Tomorrow will be the last day of the regular semester, and then next week is finals week. This has been a kind of strange semester, not in the least because of the job market attempt. As of the current moment, I'm feeling pretty dejected related to that attempt, as with each passing day I become more and more convinced that I've put myself in this position for nothing: that when all is said and done, the job that I have is the one that I will continue to have, whatever my high-falutin aspirations. Clearly I've not been rejected everywhere yet, but as the days tick by, with the help of that horrible wiki, it becomes clear to me where I'm out of the running. It's hard not to take it personally, even though I know (having served on a search committee) how impersonal and arbitrary the process is. I had gone into this process aware of that - and I'd thought that I could handle it - and, well, I can handle it, and I am handling it - but it doesn't make it easier, even knowing that it's not, well, me. Because it feels like me that is being passed over, however much I know that the needs and desires of departments and universities have little to do with me as an individual, ultimately. So that's the disappointment part of things.
The exhaustion, well, we're all feeling it. It comes with the territory at this time of year. Too much grading, too little energy, etc. Really, there's little more to say than that.
As for the irritation, well, today began with an irritating meeting and it ended with an irritating meeting. Both were irritating for different reasons, but both were irritating for particular reasons that have to do with the culture of my institution. Combine this with the disappointment in paragraph one, and, well, as you might imagine, the irritation is multiplied exponentially.
But then there's the happiness. This semester was one of my best teaching semesters I've had - ever. I am pleased with all of my classes - so much so that for the first time I've allowed for two of the three to have "parties" on the last day (something not unheard of at my university, but something I've never done - in part because there's never been time before, but somehow this semester there is time.) I have such a good rapport with the students in my classes this semester, and they've all come so far - from my little class of freshmen, who've grown up so much as people - not only as writers - since august, to my seniors, who have pushed themselves beyond what I'd imagined they could or would do, to all of those students in between in my survey class.
As much as I'm feeling disappointed and exhausted and irritated, it's hard to ignore the fact that I also feel extremely happy with my work as a teacher, and my work at this particular institution as a teacher.
And maybe the thing that I'm most happy about is the fact that a number of my upper-level students want to do a reading group with me in the spring for which they will receive no credit. You can't imagine the sense of accomplishment I feel about this. Students at my university, who work full time and have families and spouses and kids and all of these other commitments, don't tend to sign on for such extracurricular work. I'd mentioned that I'd be willing to lead such a thing in passing around midterm, and I really didn't think that they'd be interested. But now - in the last class of the regular semester, as I sat with them eating dessert for breakfast - they asked me would I still be willing.
And so whatever happens on the job market, I think I've got to pay attention to the fact that I am making a difference where I am. A real difference, a difference that I suspect even many of my colleagues here would never have predicted could be possible. That is real work, and it is good work. And I'm grateful for the fact that I have the chance to do that kind of work, whatever the things about this place or this job I wish were different. Perhaps the thing that really needs to change in my life is me - not my location, not my job, but my approach to things. If I can do this well with something so seemingly intractable, what else might I achieve if I put my mind to it? This is something that I think I need to think about in a serious way.
But I will not be thinking about it in a serious way right now, because I've got to make some food for my little freshmen to eat tomorrow. I know. I'm cooking for my students. What the hell is wrong with me? As BFF said, "What, are you going to start letting them call you 'Mommy,' too?" Not quite, but I really love the thing I'm making for them tomorrow, and it's the sort of dish that one cannot make when one lives alone, so there is something in it for me, too :)
2 years ago