Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I'm Bored.

And going stir crazy. Whyyyyy is there no one around to talk to these days? Mreh! My sister's not answering her phone. Pthththtthtpt.

I sent out some more applications, and of course, I could send out still more applications. Eh. I'm so over this stuff. The problem with applying to jobs is that then you want them. You don't want those stinky other jobs over there you have yet to apply to; you want to be instantaneously hired so that you don't have to do this stupid job applicating stuff and you can have one of these nice lovely jobs you have already researched and become invested in. Look, Craigslist says there are cheap little places that look nice over here! Clearly you must call me right now, interviewers, and tell me that I already have the job and that neighborhood x is better than neighborhood y, even though y has more places with picture listings.

Of course I know that I have to keep sending out stuff until I get something, because search committees don't actually work the way I have described above. One of the job books I read (on how to get a teaching job, but NCLB has basically made that impossible even for an emergency appointment without a credential) talked about the "interview funnel," where if you don't keep pouring job applications in the one end, you won't have interviews continue to trickle out the other end. Unfortunately I must have a defective funnel, for all that the applying to stuff is working for me.

Anyway, in the realm of depressing job-search-related crap I didn't need to hear about, here's a post by Dr. Isis on how she had an inside candidate and couldn't tell the pool of applicants. The economy is hurtin' people in the science and medical fields, too, Isis learned, and people with amazing credentials applied even though it was a temp. position. It was depressing all around, because the applicants thought they had a chance, when really, it was that Isis wanted to give more hours to someone and had to openly advertise the position to follow regulations. Sucks. And it brings up the question of how many jobs that get advertised are really viable jobs you're actually competing for, anyway?

In my various attempts to apply to college admin type positions, I saw Stanford did a very interesting thing: on one job description it said "this position has a strong inside candidate and prospective candidates are advised to be aware of this when they apply." Or some bureaucratic phrasing crap like that. This made me so thrilled! Imagine if this was acceptable practice everywhere! Ahhh, it would help so much with my stress levels. I didn't apply to that one, because there's no way they would take a "career changer" over their inside candidate, but if I felt I had the most amazing resume in that field ever, I'd slap my app down to compete with the best of 'em. And I sure wouldn't let that stop me if it was a professor type job in my field. But it's nice to know, you know?

And relatedly, California's unemployment rate is still at 12.5%, while in business, tiny companies are able to scoop up candidates far more qualified than they should be getting. People who ran multi-state or multi-national companies are now getting pulled into stuff barely a step above mom-and-pops, but "they're happy they at least have a job."

Ugh. It's a bad time to be retraining. I've been peeking around to see if moving into a multi-bedroom place with roommates and sticking at my part time jobs a while longer might be an option, but rent is the one place that's not budging these days. Ah, fucking houseflippers who are now trying to rent out their white elephants for 6 grand a month, you're fucking it all up for the rest of us!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Things you don't want to hear at the vet...

"Oh dear, I've expressed your cat's anal gland juices all over your purse."


My silly and annoying little cat has been "scooting" his butt on my carpet intermittently for the past few days. Also yecch! When I called the office, they said, have you seen worms in his feces?" Ewwww, no: yecchh! So I made an appointment to bring him in and have the vet deal with him.

Luckily, or perhaps strangely, nothing was wrong --- no redness, no infection, no mites or worms or fleas. And she said he was "full," but not "impacted," so he might have solved or partially solved whatever was bothering him on his own with the scooting. Scooting, yecch!

Oh, he meowed and meowed when we were in the waiting room this morning. At least the vet showered him with the luvs while we were there (not that poor little Loquito was happy about it ---- many other unpleasant things happened in there!).The vet cooed about how big and heavy he was, but not at all fat, and said many things in a silly voice about his cuteness, his adorable soft coat, and how she would just take him home herownself if she had half a chance. Heh. And hey, since nobody was prodding at my butt, I thought it was a good visit.

I read on the internet, though, that in older cats this becomes a problem and sometimes you have to take the cat in to the vet regularly to be "expressed" or learn how to do it at home. Yecch! Listen, Mr: you can just express yourself as far as I'm concerned! And you better start looking for a job too, if you're going to need extra vet visits regularly --- to say nothing of paying to have the carpet cleaned occasionally!

Speaking of looking for jobs, I have uploaded/sent/emailed about 6 jobs, so I'm now going to celebrate by folding my laundry and taking a nap. Who knows, maybe I'll have a bidding war over me by the time I wake up. Or at the very least, I can awaken with the knowledge that my cat isn't swabbing his but all over everything.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Not much, how are you?

