Sunday, December 7, 2014

When "it's not us, it's you."

Le Sigh.

Ok, I am going through many many emotions about this turn of events, but I am not too sad. It is a question of fit, and I agree with that. To tell the truth, I was idly thinking about selectively applying out this year anyway, but I am also overworked and tired and trying really really hard to adjust myself to the location, community and local students --- to bloom where I'm planted. The frustrating, humiliating thing is more that they got to release me first, and I have to admit that I have failed at something, rather than I get to spring on everybody my move to someplace bigger and better (or at least better fitting me).

Oh yeah, I haven't told any family or friends yet. Sigh. It would just be better if I had been able to announce job interviews and a new position first. I might still do that.

The biggest emotion I am struggling with by far, of course, far more than anger or sadness or even relief, is PANIC PANIC PANIC OMG I WILL NEVER WORK AGAIN AND WILL STARVE IN A DITCH BEING GNAWED ON BY MY CATS AIIIIIIIGH!

Yeah, I wouldn't work out well in a high-risk, high-turnover job. I totally need the 9-monhth extended job interview season to plan that far ahead and ride the waves of alternating panic and euphoria.

Thing is, if I am not a good fit here, then I am not a good fit many many places ---- and I am at the mercy of whatever jobs get posted in a market that has only gotten shittier and scarier with time. I have also gotten much more picky, now that I have a job. I mean, I don't any more as of next year, but it is not so quick to undo my whole raising of standards and expectations thing.

See, I am in the West. And I like that. And I am in a town, and I have found my smallness limit. And I am not toooo far from family to drive although hopping on a regional aircraft would be easier. Ooh, and I'm right here at a regional airport. So when I looked through the Chronicle and IHE for a quick pass through of jobs that haven't closed already .... dude, a lot of your jobs out there kinda suck. I'm just not interested in moving to the midwest to a tiny town and a school that is only 1000 students and is 2 or 3 hours from a major airport. I did the whole three-transfers-and-a-full-day-of-flying to go visit family in CA and got tired of it. And to be harsh and brutally honest (probably the reason I am being nonrenewed) I bet that a tiny private nonselective school that I have never heard of and that has nothing around it would probably have the same standards, and thus I run into the same problems, as my cc. On top of that, I am already used to my lovely CC salary and small privates seem to pay much less. And the place I posdoc-ed started the Asst Prof in English at 47K when I was there, so I know things are low.

But on the other hand, if I am not a good "fit" for this community college, and it's just me, like me as a person or some fundamental aspect of my personality, then how would I get any other community colleges to take a chance on me? Wouldn't I be a bad fit there as well? Most of the MLA type market has passed already, so I was assuming I would apply out to the ccs that are closest to my family's home. I am not qualified to get into a four-year school's writing program except as a lecturer (no comp/rhet PhD) and those pay way less. And my family is in the Bay Area, so even if I were to land one of those CA cc jobs I am looking at struggling to make ends meet and never buying a house or anything. Argh. Sigh.

So I am mentally constantly whizzing back and forth between terror and feeling that I have some sort of fundamental personality flaw that will prevent me from even barista-ing at Starbucks and feeling like the jobs listed are a step down, or at least a step away from what I want. I just have this thought that I shouldn't be going backward in lifestyle, you know? I'm sure that as unemployment looms closer I will change my tune on this, but it's just adding to my sluggish response in finding some apps and dusting off my job materials.

Yeegods and I'm gonna have to figure out how to address this in a letter and references too. And I think I let my Interfolio account lapse. Dammit.


Fretful Porpentine said...

