Saturday, March 28, 2015

Stir Crazy

Just waiting, waiting, Waiting, WAITING!!!!

I hate waiting.

I'd start turning all this nervous energy into packing, except I don't know if I am getting a job or going back to living under a bridge and adjuncting. (In which case, I should probably sell all this stuff to help pay for the spot under the bridge.)

I'd apply to the last few jobs open, except see above, plus arrrgh I hate applying to things!

I'd prepare for my upcoming interview, except see above, plus every time I start thinking about it I freak out about how I will explain to my family the whole story of losing this job and going to an even smaller more rural place, and then I eat all the food in the house.

I'd do some more preparation for the rest of the semester, except eh who cares? I won't be around to deal with the consequences of my teaching much longer.

I'd slack off on everything and just read, except my brain is busy just waiting, waiting, Waiting, WAITING!!!!

Argh.

So, have you read anything exciting lately?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Flattered, I'm sure....

Huh. Remember how I was terrified I would never get a job again and starve to death and therefore applied out to Every. Single. Community College. Job. Ever? That had mixed results. I just got rejected for a couple more "high transfer rate" CCs in places I wouldn't mind living (including a very nice place I got an interview at last time) and now I have an interview for a place that is like the place I currently work, except even hotter and more rural. Wait, no, a little less hot, a lot more in drought, and a very small town.

Oh, I'm going to go to the interview and rock it best I can. But it is unfortunate that my CV is starting to stack up some "strengths" and experience that is actually not a good match for me ---- my sojourn here, for example. It probably looks like I want to work with students with these specific qualities when it is actually the case that I have difficulty reaching students with these qualities.

I'm grumpy. I wish it were spring break already. And maybe I should just move into my parents' basement and live there forever because I am sick of the whole concept of employment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Grumpy and sad

I am close to caught up on all sorts of little homework stuff but I had a colleague from another department come in my office to ask if me leaving was true. Yup, it is. So we talked about it for a bit and some random stuff and how this might impact my colleague (I am a tiny bit annoyed that this was the major focus of the conversation) and then I just wasn't in the mood to work in my office any more, so I went home. Now I'm back to going through a whole bunch of feelings I had been avoiding for a while and I don't feel like working or doing much of anything. And I definitely don't feel like doing any job search related stuff in this mood. They say that once you have been non-renewed or put on a terminal contract, you should put only the bare minimum into your teaching and focus all that extra energy into job searching or making yourself into a better candidate, but that only works if you don't hyperventilate and freak out whenever confronting the job market stuff again. Ugh. Bleah.

Thing is, I have fewer courses this semester because I have been consistently overloaded previous semesters, (yeah that's not a problem when dealing with new faculty) and my students have been dropping like flies (another sign of being a crappy teacher?) so in a weird way I actually have lots of time. But no motivation to do crappy stuff, whether it be job apps or grading homework, and no usefulness to getting to know this region or meet people or get involved in stuff ... So I have been playing a lot of silly cheap computer games lately. Not really the kind of grand activity you remember with fondness when you look back over your life, but, sigh.

So, yeah. Add "bored" to that list of grumpy and sad. Thanks a lot, colleague! I had managed to compartmentalize enough to get through all my crap in a fairly good mood. Now I've got to build all those defenses up again.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I'm hoping this is a good omen

Regular readers will know that my spirit animal of a sorts, or more precisely, of that one article I had tried to write, is the ugly, ungainly, endangered-but-still-kicking, badass-nine-foot-wingspanned California Condor:



(come on, you wish you could do that.)



In some good news, not only have some of the condors managed to hatch their own chicks, but one pair managed to go off into the inaccessible wilderness and hatch and fully raise a chick without any of the scientists who were supposed to be helping them finding out. So maybe they are not so stupid and endangered after all.


http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Surprise-Two-California-condors-secretly-mate-6003153.php


They're still as ugly as all shit though. ... I like that.


I just watched a PBS documentary all about owls, and they're pretty cool, with their long wings and ability to fly silently. Still, if I could have my pick, I'd rather go with condors --- or at least with turkey vultures. There's something about watching them slowly swing around the sky on thermals that makes me happy. And reminds me of the golden grassy California hills growing up.

