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!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hello, I should be working

but today I did a lot of planning out the next essay sequence (I'm about to get a batch of essays) and worked hard all the way past 2pm, which is my naptime, and then I did a bunch of errands and bought chips and salsa and threw approximately 80 billion loads of laundry into the machines.

So yes, I really should be doing something work-related while waiting for the laundry to be done, but damn, I have actually done some work. Let me bitch and complain instead.

I have a huge pile of homework to get through for my comp class, but I am somewhat frustrated with them already, so it is easy to procrastinate on the pile. I have quite a few clockwatchers in that class --- people who literally pack up everything and have their homework out on the desk with 20 minutes to go and they are not actually sitting in the chair but in a squat hovering above it. Stop, people! These are pretty much the same people who roll in late too. Let me guess, if I were to look up who said they are retaking this class from last semester, who would it be?

My new prep class is sweet and basically getting it and behaving like actual students for the most part ... oh yeah, I need some more funny examples of logical fallacies, if you have been watching any tv commercials lately. Pass them along! The other new class, the developmental* one, is pretty good and most of them say they want to succeed at everything but we are starting to see a divide between those who say that and those who truly believe it. Someone was just talking about those people who say they will "do whatever it takes" to make things right after making a mistake or otherwise screwing up; well, for some people that is a promise and it gets followed up by specific suggestions of what they will do, and for others that phrase is actually code and translated it just means "I'm sorry; my bad" and they don't actually mean they will do anything. Kinda like how "hey, how are you?" doesn't really mean that the other person wants to know a story. It's code.

Ugh. I am so tired. Please do all my grading and get the laundry for me. I've got naps to take and chips and salsa to eat instead.

*I know, I know! "Remedial" is no longer allowed and "developmental" is a dirty word and we are talking about removing "basic writing" as a descriptor and only talking about "noncredit" instead, but I have to call it something in writing!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah well ok that's nice


You know how, I was all, depressed and sad and freaking out about becoming unemployed and starving to death over winter break? And how I went on to NORCAL HERC and SOCAL HERC and just started slamming out applications to absolutely everything?

I guess that paid off... how nice!

Except, no, now I get to go bomb an interview I'm totally not qualified for. Like, if I had applied to be financial program director for some interdisciplinary center, I could probably learn that stuff on the job, right, but this thing is more like financial program director for an accounting program and they would like me to split the time between administrating and teaching and you know I don't have any degrees anywhere related to the field, right? Do I tell them I don't know math??? 

Hmm. I guess it was an honor just to be nominated. (What were you thinking???)

Friday, February 6, 2015

You've got to be kidding me

How pissed I am says something about how much the application process has changed in the last five-seven years: I have two community college jobs that actually insist on mailed, paper applications! Arrrgh!

It has become so common for places to use stupid online applications and the stupidhead Chronicle Vitae program (which fills in all your stuff into the questionnaire slots for you, but often puts them in all the wrong slots, which is actually more time consuming, thanks), or the portal, that I am completely taken by surprise by this development. I am grumpy and lazy: I ask myself, do I want to bother getting all this shit together and emergency mailing it out? Meh. I am out of sorts.

Also, I still find it weird that some cc places insist I upload my own letters of recommendation: How do you trust that I haven't altered anything in the application? I mean, you're the ones insisting the letter be from this academic year, and yet it would be so easy for your applicants to update the date (or change less-flattering information) if you insist the applicant upload it him or herself. And yet nonconfidential letters are more common than confidential ones at the cc level. Huh.

And in closing: grrr. argh.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


I have some good news on the Operation Dig Out of Hole front: I have now paid off my credit cards.* Sure, I have about 4 bucks in the checking account til the end of the next month, but at the end of that time, I will only have to pay off my current expenses and could finally have some money left over!

Great. This means that I will be able to save up some moving money between now and when I slink home in unemployment shame because I can't seem to hold down a job. Sob.

And in news related to that, I have done up 2 applications so far this morning, but it looks like Feb is the big due date for when all the cc applications have to be in, so I need to go pull and prep even more and more to get ahead on my pile before the papers start rolling in. Sigh. I already have lots of homework and in-class writing piled up that I need to evaluate and comment on, so I'll be doing a different kind of digging out soon.

