Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Jobs, Dreams and Charlie Sheen's Tooth Enamel

I'm on the floor. You gotta scrape me off of it these days. I showered today. I sent out three last ditch job applications. Mostly hoping against all-logic that someone will believe in me and my little-cv-that-could.

The truth is, this academic-job-nut must be made of titanium or tungsten or Charlie Sheen's tooth enamel. It's not just hard to crack; it's impossible, really. But if I do find some kind of magical saw or jackhammer fueled by fairy dust and the dreams of poet-teachers everywhere, I will sneak into that little crack so fast. I will teach the crap out of Critical Thinking & Composition or Developmental Reading. If I get a freshman comp class, well, I will click my heals as I walk onto campus each day. My students won't know it, but they'll be free-writing and peer reviewing and revising revising revising all over the place, but they will just think, "Wow, who knew writing and learning and listening and reading and speaking could be this much fun?"

Yeah, that's my little dream. It's a good one to hold onto. It fuels me when I read course descriptions like, "In this workshop, we will explore the dynamic properties of ice cubes and it's effect on culture and politics in our own writing." Yeah. I don't even know what that means, but it might be cool. Who knows? Would I fit in that department? Sometimes I feel so un-California-like. I just want to help people find the tools to be become good writers.

When things get really tough, I imagine my ideal classroom...

There is a big round table in the middle. Or maybe it's shaped like a caterpillar, with different types of chairs and exercise balls and stools and things to sit on. The walls are lined with books and journals and magazines and books. The latest technology flows seamlessly among small, independent workstations and group collaboration tables that always have paper and notebooks and pens and pencils and a center for bookmaking and skill-share corner for students to learn how to do things or teach others to do something they know. We'll have Mandatory Writing Hour thrice daily, where everyone writes and edits and writes and writes some more. Oh, and snacks. There will be delicious snacks. Class will last all day, but no one will mind because it won't feel like class, it will feel like we are engaging with ourselves, the page, each other, books, history and....

Well that was a fun little fantasy. In reality I'll get a room in a basement with desks that are bolted to the floor. And it will be hard, because teaching is hard. But I can still dream. When I'm not writing cover letters with words like "encompass" and "theory," I'm thinking about this perfect classroom.

Things have gotten really tough this past week. There were lots of meltdowns, questioning my life-path, and why, oh why, was I subjecting myself to this kind of torture? Because teaching is what I do. Just like writing. They are connected. Even if I could sit in a room and write all day and have people bring me food and never leave, I wouldn't. Because, 1) I'd get bored pretty quickly and 2) I'm sure whatever I write under those conditions will be god-awful. Awful Waffle kind of awful. For serious. I'd get out there and teach and engage and write and learn and write and teach...

But, on another, more personal note, I'm pretty lonely. It probably has something to do with the fact that I don't leave the apartment  much. I always have something to do and it's easiest to do it at home. At least my apartment is familiar. Outside is just so unfamiliar.

I really need a job.
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