Today I finally made a pilgrimage to Target. Unfortunately I was not impressed by the Liberty for Target collection --- the amount of stuff at my store was very small and kinda dumped in a corner somewhere. There was only one of the peacock pillows, no blanket or duvet in that pattern, and I didn't like it as much in person.

Plus, the big jumble of riotous prints reminded me of my late-70s early childhood in the house of my "I don't know what psychedelics are, but big clashy prints just get even more cheerful when you put them next to each other!" mom.

(My favorite picture of all of mine is from when I'm a little toddler in the house I was born in. I think mom decorated it at the height of the "giant psychedelic mushrooms with faces" wallpaper craze. I will bring it back here and upload it for you some time.)

So, no print stuff, but I bought a bunch of t-shirts and stuff I can't really afford ... I gotta toss some of my beloved-but-ratty Ts anyway. The patterned blouses and dresses won't work in my workplace with the arctic-level air conditioning, and they were all a bit too patterny for my taste. I like bright colors, or weird pops of color with accessories (shoes!), but wild patterns bring me flashbacks of my mom. Or, really, present-day images of my mom. I just can't handle that. Maybe someday when I have money I will be more experimental in dress.

I had to buy a new floor lamp, as the old one must have a short and it will only turn on sometimes after a lot of thwacking and jiggling the knob. Buying a something as boring as new lamp to replace an old one has to be the epitome of replacement shopping, eh? It doesn't really add any snazzy new decorating look to the room (which needs some wall art or something), just makes it so I don't go blind trying to read by the flickers of my computer screen. At least it works.

But I got a lot done today after the shopping ---- shredding last year's essays and cleaning the living room and the catbox and cubic fuckloads of dishes and getting groceries and a half a dozen other errands and then I made a nice simple little dinner and all. Not very exciting, but pretty necessary.

It remains to be seen whether I tackle the other half of my to-do list tomorrow and go back to working on the job apps or play hooky and go outside somewhere. I have to hunt up quarters and scale mountains of laundry, among other things.

Anyway, my cat is pestering me again, so that must mean I should close this post with a cat picture:

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Leaving Iron Island

I watched a movie tonight! Shocking. (It's just my pattern that I put all sorts of depressing and/or artsy movies on my queue and then don't feel like I have the stamina to face them after working, and then they sit there near the tv as the Big Art Movie Pile Of Guilt.) It was an Iranian film, Iron Island. I liked it. (Just to get that part of the movie review out of the way.)

Iron Island is a fairly light film, portraying the everyday lives of a group of poor Iranians who are basically squatting, living on an abandoned oil tanker. Not much explanation is given for how it got there or how they got there, but the reason they can live there is through the strong will of "Captain" Nemat, who runs the complex economy of the whole ship. Everyone who moves on to the ship does work for the community, whether it is baking bread, or sewing burqas, or sawing off bits of the ship to sell for scrap metal, and everyone pays Captain Nemat for their space on the ship and the resources they use.

It's a tough environment to live in --- everything from food to lamp oil must be brought on board, and despite one tiny scene of an older man watering some spindly shoots growing from a box bed filled with earth, you can't really grow anything or make anything in this economy. This makes it an economy that is both utterly dependent and fragile, but also thriving and with unexpected richness in places. One boy, Ahmad, who becomes a central character, earns his living by keeping the one cell phone working and dialing it for the residents, predominantly women who are calling their husbands and other male family members wherever they are off looking for work or sending back money.

It's also a tremendously isolating place --- there are wonderful profile shots of the tanker, immense and high up in the water, and yet dwarfed by the scale of the sea around it. On board, the teacher, who has set up a makeshift schoolroom by using homemade chalk on the walls, leads his students through a dictation exercise: the sea is immense and the boat is on the sea. We are on the boat which is in the middle of the sea. The sea is beautiful. (I don't remember the exact subtitles.)

One little girl excitedly asks, "Teacher, where is the world?" We are in the world, the teacher responds. "Well, where are we in the world? she asks again. Later the Captain gives the schoolteacher some newspapers he has requested, but they turn out to be quite old. The children use them to practice reading out loud, their phrasings about "we are phenomena and we exist in a world full of phenomena" almost as absurdist as the teacher's dictation exercises. In another scene teenage boys pay money to sneak into an improvised illegal cinema; the fare is German-language infomercials, picked up by a jerry-rigged satellite dish. Someone manages to pick up a music station with someone singing in Arabic (what I assumed was unsubtitled Arabic), but all too soon a crisis on the boat forces them to leave, their bootleg technology left exposed and soon destroyed by the Captain.

