Friday, July 30, 2010

In Which I Become Professor Kuffel

I had an incomplete fantasy that I would never have to work for The Man again. 

We all have to work for The Man.  The only question is whether we can keep The Man at arm's length.

I could see my last advance money dwindling.  Angry Fat Girls -- soon to be retitled Eating Ice Cream with My Dog and Other Adventures in Fatland: A True Story of Food, Friendship and Losing Weight...Again -- bombed so badly that we're hoping for a miracle with the paperback.  As much as I try to look at the bright side (I'll have a Marley and Me look-alike: maybe it will be a sell-alike too!), my next advance is more than an 85% reduction.  I have plans that require money.  Paying off my debt.  Figuring out the third act of my life.  Yogurt.

So I got me an adjunct job teaching freshman composition to business students.  They are a fascinating lot.  The international students have some problems with English and the homegrown students have more problems with English.  We have nothing in common, coming as we do from all four corners of the globe, so I'm giving them a lesson in American history as seen through the lens of New York in the years between 1890 - 1910.  Their faces are mostly glazed over like Dunkin' Donuts but I rattle on, asking questions like, "Was the United States, a hundred years ago, an imperialist country?" (We'd just fought the Spanish American War and taken possession of The Philippines, Guam, Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands.)  Or, "Is capitalism still the driving force of the U.S. economy?"  Or, "What has the long-lasting effect of the Ladies' Garment Workers' Union been?"

A molecule at a time I pull an answer out of them.  I tell them they can never use the word "just" in an essay they turn in to me again.  I snap when someone has not stopped texting after I've already asked him/her to stop three minutes earlier.  I have them doing daily presentations on their favorite aspect of popular culture and now know more about Korean boy bands and the Panamanian equivalent of Elvis Costello than I ever thought I'd need to know.  For 105 minutes, less 15 for presentations, I jabber on about commas, run-on sentences and the semiotics of Dreamland.  I'm terrified of that moment of silence when I run out of things to do and say so I over-prepare, which puts us behind schedule and exhausts me before I've set foot in the class each Tuesday morning.

I love it and I hate it.

But it could, of my department head's observation yesterday pans out, put me in a position to apply for Real Jobs.  You know, with, like, medical insurance and retirement and sabbaticals and a little house and yard for Daisy in Blow Hole, Oklahoma.

All of which is to say that I don't know what the hell I'm doing except that this weekend I'm doing only what has to be accomplished to get my kids thinking enough to begin working on a persuasive essay.  I have a date tonight with a Croatian named Bob and -- why did I PROPOSE this? -- a bowling date (I sprained my elbow when a friend, who was drunk, stumbled and I tried to break his fall) tomorrow night with a man twenty years my junior which makes me, my students inform me, a "cougar".  I will not color my hair for tonight because I'm tired and don't feel like it.  He'll be lucky if I take a shower.  Dates are not my life.  Words are, and they are precious because they're being spent on 420 minutes of standing at the head of classrooms each week.  I mostly don't want to talk because I'm weary with talking.  And I want to write but wonder if I have enough words.

So I thought I'd experiment here.

Now I'm going to go check my rye crop over on Farmville.


Vickie said...

College Professor sounds absolutely wonderful to me. I am jealous. Something I wish I had done.

E. Jane said...

I left a previous comment, but I am having difficulty staying connected to the server. It went down at the moment I clicked to post, so I'm not sure you received it. If you did, delete this comment. I wanted to tell you that the professor position sounds very interesting, and you obviously have talents and experience that the school desired. Not everyone could qualify for such a position. I have also found that with new experiences often comes new inspiration and creativity. You never know what may come to a creative person like you, Frances. They are very lucky to have you, and I'll bet they know it. to you.

Cindy said...

Congrats on the job. I don't like working for the Man but I love it when he pays me.

Unknown said...

I'm against any job that requires groups of people to stare at me for extended periods of time. ((0.o))

With that said, do you think Daisy will even LIKE Blow Hole, Oklahoma?

And is all of Oklahoma really OK???