Posts Tagged ‘school’

I’m an adjunct and it’s killing me

September 6, 2011

I’m not good at it. I think it’s fair to put that right out there. But, under fair circumstances, I do alright. This fall has been hellish so far. I’ve been teaching comp pretty much non-stop for the past year and ahalf. Maybe two years. Which really isn’t all that long. I know this, too. Except I teach online.

You don’t get to see the faces of your students. They don’t get to see you. The entire reward of working with people is fairly obliterated by the computer screen. Having two discussion threads and 25 papers littered with basic spelling and grammatical errors per class , per week, week after week, can be fairly dehumanizing. After awhile, all that you know is that this massive pile of incredibly tedious work descends on you every sunday night and you just wish it would stop. While your employer pushes for greater retention, you just want them to disappear, one by one, until you’re left with something a bit more manageable, or at least a bit less soul  crushing with its omnipresent weight of tedious repetition.

And that’s under the best circumstances, teaching online, at least for me, anyway. This fall has already fallen into the “worst circumstances” category.  The institution (business?) I’m working for decided they needed to revamp their email system for this fall. So, in August, I got instructions for setting up my new email account to use in the fall. Assuming I had a job, which hadn’t been confirmed when all of these emails were going out, but I assumed it was a promising sign. So I set up the account and then pretty much set it aside, believing it was for the fall.

Except for one of my bosses, and I mean “one of,” as in, I have several. And all of are able to simply nip into my class and observe me quietly from afar and all of my students have ready access to complain to them over any real or perceived slight. With a little imagination, you are probably beginning to grasp how nerve wracking this existence could be, with this idea that Big Brother could be omnipresent and that anyone can turn anyone else in and have it given weight, after all, because retention is key.

This one boss was using exclusively this new email address while the summer semester was still going on, while there was still three weeks left in the summer session. So I missed out on his email saying that the class I’m teaching was being revamped. I missed out on the email offering a workshop in all of the new stuff they’ve crammed into this thing. And I missed out on the email reminding me to get the new books for the new course, just in case I didn’t notice that the entire course has been altered for the fall.

Frankly, I was too burned out to care too much by Aug. 8, and I still 17 days in the summer semester. And when that Summer semester ended, I had to simply bottom out for a few days. So, I was pretty much fucked when I opened up my new classes the day or two before they were to begin and saw the whole damn thing changed. I’ve been playing catch-up ever since. My students are miserable and bitchy because the campus bookstore can’t manage to send them any of their books on time, so they can’t access half the work. I’m in a horrible mood because I still haven’t gotten all of the books myself and my students are freaking out because of something I essentially have zero control over. But that hasn’t stopped them from bitching to me about it.

And the worst thing is that I sort of like the new class layout so far. It actually seems easier if Ihad my book or if mystudents had theirs or if any of these emails that I missed had been sent to the email account my other bosses and department secretaries were using.

And what does all of this have to do with writing or literature? I don’t have time for it right now. I’m trying to make time but it’s just not there and when I do find free time, I’m so stressed and angry and tired and just thoroughly unhappy with what I’m doing for a living that I can’t concentrate on anything I really care about. Instead, I continue to just need to crash. To bottom out. To push everything aside for a bit and engage in some mental.emotional candy like obsessively scouring ebay and craigslist for specific toys for the kid or trying to figure out what that song by the cranberries is that I have stuck in my head from 15 years ago (it was Zombie) or watching Ghost Hunters International on Hulu while also bitching about the regular Ghost Hunters no longer being on Hulu.

The thought of picking up pen and paper or opening an office document file and diving into serious editing and revisions is damn near impossible at this point.

Alright. Piss and moan over. Back to the world.

Advertisements

Not Much of Anything

September 3, 2009

this has just been one of those weeks where I can’t get into much of anything. I’ve tried writing but it’s mostly just staring at the screen with some words trickling out here and there. I’ve tried reading but I can’t find the patience for it.

The problem is I can’t really afford these dry spells but I’m not sure how to work out of it without beginning something new. Though, part of the problem might be that I’m too close to finishing too many things. The one novel really doesn’t have a ton of work to do (though it has enough) and I’ve been closing in on finishing out a couple of notebooks of poetry/prose. Ending things has always been a problem for me. I don’t necessarily like wrapping them up and putting them behind me. Part of it feels good, of course. Something accomplished, etc. But it’s also something I know I can’t have back.

I think another part of it is getting accostumed to g/f’s new school schedule. She started last week and I think the whole thing is just setting in now how she isn’t around and how I need to stop worry about her riding the bus/train at night and having to drive to different schools.

I’ll try again today and maybe I’ll get something written down.

Stand Next to Your Friends!

September 1, 2009

A hodge podge today.

 

I was looking forward to trying to get into Derrida but I’ve just hit a stonewall lately. This, along with seeing all of the blah crap g/f has had to do recently with her MFA program, has put a sizable dent in my enthusiasm for going back to school.  I’m not big on going for an MFA in creative writing but it’s what I would be most suited for. I would be slightly more interested in pursuing a PhD in culture studies but I think I’m far less suited for that.

As always, I’m hit with a big sense of doubt and lack of surity. It’s probably a character flaw. What I’m best at is just sitting in front of the computer and churning out lines. I excel at going over my own work. In the end, I’ll probably do it  just to do it and to keep moving forward in some way.

– –  –

This morning the kid was a hassle at the bus stop. Again. yesterday he pitched a fit because of a butterfly. One of the neighbors grew some butterflies over the summer after capturing some caterpillers. Last week, one hatched and they released it when all of the kids got off the bus from school last friday. Yesterday morning it was mentioned the other butterfly hatched over the weekend and they released it. And he pitched a fit because he didn’t get to see it.

This morninghe refused to stand with everyone. So the g/f went over and dragged him back to the group. First, because it was annoying that he was shunning everyone. Second, because it’s dangerous with him standing on the other side of a driveway by himself. He threw another fit. Screamed about how mean she was and she practically had to pitch him onto the bus so he didn’t get left behind while throwing this tantrum.

A wonderful way to start the day. And, of course, his teacher just raves about how well behaved he is. I think she’s full of shit.

– – –

I’m making good progress on some fill-in chapters for the novel I’m re-writing. While reading through the first draft, it became clear that there was a bit that wasn’t being mentioned that probably should be mentioned. Not to just flesh out the story but to also flesh out the characters and the world. Besides, if I don’t like it, I can always take them out again later.

But I like the bits I’m working on now and they are helping answer some questions I had in regards to how I was going to re-work some of the pre-existing chapters.

– – –

On the first draft of a novel I’m working on now, I’m pleased to say that it is going noticeably smoother than the first draft for the other novel. So for anyone that’s wondering, yes, I think it does get easier the more you do it.