A motionless ship with a sputtering economy and its young residents hungering for contact with the outside world ---- sound like a political allegory yet? Further adding to the theme of entrapment is the Fish Boy, who is obsessed with netting fish in the flooded bottom of the hold. "They get in there, from a hole down below, and then they can't swim back out," he explains to Ahmad, and we see him take buckets of fish up top and gently toss them, one by one, over the side.

But the boat-villagers do leave, and far before the end of the film. Are they being forced out, as the authorities have tried multiple times? Or is the Captain finally heeding the warnings of the schoolteacher that the tanker has been slowly sinking for years now? Is he legitimately caring for the villagers in organizing their resistance against the evacuating forces, or is he using them to drive up the price of the boat? And is he a benevolent community leader, or an exploiter? None of these ever really become clear, and I couldn't tell whether Nemat's plan of finding the entire village land and a permanent home turned out to be madness or a sign of hope.

There's a scene where Nemat punishes --- nay, tortures --- Ahmad that reminded me exactly of George Orwell's "Shooting an Elephant." Does he hate to do this and feel forced to by the watching eyes of the entire boat? Does he want to make this punishment? Is this part of his plan to consolidate his power and continue to rule over the village once they are all on land? Or is this the act of someone who can't think of any other actions to take? Like I said, I can't tell whether the film's ending was meant to be a happy one or not, but it had lovely images and framing, and closes not with the villagers but a gorgeous and peaceful shot of the sea.

Application Break

Ok, I sent off four more apps this morning and have about an hour before I have to go to work. So I'm taking a break. Neener neener. All you people who laughed at my car trials and tribulations should be ashamed of yourselves: I got a parking ticket. Sigh. That job only has pay parking or reserved permits near it, so usually I take the bus down there. But I was running late trying to buy milk and cat food and all sorts of other things the other morning so when I put everything away I had to run for the car instead of the bus. Then, because I bought a one-day permit, the parking people got me the next morning. Argh.

Anywhoo, I'm pluggin' away at various applications these days --- while I was grading and finishing classes and all that other stuff, some more tt jobs came up on the chronicle, so I have a little pile of those to whip through. They are definitely the "second-tier" jobs, and I am sure they know that. 4-4s of only comp at a teeny tiny college that has to describe the number of hours driving distance to a minor city, that's second tier.

My dept. has only placed a couple people in postdocs this year (and one weird, overseas teaching position), but I think all the people who are still enrolled have given up for the year, as have a lot of the recent grads who have some sort of steady income. I'm hoping that this the case all over, and the pools for these late blooming jobs are smaller. Considering how crappy the market was this year, I'm doubtful. But, hey, I'm getting through these apps pretty fast, so whatever. Hopefully they will be trying to take advantage of their purchasing power in this bad market and I will look like a feasible choice rather than a flight risk.

After I catch up on these academic jobs and hit up some more contract teaching jobs, it's back to the admin postings, although I haven't had any signs of luck in them yet. And then, when I catch up on those, I get to venture back out into the scary wilds of craigslist. Sigh. I pretty much *don't* want anything that is showing up locally on craigslist. I will move back in with my family and search over there for openings at slightly larger companies. I think I would go crazy in these weird incestuous tiny 3-people office situations I've seen. And the only thing I've found worse than having too much to do in a tiny office is to have *nothing* to do, but having to look busy because otherwise they will eliminate your position. It's a particular mind-numbing stress.

And I happened to run into the department staff lady who offered me my course again next year (discussed in my previous "beige" post). She said I got good evaluations again and asked what else I can teach. So we went into her office and looked through the course catalog. I dunno --- I can do comm-type stuff, and I've TAd in social science departments, but where they have holes and where I have expertise don't really match up. Still, she said I should contact the dept. chair about Y and Z because the chair might be able to move things around. And if I fill all the curricular holes next year (about 3 or 4 classes) this department won't even run a call for lecturers. *That's* what I mean about beige. It's about having a flexible go-to person that saves the department effort, not so much about my lack of qualifications or my desperation. If you've ever looked on the course listings and wondered why the hell *that* adjunct is there (or still there, despite being a crappy teacher), "beige" is the answer. It frees up the dept. to work on other, more critical, crises.

So, hunting for enough classes to fill a year next year will be my back up plan. I'm not allowing myself to do any work towards it at the moment; must first apply to all the permanent stuff and then I can eat the dessert. If it comes to that, I'll try hitting up the local CCs to get a comp class or two to balance it out ---- I'm wondering if having only very old comp teaching experience is hurting me on the resume.

Oops gotta go.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dude, Where's My Car?

I just realized that my car is still at work and I took the bus home yesterday. This fact was impressed upon me when I went outside to try and drive to my pilates class.

*smacks forehead* Doi!!!!!

You yutz.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I should be grading. Thphphphphphpht!

