Posts Tagged ‘McDonald’s’

As a former adjunct…

May 3, 2014

This article from The Atlantic has been sitting in my browser for a couple of days now. The short of it is that adjuncts are becoming a larger fact of universities, that the quality of education is slipping as the quality of the work environment slips, and that adjuncts are trying to organize in some way to fight for better pay, benefits, etc. Which is noble. I’ve been through the grinder of accumulating degrees, looking for work, teaching classes the majority of students give two shits about, and repeating this for semesters on end. It sucks. I think it also gives me a bit of a box from which to stand and speak. I think it is very noble of adjuncts to fight for a better work environment. They’ve trained to be good at something they (hopefully) enjoy. Having said that, they should just quit. Find something else they enjoy. Something else that pays better and better appreciates your work. I say this in the midst of a similar change. While I was forced to step out of teaching for a bit due to family concerns and getting my schedule to work with the wife, the kid, and the kid on the way, I’ve found that while I miss a paycheck, I don’t miss the job. I don’t miss the bad hours, I don’t miss bringing the majority of my work home with me, I don’t miss any of it.

My advice to students who have yet to graduate from anything is to not look into being a professor. If you can eventually find your way into a tenure track gig, and actually have the university live up to its promise and award you tenure, it can be great. It can also (still) pay poorly. You can be part of an institution that doesn’t care about your field. Where I went to grad school was in the midst of a merger with a local hospital and there was changes afoot with the administration. The end result being some folks in charge who saw the humanities as a whole as just needless blather, but was kept around because composition was needed.  If you were involved in anything other than the hard sciences you were chopped liver. It’s something to consider as the costs of going to college isn’t getting any cheaper and it seems one of the ways universities have looked to cut costs is to streamline the whole schooling process a bit so students only need to take what they “need,” which means a lot of them probably won’t bother with unnecessary fluff like literature, art, history, philosophy, or foreign languages. And as fewer students take those courses, there will be less need for those faculty and funding will dry up.  Awesome sauce, no? Think they will be next on the list of “To Be Replaced With Adjuncts?” I think so.

So. Don’t get into the mess. Quit doing it. Try to land a full time gig at McDonald’s and the pay will be relatively similar and the hours will be set, you won’t have to drive around to three or four different facilities, and it’s less stressful. Fight back? Leave them with no one to treat poorly, no one to teach their courses, until they want to come to their senses and treat us well.   Maybe then we’ll come back. Maybe. Depends if Mickey D’s gives me free lunches, cause that’s at least $5 a day I don’t have to spend.

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what I wish was a drunken conversation in a McDonald’s at AWP

February 8, 2011

The g/f and I went to one off-site event while we were at AWP, at The Asylum, where we watched some poets read, munched some vegan appetizers (which were incredible, despite their non-animalness)(not awesome enough to make me give up my animal tasty treats for good, though) and where I got the beginnings of a headache and tired of some personal space intrusion. This was still at the time I was having to do a TON of grading for the courses I teach, so I wasn’t in the best mood to begin with.

So, we left after the readings and struck out for the convention again, hoping to catch the last bit of the Jhumpa Lahiri keynote address. Instead, we wandered into a basement McDonald’s and griped about the state of poetry and the faint of heart, spotlight shunning writers who just don’t stomp the terra firma, to borrow and, likely, butcher a quote from Hunter Thompson.

First, I should say, I’m not a huge poetry fan right now. There just isn’t a lot out there that interests me and a lot of it sounds pretty similar. This isn’t to say it’s not good, I just don’t find a lot of it catching or interesting. It seems a lot of what is said is said to work in a slam environment though not necessarily on the page or even in your own head. Again, this isn’t to say it’s not good, it just feels like everyone is doing the same thing right now. And none of them really say a whole helluva lot.

And part of the problem seems to be this odd anti-intellectualism that permeates poetry (and, truth be told, fiction). This isn’t to say they’re dumb, or ignorant, just that I have continually witnessed an aversion to research and reading something that isn’t fiction or poetry.  I’ve griped before about this idea that the work is sparked by some muse and comes from on-high, which is another way of saying what I often heard repeated, that “you don’t think about it, you just write it and it’s THERE.” Which I disagree with too a fair extent, despite how many well written poems I’ve read that chronicle the depths of your despair in the eyes of a puppy on a sunny day.

Which, in a roundabout but perfectly logical (at the time) way, took me to Allen Ginsberg and my declaration that he was the last poet that I could genuinely respect and admire as a Great (capital G) Poet (capital P) because he not only wrote great poetry but, by all appearances, had a meaning and purpose behind what and how he was writing. I’ve liked poets since him, sure, I really enjoy Bukowski, but respect him as a writer? As an artist? Maybe not so much.

And what sort of disgusted myself with this declaration is that it’s sort of like bringing Hitler or the Nazis into an internet argument – it’s just so over the top inarguable, that it’s pointless to bring it up. I mean, is there anyone who is going to argue that there was a bigger, more influential and flat out better poet after Ginsberg in the last half of the Twentieth century? I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, unless we begin pulling in guys like Bob Dylan into the argument, or try to argue that filmmakers are poets in a visual medium.

And what disgusts me a bit now is that I know, and have known, other poets who are very good, who are dedicated to their craft, and who I stupidly insulted. But, at the same time, I still have this nagging feeling of having still been right, to a certain degree. There have been poets since Ginsberg who entered our social consciousness, who found themselves or made themselves part of our national fabric, but none of them have carried the weight of Ginsberg, none of them have cast his shadow. None of them have stomped the land.

Anyway, that’s my off-handed gripe/post. Take it with the grain of salt it was written with.