I dropped to the ground shaking.

 

The End of the Hunt: The Conclusion will be up soon. Thanks for hanging on and reading on.

 

Learning Not to Starve/How I Learned to Feed Myself

Last fall, around October, I had a mental breakdown.  I was bitching to FH about teaching, my students, my weight–everything really. Because he is a wonderful and supportive man, he helped me through it and made me realize that putting in the effort level that I was putting into my teaching needed to be rerouted. I needed to focus on my writing and my career, not my students who didn’t give a f&%!.   Whenever I write, I feel so good. I feel great. Nourished. He reminded me that I needed to write and be nourished because my students weren’t putting the effort in. It was difficult for me to do this at first, but by the time the spring semester rolled around I did just that.

I have now started my memoir, and started work on a short story. Two things I’ve been meaning to do for months, and I finally got around to doing it this semester. I could not have done this if I had been too focused on my students. Still, while I’m proud of myself for reading and writing more, I do think I was terrible teacher this semester. I’m confident that my evaluations will reflect this.

Things I did very badly semester:

1. Took forever to grade student papers.

2. Didn’t respond to emails as quickly as I should have (if at all).

3. Didn’t encourage office hours.

4. Had an attitude of “I don’t give a hoot” all sememster.

5. Was lazy in my lesson planning.

I could go on, but I think these five crimes are enough to show you that I was a bad teacher.

While, yes, I was a bad teacher this semester, I do feel I became this way because when I did give my all, I didn’t get it back from students. While this is not an excuse, even teachers breakdown and need to be rewarded. Even if it is with students turning in their work.

I went digital this semester and only collected work through Blackboard. Having the students submit their work electronically had problems (possible post issue) and while I repeatedly went over the correct formatting and procedure, students continued to struggle with it. In part, I feel they may have been playing dumb in order for me to go the traditional hardcopy format of collecting papers. I also think they don’t listen.

When I look back on this semester, all I think about is how much my students complained to me (and my boss –at the one school) repeatedly. I think about how it was impossible to satisfy my students (and both bosses), how my assignments and methods were questioned continually by both my students and boss (at the one school). Most semesters I feel some moments of reward, incentive to come back next year. I can honestly say, if I I don’t get a teaching job for the fall I wouldn’t be upset in the slightest. I would be totally fine with it (barring I had something lined up that was salaried). In fact (I’ve probably mentioned this already), I’ve been applying for jobs outside of education.

This semester has made me realize that there is life outside of academia. There is a big world out there, and people with my skills can be used in any field. I don’t have to be a teacher.

My mom, my boss (at the school I like), and others have told me that I’m a great teacher. That it comes naturally. I have a gift apparently. Having been told this throughout my career, I never ventured outside of the school walls. When you have a gift, aren’t you supposed to use it? Aren’t you supposed to take that gift and help others with it? (God, I’m so Catholic sometimes) I love school, as both student and teacher, why leave a place that I feel so comfortable? The thing this is this year I haven’t felt comfortable. My hair has fallen out in clumps, since last May I’ve gained about 15 pounds, and I dreaded driving to work. Oh! and my panic attacks and migraines returned. My body gave me physical signs that I needed a change.

The last day of finals I woke up with my chest feeling heavy; I still needed to grade some papers and finalize my grades. As I drove away from campus, done for the semester, I felt lighter and happier. All I need now is a good cry to get out the negative energy still remaining in my system.

The fact that I haven’t been happy, and excited to work on teaching stuff is a culmination of many things. First off, I don’t love teaching the modes, I prefer teaching argument, literature, and of course creative writing. I have had the opportunity to teach argument, but the curriculum and textbook required were not suited to my teaching style at all. I teach a lot of lazy students at the community college level which is actually an extension of high school. Many of my students weren’t at the level necessary to really dig deep. They struggled with basic computer skills, and no concept of how to do research. Also, the lack of care that went into their work was unbelievable. They didn’t proofread, or acknowledge that there are rules of formatting at all. It’s like they just discovered different fonts and decided to experiment using Calbri and Garmound in my class. I think the real kicker as to why I haven’t been happy teaching this semester (okay, all year) was because I was repeatedly told by my bosses (both schools) that I’m too hard on  my students, that I don’t have compassion and am insensitive to the non-traditional student. They are right, I don’t give a f&*$. Get your work done. There is not an employer in the world who would tolerate excuses like: my kids were sick, or I didn’t understand the assignment so I just didn’t do it, or you didn’t respond to my email so I didn’t know how to move forward. Really? Give me an effing break.

So when I think about how I’ve changed because of this semester I realize that not only have I been writing more, but I’m reading more. I’m also really excited about the possibility of a career change (separate post on topic to follow). While I would take pretty much any salaried job that was in my field, that prospects in education don’t look so good, but maybe that’s a good thing. Don’t misunderstand me, I wouldn’t turn down a teaching job, but if I had the choice between a job outside of education (like copy editing or something like that) and a job in education, I think the job outside might win. Just the thought of leaving my work at work….oh sweet lord. If anything, I’m not going to settle. I’m going to turn something that could easily be a negative into an opportunity to refocus and change.

Teaching-wise, not my best year. Work-wise, not my best year. But, something great did come out of this year: more writing and really understanding that I need to be nourished by work. If I’m not going to be nourished and fed in education, then see you students later. Trust me, it’s your loss. I’ve never been one to starve myself.

I will keep you posted on the job hunt.

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.

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.