I just got off work and wolfed down some leftovers. I should return to my grading and finish it off and start tallying up all the numbers and things. Pffffft! My brain is melted. All I want to do is look at shiny things.Therefore, since I'm admiring various shoes on zappos (no money to buy them though), I should post some of the pics I like. Shoeblogging! Mmm.This is cute.
This is interesting. I like the side stuff but not the bar across the top.Ohhhh why do I not own bright carrot orange patent heels??? Fabulous. I hope it's metallic like the glossy paint on lowriders with the little flecks of gold in it. While I'm at it, I want a carrot orange lowrider with bright gold flames, too. (What? I never said I was subtle in my style!)

Hmm ordinarily I would have said these were cute shoes but coming directly after the neon orange marvelousness I find myself saying, "Woman, what foolishness is this? Your lower extremities exist for displaying bling! The clothing part of your wardrobe is always very safe and boring --- don't consign your feet to the same forgetableness!" Evidently I now talk to myself about my fantasy shoe purchases.
Ummm no.
I like this, even though with my short feet peep-toes don't really work on me. I usually look toeless, and the effect is kinda creepy, like an amputee.

Also interesting.These are also suitably different and weird.
Squiggly things!

Do I like these? Please advise.
As long as I'm looking at shoes but not having to figure out how to stand and walk for long periods in them, I may as well check out these.

Well, thoughts?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Grading Frenzy!

I was mostly good yesterday, and have been quite good in tackling my grading today. This morning I walked down through the fog (haze, really) to a coffeeshop and graded a bunch of essays while slurping coffee after coffee, until, too jittery to hold still, I walked all the way back to my apartment.

This is my ideal work structure --- the fresh morning air wakes me up, the coffee is tasty and pleasant, and when I've had so much caffeine that I can't hold still to pay attention, I give my self a break by walking home, and maybe doing some cleaning or dishes. Then I'm nice and tired out and ready to hold still and (hopefully) focus on papers yet again.

I'm having troubles this time around because I decided to let my students email their research papers to me, which means I am grading on the computer. That wouldn't be so bad in and of itself --- I need to take sanity breaks anyway so the fact that I'm reading a lot on screen isn't annoying me too much --- but I'm finding it difficult because I grade so relationally.

How can I be sure I am grading fairly without referring back and forth amongst my papers? I usually make a running commentary down the margins of a paper and then write maybe a sentence or so as an end comment, and the types of comments I make help me arrive at the grade. But I also only mark the letter grade in pencil the first time around, and pile all the papers in separate stacks based on what is wrong with them. If all of the "half-digested, unexplained quotes" papers are about the same quality, they should get the same grade. Likewise the ramblers who are repeating rather than deepening their argument. And what do you do with the ones who just go off and pontificate about life for a few paragraphs with nothing related to the course in sight? (Surprisingly, I already have two of those today.)

After I have worked my way through them all I re-skim the piles and my comments, just checking to make sure papers with similar comments and similar qualities have the same letter. Usually they match up pretty well, but I like to check and be sure. And while I'm at it I tally up the grades on a graph to see if I have a rough bell curve and consider pushing things around a bit to make it more of a bell --- depending on the group of students I have, this either means I am merciful and lenient to a bunch of Cs or go back and re-evaluate more stringently when it appears I have lots of As.

But I find that when I am opening files on a computer --- even though I am taking a single line of notes on a sheet of paper for all the papers --- I'm really having trouble remembering one paper to the next or how they stack up against each other. It may seem unfair to grade students against each other but really it is because I know myself. My first couple papers tend to get higher grades than the rest, and the last couple graded on any given day tend to get slammed because I am cranky. When I first start out on a pile, I always react like "OMG you had an idea brilliant!!!!!" but by halfway through the stack I discover that most of the papers have about four ideas that I like and really that first grade needs to be re-evaluated.

(you know, I feel like I wrote exactly this same post about a year ago? Maybe I did. Whatever.)

So, in sum, I don't like the onscreen grading. The one benefit is that I won't have to store and then shred a big stack of essays, because students never come get their final papers in my experience. But I like my little habits and the system I have developed, so if I were ever to teach anything again I'd want hard copies of essays.

Now, everybody go post something interesting or update your blogs so I have something entertaining to look at when I take my next break! "Good in tackling my grading" does not mean I'm anywhere near done with today's quota.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Liberty Fabric comes to Target

Completely completely random post: some web site I read announced that Liberty of London, a famous fabric print company, is partnering with Target to bring some of their fabrics into Target's wares. They have such cool, loud, bright colored patterns and I quite love them even though most of them are florals and I don't do florals.

See, aren't they cute? I even love that bright magenta pattern, although it is amazingly loud in the actual product pictures.

