Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Countdown and My Idiot Children

So I didn't get any summer classes. But that's okay - it's only a little humiliating to ask my mother for money with which to buy peanut butter and crackers. The real nerve-wracker is the compulsive way in which I lately keep my eye on the calendar, obsessing about those late-deciding job openings that just maybe might still break my way. I call it the Countdown. The Countdown to Fall, the point of no return and/or the point at which I go completely crazy.

If I'm not there already. How maddening is it that there are still a few jobs ads trickling in? That even as the Ides of June approach I'm still sending out the odd application? Can't we just have done with this, for the sake of my fingernails, at least?

I realize I'm luckier than most, in that I'm likely (though not guaranteed), come Fall, to have some classes at the institution where I taught this past year. They seemed to like me well enough and the students were tolerable. The money's enough, if barely. I'm lucky. I get that.

But the waiting is driving me nuts. It's a killer. If the drudgery of sending out applications, the adrenalin high of anticipation, and emotional crash of disappointment were all confined to one, two, or even three months, it wouldn't be so bad, but I started sending out CVs last October. I've been running on this treadmill for eight months. At this point, my college misery has nothing to do with students. Hell, at this point, pacing around my tiny living space and desperately sending my papers to successively lower- and lower-ranked journals, some students would be a welcome annoyance.

Like the kid who kept a chaw of tobacco in his mouth and spit every so often into his Coke can. I was too disgusted by his habit to even acknowledge what he was doing, much less ask him to stop. Interestingly, he wasn't hopeless at Hampsterosophy. Just at making good life choices, apparently.

Like the kid who admitted to me that she didn't show up for the final because she just didn't realize they weren't optional. When asked what she did about them in high school, this twenty-year old shrugged and said something to the effect of "who remembers?"

Like the kid who asked me after class one day, "What would you study to teach Hampsterosophy, anyway?" I offered, "Well, Hampsterosophy," and received the astonished reply, "They give DEGREES in THIS stuff?"

Like the kid who insisted that there MUST be an audiobook version of the textbook, because "they've got audiobooks for everything, now." As far as I know, she never found one. As a business student, you'd think she would have been pleased to find an untapped market.

God help me, they're like a bunch of idiot children, but they were, for a little while, at least, my children, and I love teaching them so much that, in a way, I almost love them.



...back to checking my email.


  1. This is truly great / horrible misery!

  2. I would send you peanut butter myself, except we don't really have any where I live :(

    You're right on with the hamster wheel of job misery. It's a wonder how anyone on the market gets anything else done, and pretty much anything else would be far more likely to have something to show for it at the end of the day.


  3. Ugh. This is one reason I have *not* been on the market for quite a while (the other is that I have a semi-decent, semi-secure job, emphasis on the "semi" part, which is why I probably need to do it again, probably sooner rather than later, before they start asking "so what job did you retire from before becoming an academic?").

    Also, that you (and I) can say we're "luckier than most," and mean it, simply because we earn enough with our advanced degrees to more or less keep body and soul together (sometimes with help from mom) is (or at least ought to be) pretty shocking.

  4. This post should be a call to arms. I want to do something about it.

    You are strong. You will survive this. Good luck.

  5. Yeah, the "luckier than most" thing is how they split us all apart, though I know you mean well. I mean, as long as someone is MORE miserable, we must be doing OK, right? No. Right now, but for the 1% of higher ed (the rock stars, the overpaid), there are only greater and lesser degrees of being exploited. Even tenure, that golden calf, is offset by an insane workload, stagnating salaries, reduced benefits, etc. The only people benefiting from this shit are administrators.