Lotsa radio silence over here ... I missed a handful of my last CC deadlines and I'm waiting for all the stuff I recently sent out. I got rejected for Santa Monica CC, which sucks because a school with a really high transfer rate sounds like it would be a better fit for me. I don't think I'm giving anything away with that one ... they probably got hundreds of applications and also rejected hundreds of people, so no loss of anonymity there, I think. But it also seems like the "season" of job deadlines is drying up and I am getting increasingly anxious and freaked out....

Anyway, you need another condor pic. I need to get my mind of things that aren't condors:


Bundled up for winter, eh. Love the scarf!

You know, they look like the Skexis from The Dark Crystal, after having the crap beaten out of them. How can you not love that?

Monday, March 9, 2015

My weekend

I soooo did not need the nosy retired neighbor-lady who dresses like Paris Hilton to give me an in-depth summary of Fifty Shades of Gray. Or need to know her take on all the various details. Or how she reconciled going to watch that film with her very conservative Christian beliefs. Or, especially or, how the film has subsequently impacted her fantasies. Yeah.

Hey hot guys living down the street! Don't be worried about the rattlesnakes around here ---- keep an eye out for the cougars!

I'm serious. Run.

Monday, March 2, 2015

It's a third of the way through the semester, so it must be time for me to be frustrated...

Arrgh. I do not know, people. I somehow manage to be massively frightening and intimidating to large numbers of my students here (or they are just always looking silent and scared and dumbstruck) and at the same time I get tons of disrespectful, boundary-pushing behavior from others. My "actual" class persona is only slightly silly and fairly brisk and clipped, so in response to student freakouts and that terrified look on their faces I dial it back, way back, and go way way against my usual style to be as inoffensive and unintimidating as possible. I'm sure that this reads to some other students as "pushover" or lacking in authority and they take my fairly lax classroom rules and discipline as an invitation to start pushing back on me about what's acceptable. It seems to consistently happen at about the same time in the semester every time too --- which is when this place does student evaluations (sooo bizarrely early!) and that is just extra sucky for me.

I know what has happened in previous semesters that is bad (here is me trying desperately to learn and improve from this whole getting non-renewed thing): I get frustrated, I stew and obsess over these disrepectful behaviors and replay them endlessly in my head at home, and then I get touchy and prickly and pushback or lash out in the classroom --- sometimes as part of stopping the offenders, sometimes at other people --- and then the terrified students get even more terrified as my more snarky or abrupt side comes out.

Ok, hmm, so how do I replace this cycle with something better and nip it in the bud? I've got my mantras and I'll write me even more mantras ---- I wrote a post for you about my plan to use mantras, right? ---- anyway, I'm going to do my student conferences with the freshman comp class and try to get them to talk as much as possible and seem very very unintimidating (I hate days of small talk while trapped in my office! Aaaaaaaaah!) and maybe even tell some of my quietest froshcomp students that I would love for them to speak up in class more.

My developmental class I'm not going to do conferences with yet because they are really surprisingly into me and the class (but I have shared a lot more of my movie/free time/life preferences) ---- with the exception of the two guys who showed up totally high that one day (and these are the two who were repeating everything I said in a mocking "quit hitting yourself" tone of voice at the end of class --- these two inspired this post). Totally High Guys --- I think I'm going to send an email to Coach. I may even kick them out of the class, but that's always hard when people are looking to skate right along the edge of what is acceptable and not get caught. I kinda need to have a script or mantra for that kind of situation and whatever I prepare doesn't ever fit the actual situation as it arises. I'm definitely one of those people who comes up with the "perfect" (pedagogically speaking) retort two days later after stewing about it, and who comes up with the Worst.Possible.Response.Ever (in terms of being really harsh, funny, and often obscene) as something completely unthought that just pops right out of my mouth unexpectedly. Sigh.