Unfortunately, although they have several bedspread prints, I don't like any of them. Hey Target, are you listening? Either that blue print or the middle, peacock-esque print would look really cool as a bedding set instead of putting it on cheap melamine mugs.

I have enough mugs, thank you. Many cute ones. What I am lacking, I have just discovered, is a teal-and-metallic gold peacock feather print bedspread. Please remedy this immediately.

Ooh, I'd do up all sorts of gold accessories with a bedspread like that, and some (as long as we're fantasizing) dark honey-gold or brown furniture!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Weak Connections, Strong Networking

They say, in all those job-getting advice books, that networking is the key, and that most people find jobs through their "weak connections." I've been telling everyone for about a month now that a) I am in need of some sort of work and b) I am trying to move out of academia, and I'm actually seeing results of this tactic, with one major drawback.

First off, I will point out how extremely difficult it is for me to admit to having troubles or tell people I need help. So I am doing surprisingly well in telling people that I am in job difficulties and admitting that I am leaving academia. And friends and work colleagues are now talking to me about it and passing along little leads or articles and helping me out in all sorts of wonderful ways. But.

While I'm actually getting a lot of leads and offers, they are strictly of the temp/part time/an hour here an hour there variety. Like, go research this and do a lot of photocopying for a professor for two days, or here's someone who wants private tutoring once a week, or here's my contacts for doing editorial work for that journal when I move. And I am highly appreciative of all this help, but it is not going to get me into a full-time job.

Part of that is because my "weak network" consists of grad students and retired people who are working part time. And if I was still a grad student needing just to eke out my ta stipend, this would be just fine. But none of these things are permanent or offering very much in the way of hours, and I wonder if I take them all on I won't have time or energy to do an actual job search.

Of course, on the other hand, I'm not really getting interest in my permanent-position apps, so soon I really will be needing these types of jobs to make rent and whatnot. Well, right now I'm about to have some spare time, so I should just suck it up and try to translate as many of these into actual paying gigs as I can right now, and I can cut back later.

Another suggestion someone made to me was to try the temp agencies, so that I would have more recent administrative/clerical experience on my resume and could that might make it look more impressive when I send it out to admin/staff type jobs. And they also might be able to give useful advice about my resume and cover letter. While that may be good advice, a) I loathe the idea of meeting new people and interviewing with them and working new jobs every few days and b) I work every weekday, but part time, at my biggest part time job. So I don't know if I have the flexibility to go for that right now ---- I don't think they'd be interested in someone who could only work mornings. But they might.

Would having some more recent secretarial-type work make my resume look better? I don't know.

And another thing: I hate salary qualifications. I won't apply to anything that demands to know what my current salary is --- why should I have to embarrass myself putting down my minimum-wage jobs on your application? Why should I admit to my hourly rates and thus have you take that as the basis for this new job's wages? I don't want to lowball myself like that. And I also hate positions that don't at least give a salary range in their ad. The same ad usually does both, too. Bleah. Some of the positions are scandalously low-paid, too, like a couple for a private school in SF that were paying barely 19k for full-time work. That's not really livable in downtown SF, people. And I wouldn't have known that from the ad --- I had to poke around on other web sites first.

Let's see, what are some of the interesting postings I've found so far? Besides a call for someone to catalog and manage the Greatful Dead papers at SC, UCLA had a posting for costume shop manager for their theater and film department. How fun would that be! Of course, I have none of the proper degrees or qualifications or abilities (like being able to operate an industrial sewing machine), but it just sounds cool. I don't even picture it in terms of work, just someone standing in a costume-filled room, wearing a tiara, maybe, and saying, "dude, I'm surrounded by all these cool clothes!" Probably it's not that easy of a job, heh.

There are lots of science and medical-school type administration jobs open right now, almost all of which require a BS or medical billing experience I don' t have. And the listings are surprisingly sparse in the entry-level arena ---- The Elf Queen kinda snorted when I mentioned this and said, "yeah, they downsized all the lower-level positions in order to save their own hides during the budget cuts!" which kinda sucks for me. Now all those downsizers appear to have decamped for greener pastures, and their positions are being advertised not the opening ones, which makes it extra hard for me to break in to another field, as the Elf Queen admitted.

She agreed with me that I'm not really competitive for any positions where I'd be managing a team, as I don't have that kind of management experience, and she helped me decode the I, II, III type classifications for postings --- I was right in guessing, by salary range, where I might be able to break in or not. Likewise, all those "five years demonstrated experience" lines that want grant or fundraising or management experience kinda cut me out, so we had trouble finding jobs on the lists that I could realistically apply to, as opposed to just apply to. And she had much more advice, although some of it I had already heard.