*Don't ask about the student loans. Really.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Completely Random Bullets of Crap and I Forgot What I Was Just Doing

  • Hmm, there's something I was supposed to look up/do online just now, but I have already forgotten what it is, so I opened up blogger. Here I am! I hope I jog my memory loose.
  • So far today I have done 3 cc apps, which is good, and will probably try to get ahead on some more. Unfortunately, the next one due (soon!) has a crapload of special attachments I have to create from scratch and I have no desire whatsoever to create new and exiting sample teaching materials. I have lots of new teaching materials to prepare for my actual courses this semester!
  • Also on my list of things to do this weekend is everything I absolutely hate doing, like read my student evals from last semester (shudder) and clean out the inbox and voicemail for my office phone. And clean the apartment up a bit more. Oh, the to-do list is waaaaaay longer than that but the jobs/evals/emails are what always turn my stomach in knots.
  • Classes look cautiously ok so far but interestingly several of the students who made the most interesting and useful comments in class have already mentioned they are not from the area. As in, "When I used to live in _____ City [not so far from where I grew up] they would talk about this issue in the news and [make some sort of brilliant and insightful analysis of their own here]." Interesting. Meanwhile in the course of our first-day brainstorming about which type of media do they think has the most influence on us today, several of the other students have already said that coming up with a list of different kinds of media that exist is "too hard." Mind you, "television" was already up on the board. It's an interesting little data point about "fit," I think. I need to get me back to a city! And I would love to see what sort of curriculum is going on in our local and regional high schools. I mean, I probably wouldn't. But it is so strange to me that I can bring in activities and assignments that people are clearly using all over the place and at the community college level and something is "off" about how they work here.
  • I have two new to me classes to prep from the ground up this semester ---- I mean, I've mostly prepped them, but I'm back in that lovely place where I get up in the morning and go, "oh yeah, I have a vague idea about what we should cover in our second class meeting but haven't actually planned the details of class or figured out how long any activities will take arrrgh!" This will be fun. Another reason why I need to get all my job apps out at the very beginning of the semester.
  • It is sunny out so I want to make sure I go outside today and take a nice walk somewhere. I have been bad about doing that, post-tenure meeting. The problem is that, while disengaging is good, I haven't been using that freed-up time to get my apps out and move on. And the lead time/waiting time is sooooo long! I am ready to pack and run away from everything now, not months from now.
  • Ooh speaking of, I had to do a lot more of the "process" things associated with getting non-renewed or whatever. I'm not going to put any of the details here, cause now I'm freaked out about what one is supposed to do ---- but really, this is not a process I am familiar with nor one that gets written up in the academic "how to" blogs or The Chronicle or whatnot. I don't know what I am supposed to be doing or what the "right" way to get fired is! And clearly there are the written policy ways and there are the "real" ways and right things to do, none of which are written down anywhere. 
  • Did mention that 3 students have already stopped by ---- it wasn't my office hours but I happened to be in the office with the door open ---- to get help? On the one hand, that is great for my confidence and my sense of being a good teacher that they feel comfortable seeking me out with a problem. On the other hand, all three were very technical tech problems, so I got to learn all about tablets and our wifi and help them and call our campus IT people and try to get through, which isn't something I particularly want to do for myself. But, you know, maybe if I mention it in class at the right moment I can turn around a discussion or influence the evals. We'll see.
  • I suppose I should go work more. Sigh. Or clean the bathroom. Double sigh. Or mend that stupid hole up by the waistband of those pants on top of that pile there. Triple sigh. Or I could post this and then take a nap

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

I continue to be alive

Well I was very sad back during the break when I went and looked at my enrollment --- it was low and several of my full-time colleagues had packed classes with wait lists. Word is getting around about me, I thought. And from talking to colleagues, at least two of them have a different idea of how to grade passing (As vs Cs) than I do, so that might explain the wait lists. But then when I got back here I saw lots of "help wanted" signs at fast food places and bed bath and beyond and other retail stuff, and then got some emails about enrollment being low and we should try to squeeze in as many students as possible to hit our targets. I went back through the department numbers and there are still quite a few classes with lower enrollment than mine, which, it may sound silly but, it made me feel a little better. And the person on my tenure committee who I find a little bit too reserved and a bit confusing has had a couple classes closed for low enrollment. Haha! I think to myself, you can make those complaints about me but students seem to react that way to you too! You just managed to squeak through to tenure. But then I think, eh, that must mean there really is some sort of basis to the complaints and there is something wrong with my teaching. Sigh.

Anyway, I didn't get any last minute changes, which is good, and the colleague had to take over a couple classes away from an adjunct, which is bad, and plus those students might be really screwed over by their class getting cancelled if their schedule is super packed. I don't even get good schadenfreude.

As long as I am whining I am going to complain about Socal colleague who got hired with me, who doesn't seem to have any problems with her student evals and who I guess hasn't had any problems whatsoever with her tenure process, despite doing a fair number of things in class that I think are pretty inappropriate. Although the getting mad at her students and yelling at them is totally understandable. No, they want to keep that person, who hates this place and hasn't made any attempt to like it or not talk shit about it and who just went in and asked for a letter of recommendation and is doing a full-bore job search back closer to her home ---- which totally shoeked our boss ---- and they got rid of me, who has been really trying hard to bloom where I've been planted. Sigh. Maybe Socal colleague is a better teacher. Grumble grumble grumble it's not fair.

This weekend I need to crank through all those job applications. And touch something lucky. Jeezus, what if I don't land anything and I have to tell everybody? I hate being so anxious; I don't think I can handle this long a timeline for anxiety.