February Was Supposed to be My Easy Month

February Was Supposed to be My Easy Month February 26, 2018

How much is this semester draining and defeating me? I can’t even find words to write a bloody blog post about it, that’s how much.

Somehow disguising the under-eye circles on a teaching day.

I knew going in that this semester would probably wreck me. It’s my first time having an experience that is increasingly common for adjuncts: teaching on multiple college campuses in order to make ends meet (and I sadly can’t say that my ends are particularly being met, due to the low wages adjuncts typically receive).

The teaching-at-two-campuses shuffle, along with the commute, has pretty much taken over my life. Lesson-planning and grading is always a scramble, so that was to be expected. I maaaaybe shouldn’t have added additional dance classes I’m taking and teaching if I wanted any semblance of a social life, but ah well.

Somehow in the midst of all this, I’m still getting academic work done, too: revised a book chapter that I’m really excited about, and got revisions in for two journal articles based on my dissertation (one’s been easy-going and the other I’ve jokingly calling “the R-&-R from hell” because most R &Rs, or revise and resubmits, are less intense than the one I received with in-line comments every few lines on the manuscript, from what I gather chatting with colleagues about their experiences). I’m going to whip out a few new conference papers and proposals somewhere in the midst of this, too.

There are good days and bad days; on the good days, I feel like I’m really making a difference in my students’ lives. On the bad days, I’m crying in my car due to stress and fatigue (it sometimes feels like I’m living out of my car, and probably looks that way too, even though I fortunately have a place to call home despite my jobs not paying the sort of wage that make it feasible to afford rent).

Every time I see a Twitter thread or blog post (like this excellent one by Erin Bartram) about the adjunctification of higher ed or why someone is finally leaving academia, my heart twinges. I think to myself that it’s only a matter of time before I reach the point of writing my own “quit-lit” blog post, not simply going alt-ac which I’ve already done, but that might just be the fatigue and anxiety talking.

I know better than to make major life decisions when stressed the fuck out. But if this semester is an indication of how the rest of my life will go, if I stay involved with academia but don’t manage to swing a full-time-ish position… I just don’t know how I can keep it up (and if anyone reads this as an indication that I’m not dedicated enough to get a full-time job despite trying for almost 6 years, well, I’m guessing you haven’t been in this very position and that’s the most polite thing I can say right now).

Especially in the midst of the “let’s arm teachers to stop gun violence at schools!” arguments (about which I cannot roll my eyes hard enough – have you SEEN us try to work an overhead projector?!), let’s think about how we treat our teachers in general. Because, as a teacher, I’m reaching my limit. And that’s increasingly becoming a dealbreaker for my time in the educational system. And it’s only February, people.

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