Sigh. I don't want the old advice or info I can glean for myself off the web. I don't want to go through the work of actually applying for a job; I just want someone to hand it to me --- that's why I've been telling people everywhere, so that I can get some sort of connection or deal that will just magically land me in a job without all the tedium and hard work and scary talking to strangers stuff. I just want to magically be employed.

Preferably somewhere I can wear a tiara.

Monday, March 15, 2010

And when they're only halfway up, they're neither up nor down

Why did the grand old Duke of York march his men up and down the hill in that song, anyway? I forget; I'm sure I was told at one point. I keep thinking about this and leaving academia --- not that I'm up or down, but that I'm kinda stuck, neither in or out of it. And it's so easy to get sucked right back in.

Today I ran into a grad student who I haven't seen in quite a while. He --- let's call him Grizzly Adams, as he's got that hipster aesthetic that seems part 19th century mountain man and part crazy homeless dude --- updated me with some details on his life and asked what I had been up to since the beginning of job season. Since I was getting out some library books for editing my accepted article (learn from me, children! Double, nay, triple-check all of your references before mailing off an article and returning all the books! Especially if you haven't referenced something that may potentially need to be referenced!), I told him about that and he was suitably praise-filled and impressed.

That felt good. I'm always willing to revel in my accomplishments. And it has been long enough that I can talk about a sucky job market run without being upset about it, so I didn't need his condolences. And, really, if you're a youngster grad student and haven't become jaded by all the financial difficulties and soul-crushing job market attempts, what I've accomplished last year is pretty impressive.

So, of course Grizzly said something along the lines of "ooh, I bet you'll be positioned to look really good on the next year's job market," and instantly I was back in it --- oh yeah, next year will be my year! I will accomplish Great and Wonderful Things and truly dazzle the search committees and they will be fighting over my greatness! Truly I only need some sort of part time, stop-gap job to pay rent until I ascend into the heavens of tenure-track employment!

Yeah. Hmm. Then I remembered that Grizzly hasn't been through any job market stuff (just like he hasn't been through publishing stuff, which is why my feats sound so impressive) and he has no clue what it feels like to go through this crap for multiple years on end, barely scraping enough by to break even, and sometimes not even that (when it comes to paying for the actual job search stuff). And of course he's not graduated and facing down loan repayment.

So I said something noncommittal and asked about how his writing was coming along, and we had a very lovely "inside baseball" talk about the authors we love and the scuttlebutt about the scholars publishing on them (Grizzly Adams has always had a keen eye for who is the steward of who's papers, who edits the review and who is the big name in the field and all that --- and he keeps a running list in the back of his mind of who's screwing who and who has other types of scandalous pasts; it's quite entertaining, really). And I love that and I'm going to miss it, but I'm going to continue applying out for my new career, whatever that is.

(Note to the last few search committees: if you want to hire me, I won't complain! I'm just not waiting around for it.)

So, in sum, I'm actually in a pretty good mood. Of course, the beautiful weather and the lunch at in-n-out may be part of the reason for that, but, if a chocolate shake and burger with grilled onions is a workable alternative to therapy and medication, then so be it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

I am Beige

Got a lot of different types of emails in my in-box today: a rejection from one of the fall tt jobs (not news to me: delete), a rejection from one of the admin jobs I've applied to, a month or so ago (hmm, sigh), an email from a friend who does admin type stuff with some advice (more on that later) and potential times it would be good to confab with her (yay!), and a rejection email from one of the private-high-school recruiters, telling me that while my cv was lovely, no one was going to be hiring along my specialties this spring. Hmm.

And then I walked over to get coffee, and ran into the financial administrator for the dept, who buttonholed me on my way.

"Hey, let us know if you are interested in teaching [current course] next year, same quarter, same time!"

"Uhh, ok," I said. "I don't really know what I'm doing next year; I'm trying to get that all settled out."

"Well just send me an email and let me know if you're interested. ... Oh, and also check with [name]; there's a new regulation that the department needs to schedule 50% of its classes during "prime time" and 50% on "off hours." But lots of the profs like the early morning classes, so they may not want your slot. Just let [name] know and she will slot you in wherever works best."

"Uhh, ok," I said again.

Hmm. If I thought I could scrape up a full load of adjuncting here, this would be great. Clearly, I am beige. Or, more positively, I have my foot in the door, and they'd like to just continue with the status quo because it all runs smoothly and I do fine in my job.

I just wish I could get my foot in some other doors. Either in addition to this or instead of it. Or if I had a more solid, better-paying job to be a supplement to this one. Right now, I'm back where I was last year, with one class for the middle of the year and a gaping hole and lots of expenses on either side.