The other class ---uhhhh, the other class. It seems to be going so well, compared to froshcomp. We have had several really really good discussion class sessions where a fairly large chunk of the class just ran away with the show and I wrote stuff on the board ---- and there are still a few very quiet people who don't really participate, but I think even most of them spoke up once or twice. But we just did peer reviews and I had a student who was doing this weird thing being simultaneously really flattering and saying zie really really wanted an A on this paper and kept asking what grade I would give this paper at this time ---- um, no. No. That is not appropriate behavior to even ask or demand a grade once, and you did it for like ten minutes. Now if I had said, stop it, this isn't professional behavior, or does that tactic work on any of your other teachers? I might have cut this off, but --- see above about trying to throttle any responses that seem too intimidating or might scare away students. Which means that, since I don't have a supportive and pedagogically-appropriate mantra lined up for this unforseen situation, and since my knee jerk response in my head was Really?!? Quit it. Grow up., I was kinda left doing this glassy-eyed head nod and "ok, but... ok, but..." inarticulate thing. 

Sigh. This is tough. I need a drink. And maybe to punch someone.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

50 Shades of Tenure Track Employment

Come in, Mr. Grey. Please, hand over the folio and all the application materials, that's a dear. No, no, don't sit down quite yet. I see you wore the suit as delineated in the advertisement; good, but you won't be needing that, not where you're going. Right this way. Oh, and put this on. Buckle this, strap this a little tighter. I need to assess you, evaluate you. I need your statement of research plans, prospective timeline of research productivity, all seventeen supplemental documents, your publications, your book contract, a big. fat. grant.  I hope you anticipated our needs, our fit, and made all tailored and tidy each response just. exactly. so. Your CV says you've been out of grad school for a while and there are so many ---- we have such a backlog of applicants. I hope you wow me. You need to impress, to stand out from the pack.

Before we begin, take this, and this, and you might want to spread this out on the floor before we --- ah, what's that? Safe word? Safe word? My dear, someone with your education and for this type of employment shouldn't even need to ask for a safe word ---- if you are the right kind of person for this position, you should already know it! Really, all we ask of you is that you embody all of the risk and instability and provide incredibly detailed and complex human resource materials for the benefit of our flexibility in a changing marketplace! Is that such a burden? If we had wanted anything less we wouldn't have included "pushy bottom" in the job ad, no?

Besides, you are special --- you have to stop thinking of yourself as a worker applying for a job like any other kind of worker in the labor market --- teacher, firefighter, office manager IT professional fast food line cook --- sure, they are all seeking employment that will provide them with a steady, liveable wage and safety net against uncertainty, and sure, they are all being pitted against each other in harsh competition and job de-skilling that is steadily eroding wages and job satisfaction, and sure, the decline of unions and worker solidarity across almost all jobs means that all of them are willing to undercut themselves in the hopes of winning job security just exactly like you are doing now --- but there is one very very important difference between them, sir, and you, sir. Want to know it? Want to hear what it is? Lean over to me, as far as you can against the restraints, and I'll whisper it in your ear.

Are you ready? Listen then:

You. Are. Worthless! You don't deserve reward, you deserve this! Don't believe me? Think back on what your professors used to say, what your advisor used to say, what your reviewers and student evaluations used to say. Don't they all agree with me? Are you not met with crushing rejection and disdain at every turn? Look at you --- you're an adjunct! We pay you shit, therefore you deserve only shit, therefore we pay you shit! You are only worthy to grovel!

But ... if you can show me that you really, really, understand this and properly punish yourself, I just might reward you. Can you take it? Can you take it even harder, and longer, and scrape together funds to endure one more year, one more round, one more set of interviews, one more cross-country trip for a one-year sabbatical replacement? Can you publish more than the rest of the VAPs, do more service, more teaching, more innovation, more reading my mind? Show me you've got what it takes --- I want you to push your own fist up your own asshole so far that you pass out, and while you do that, you smile!

Oh, what's this, tears, sweet sweet tears? Are you broken so easily and so soon, my pet? A pity. You know, if you can outlast these trials, the rewards are vast ... I might even allow you to be the one wielding the riding crop when we break in the next generation of acolytes. Would you like that? To show them how it's done? To continue the tradition? I have some forms for you to sign. You'll have to sign everything. But really I need just one thing: total submission. In your mind. You have to acquiesce to the whole system. Believe it, heart and soul. Believe there is no alternative, no other way. Believe it.

Ho hum, well, it was a pleasure, I'm sure --- I'll just take these forms and you can work your own way out of the restraints and find your own way back to the front. I think this went well --- didn't this go well? Our timeline is usually two weeks but with the break, of course, it might be closer to three ... if you end up being one of our finalists you just may get a call for a campus visit! Ta ta!