I know this won't help with the lack-of-jobs-to-apply-to problem, but institutional culture does matter, a whole lot, and so do individual chairs, deans, and senior colleagues. So I wouldn't conclude that other institutions like yours are necessarily going to be an equally bad fit. In my case, VAP-not-hired-for-TT school and eventual-tenure-school were very much the same sorts of institutions on paper, apart from the fact that one was private and the other public, but I simply clicked at one of them in ways I didn't at the other, for all sorts of intangible reasons involving institutional culture, student demographics, and personalities.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I know going back to adjuncting is not the best thing in the world, but if you go back to the bay area, you should contact warm-and-fuzzy school where I used to work. It's not super great money, but they do have very high standards as far as their writing program goes, and they do sometimes hire in their adjuncts as full-time. I think you had had an interview set up with them at one point. Contact them again. They definitely hire for writing on a regular basis. Another thing that I did in the bay area was that I just sent my CV to a bunch of area schools and said, "Here's what I can do." And then, I got two jobs that way -- warm-and-fuzzy school and impossible-comp program. (The latter isn't really that impossible, but it felt like it when I was trying to wrangle children at the same time. At any rate, it could be a short term solution, and they pay slightly better than warm-and-fuzzy school.)

If you want to talk about other job possibilities in that area, let me know. Since I still have connections there, I would be happy to serve as a reference.

Lucky Jane said...

You have a lot of options; it's just hard to see them clearly when something like this hits you. Plus, many of them have yet to open up. Even the "MLA-type" jobs are becoming a misnomer as departments move to Skype and other alternatives when the newish January convention dates cut too close to the beginning of the term. And I can't say how much I agree with Fretful about fit: right down to their US News ranking, my first two employers were remarkably similar on paper, but life at the first was drudgery, while the second was a joy. You can't tell what the students and faculty are like on paper (though social media might give you more of an idea these days). Lots of places have the same goals as your college does, but they'll go about fulfilling them in ways that may align perfectly with your m.o. Meanwhile, take care of yourself.

Also, it is NOT you.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Dude. E-mail me. I'll do my best to talk you down from the ledge and maybe even see who might be hiring locally. Let's focus on what you do really, really well, rather than on the ways that you're entirely unsuited to any job anywhere ever and you're going to die alone in a house full of cats except that you live in California so you'll never be able to afford a house and no landlord will allow you to have a cat.

Okay? ;-)

Monica said...

The "MLA Type" jobs, according to the data, get more plentiful as the year goes on now--because no one is limited to only conference interviews. So, many schools are getting approval for posts later than they used to. Not the large research unis but the smaller schools, branch campuses, etc. In part, this is also part of the hiring season (people who get the early hire jobs leave), but it is also a budget cycle thing--students deposit and enroll and allow the position to be authorized.

On a more human note, you've gotten great advice here, and I hope you take Notorious Ph.D. up on the offer. This is terrible, and what you are feeling is natural. Now, look ahead with what you have learned about what you need in a job. That's the key to finding the right one.

Bardiac said...


I want to echo the fit thing, too. Schools that look the same on paper can feel very, very different as places to work.

I think we're likely to hire a VAP or two this year, mostly for comp. Email me if you want further info.

Susan said...

Echoing what others have said; and get in touch with me. (Like hot city, you could afford to live here.)

You come on the market now with three years at post-doc, 2 at CC: that's great teaching experience.

Dave said...

Fie whats adjuncting like in states in Ireland its an honary post there a candian Ged Martain adjucting in my History Dept two years ago there two other adjuct in the dept but they were former staff,who had just taken new higher ed obs in the U.K. who were help their phd student finish their phds now they are now delited!

Contingent Cassandra said...

Not suggesting you should stay and fight, but in terms of confidence-rebuilding, this study might be helpful: .

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Dave - Adjuncting in the US is basically just teaching part-time, and not having the research or committee duties of a full-time professor. The pay is shit, but it sorta helps people stay in academia while they apply for other jobs. I did it for five years. It was very hard, but I did enjoy teaching more back then than I do now.

When I was an adjunct, I had no idea how much committee work and meetings were involved in being full-time. It's a LOT more work than I thought it would be. Good thing I like being busy. :)

Anonymous said...

Cog, you must believe that you will work again. You have to have faith in yourself and a healthy dose of persistence.

I have been in similar shoes to yours and had the same feelings you've expressed here, and my heart goes out to you.

We are all behind you. Hang tough!