I'd move away if I had my foot in some doors somewhere else. But right now all my part time jobs are here, and I don't want to move away from those little dribbles of money for the great unknown of trying to break in somewhere else. So, I don't know.

This post is also coming from the email from an admin friend, and my preliminary research on the chronicle admin boards. I may have to start out by volunteering somewhere, which means no money, in order to get my foot in that door. Either that or take courses on the topic, which I am not interested in paying for or living through at the moment.

Gah --- it's like my academic research interests all over again: I am all over the place and not focused. I have all these tentative possibilities in all sorts of different job fields, and it looks like it will take a long time and opportunity cost to transition over into any of them. So what do I do? I have no idea. I keep knocking on random doors and other ones open, just a crack, and then I worry that this door will slam shut and prevent me from doing something else.

Edited to add: When I reread this I thought I wasn't quite clear; not everything in my head is on here. I've heard from people that "recalibrating" one's resume to fit various other jobs takes about a year of little to no income, whether it be adjuncting a lot at different levels of community college classes, to volunteering at a high school while getting some classes in to look good for the private places, to "interning" in some admin department to prove that you really want to be there and don't just need a job somewhere. I can't even pick what direction I want/need to be going in, so how can I recalibrate in multiple directions in a year?

I wish I had understood this more clearly a year ago, when I planned to do a final year on the academic market. I wish this last run on the market had gone even worse, ironically, so that I had put more time and energy into recalibrating back when I had my multiple part time jobs. I wish I had grabbed these or other part-time jobs in addition to TAing much earlier than I did. I wish my rent wasn't so damn high. Oh I wish a whole damn lot of things.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Job Eavesdropping

For this story to make sense, I have to give a little background on my office.

Now, the people I'm teaching for don't have lots of institutional power, and that is reflected in the square footage they control on campus. Thus, I get to use an office --- which I have been greatly appreciative of --- that is shared by about 4 or 5 other adjunct lecturers and is also being used to store lots of random disused office furniture. I'm not on the same floor or even the same building as either my home department or the department I am working for. And whatever, that's fine. I haven't even ever seen any of my other officemates this quarter.

Today, coincidentally, I posted my little post about job things while holding office hours after no more students showed up. I had my door open and was surfing the web, when I hear someone down the hall with hir door open, making a call. I've talked to this person maybe three or four times in the hallways; zie is very nice and seems to have a job that keeps hir stuck in this rather underpopulated hallway and kinda likes to have some human contact.

My ears pricked up, then, when I heard this person leave a voicemail message about a job posting. Hmm, I think. That might be the one on this campus I applied for. A little while later, the phone rings and I start listening in on the conversation, because this person is clearly describing the job posting as well as its current status and backstory. How could I not? I was just complaining that I know nothing about this type of job search and I feel like sending out staff/nonacademic job applications feels a lot like the black hole of academic job applications.

Now this job is a contract job --- hours, no benefits. And they only want to offer around 40 or 50% time. Frankly, I was thinking of it as a "backup" rather than a "real" job. So I was chagrined to hear this administrator type person tell the caller that they have already moved on to a first cut, but that the top candidate had bowed out already and zie was calling to let this other person know to apply.

"I've told Director X that you might be interested in the job and I can cc you both and you send in a resume to have it looked at," said the administrator person. "I also had mentioned in the initial screening that they would be more likely to get someone good and hold them if the time was bumped up and Director X is going to go to the higher ups and try to get this up to 75% time. I mean, it's not ideal, but it's a job. And you have three years experience with these contracts --- I don't think there's really any learning curve to go from NSF to this stuff."


So much for that one.

But a useful learning experience nonetheless. Clearly the networking and "secret job list" effect is much stronger on the staff side than the academic side of the university, and also, at least in this recession type time, hard experience in the field is going to trump any sort of "but I have lots of generally applicable skills!" type statements. And this job was not a particularly plum one because it is not even full time, but this little conversation is making me wonder if I know how to read these job ads and how to find the appropriate level to apply to.

I sent off a bunch of apps recently that were not for entry-level jobs, and I think I'm going to need to aim much lower on the career ladder. The thought of dropping all the way down to the lowest dept. secretarial support is humbling and annoying, partly because those jobs run about 8 bucks an hour but mostly because I was believing all the crap about my PhD having wonderful skills that I could teach people to recognize and appreciate. I think I am going to have to start over on the absolute bottom, as if I had just graduated from undergrad. And I'm wondering if anyone would even consider someone outside of the area for those types of jobs --- maybe I'm going to need to lie and use my cousins' or parents' home addresses and apply to stuff near their houses?

The good news is that rather than being depressed about this discovery, now I am seeing this as a puzzle, a tough nut to crack, and that plus my whole "fuck you I won't do what you tell me" attitude, which often extends as far as cutting off my own nose to spoil their face, will probably combine advantageously. (being given no advice whatsoever and told there was no way I was going to finish was wonderful motivation for finishing the PhD. Or at least the thought of showing everybody up was.) I like solving problems; what is this problem? what are the secret ways in? how to disguise myself as what they want?

Relatedly, while a lot of the administrative jobs sound horrible --- anything with marketing/sales type stuff, or living in the student dorms, bleah --- I'm liking the thought of these more problem-solving, analysis-oriented type jobs. I'd rather have a job that centers on solving problems or negotiating ideas or bureaucracies than a really people-intensive job, like this person working away in a random deserted wing of a building. Teaching is face-time-intensive, true, but it is also a very controlled, one-way performance that I like.

So the question is how to get this sort of experience and break in to this type of job. Especially when I'm not seeing entry level grant/analysis/coordinating/development type jobs being posted. It could just be a matter of timing? Where should I look to get the info on this type of job --- other than hiding in that wing with the door propped open?

Looooong Day

Bleah. I've already been up for a really long time, getting stuff done in time for all my jobs and things. And it's not even noon. Now I have some down time, but then I'll have to go off to another job late this afternoon, and I am already tired and grumpy.

I should be looking for jobs/applying to them/making to-do lists and career schemes, but as I said, I am tired and grumpy and don't feel like doing anything. Meh! I keep logging in to some job websites to check on the status of my applications. If the nonacademic world moves so much faster, why hasn't anyone moved my job apps from "submitted" to "processing" yet? *Pouts.*

I don't really have anything else to say. I should go off and do something now. I am going to be so glad when I go down to being practically unemployed in a few weeks. Well, that will only be relaxing for a short time before the anxiety gets overwhelming, what with the lack of a paycheck and all, but I need a rest and some time to pump out some more job apps. (Or get some freakin callbacks already!)

And go read this for an accurate feel for the inside of my brain lately. Except I can't have alcohol with this stomach medication. Double, triple meh, I say!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend Update

So although I've been going to bed ridiculously early --- like barely making it to 9:30 --- and sleeping in later on top of that, I managed to get a fair amount of stuff done today.

I made a grocery list and got groceries (before breakfast, no less! but that's what happens when you don't feel like going out for milk the night before) and spent a couple hours blazing through some short grading assignments. Then I also cleaned the bathroom and cooked a big ol' pot of gumbo.

I don't think the gumbo is going to turn out well, however, because I was going off of two different recipes from two different sources, and tossed in salt way too early in the process, so the kidney beans are still all hard. Ah well. The good news is I have something cheffed up for the week so I can grab stuff for lunch (and dinners on the late days). I chopped up a bunch of stuff for a stir-fry too, which I might make tonight so that I have so much leftovers I don't have to cook this week.

Oh, and I caught up on the dishes and sorta cleaned the kitchen. My cats are magic and can sense when I have freshly mopped the floor, so it is no longer pristine, sigh. And since I was cooking the gumbo, the stove is still filthy. And the inside of the fridge is as well. The freezer thingy has frozen down into a tiny hole, too. But those I will deal with later. Preferably much later. At least I got all the cleaning stuff and vacuum cleaner put away --- they were out in the bathroom all week, because I kept saying I was going to get to cleaning it, and instead I just constantly tripped over things and I think it made me even more depressed.

Meh. I did get some job apps off yesterday; I should work up some more today, but I also have a hundred pages of a novel to read and a lecture to prep for Monday. I need to do that first; it's making me stressed. Although, if I did a crappy job, or didn't hold class at all, what the hell would happen to me? What are they gonna do, not hire me back?

Ahahahahahahahaha! Heh.

I kill me sometimes.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is it Friday yet?

Forget that, is it retirement age time yet? I am tired of thinking about this. I'm working three jobs, for slightly less than what my old TAships pay, all part time and without benefits, and between that and transportation between them, or having random holes of half hours between them here and 45 minutes there, I just don't have the time or energy to apply to jobs.

Of course, the classes (which are the majority of my income) are going to dry up when the quarter does, so I will have far more time than I'd like, and probably not have anything lined up so quickly, so that's scary too. But I just can't make myself apply to jobs at 9 or 10 at night after working. Sure, I can find jobs, just not get the crap together and my brain sharp enough to proofread stuff before actually sending it off. So I've got like twenty browser tabs open for twenty different jobs all in different professions, and no energy to actually fill out something. Meh.

I'm definitely too tired to think tonight. Hell, I'm too tired to get off the couch tonight. Maybe I should sit here and play online blackjack to raise money.