Thursday, May 31, 2007


So one whole wall of my classroom is a window, two-thirds of my students will probably be future nurses, everyone still seems kind and supportive, and there's no writing to grade. In fact, the chapter tests are multiple choice, provided by the textbook publisher, and I can use a Scantron machine to grade them. So what used to be the most time-consuming part of teaching isn't part of this job. More and more excited every day.


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


My neighborhood has a reputation as the most politically liberal area of the city. Hippies galore. Charitable groups find this reputation useful: The Nature Conservancy has an office down the street, and while I haven't seen a Jehovah's Witness or a Mormon yet, I've met more left-leaning door-knockers in the past ten months than I can count. Just today, I've declined to purchase a beautiful bracelet or a matryoshka from a young Ukrainian man (proceeds would have fought teenage drug use), and regretfully insisted that it wasn't possible for me to contribute "just" $20 to a GLBT civil rights group.

These door-knockers are trained to work the guilt angle for all it's worth, and bless them for that. I hope my neighbors give generously. But I'm really very poor. I'll listen respectfully to their mission statement, I'll express moral support for their cause, and I might even put their bumper sticker on my car. But I won't give them money. At this point, it's a matter of policy. After all, eating has to come first. Then changing the world.

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Tuesday is Brain-Garbage Day

Today is my first day off work since last Monday. That's seven straight days of eight-hour shifts at a job that's more physical than you'd guess, and today I feel kind of like I was recently in a fistfight. At least, this is how I imagine that would feel. Because it's a pretty funny mental picture--and those of you who know me can go ahead and try it out: me in a fight. Most of my coworkers knew I was working a seven-day stretch because one simply cannot be silent about injustice at Barnes & Noble. The managers are nice enough that they don't actually want to screw us over, but sometimes they just don't pay attention. So you make them pay attention. And it worked, because yesterday the general manager told me I'd better sleep in today (which I did, past 9:30 even), and the assistant manager who made the schedule told me to lie around and do nothing all day. Which I won't, because doing nothing usually makes me feel like a big rolling ball of crap. And also because if I don't go to the grocery store today, we may not survive the week, and if I don't clean the litter box today, the more fastidious of my two cats might fill up with poo and explode. But I've made a decently lazy start to the day, since it's almost one in the afternoon and my hair is still wet from the shower and I'm on my first cup of tea. In fact, the only thing really productive I've done today is schedule a meeting for Thursday with an instructor at the technical college where I'll be teaching. Because I decided to take that teaching job, like I knew I would. And I'm nervous about that, but excited too. It'll be a good change in my life, and I think it will be a good place to start teaching. So far, everyone seems supportive. So yeah, excited.

But you know what I'm also excited about? Finishing this rambling post so I can do my errands and chores, and read Anna Karenina, which--in more random news--is totally engrossing and much more modern than I expected.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Terrifying Unreal

I just went in for what I thought was a job interview (I even prepared a stinking portfolio), and was offered an adjunct teaching position on the spot. This is the second time this kind of thing has happened to me, and I really want the universe to know that it scares the hell out of me. Because of course I'm going to accept the job, but what of my need to absorb the reality of it, and prepare emotionally, and decide whether I actually want to teach a remedial reading course?

I'll probably end up doing it, although as a psychological crutch I'm still giving myself official permission to back out. But the school and the people who work there just became concrete to me today, and the students aren't even shadows yet. Committing to teaching this class is like jumping into an abyss. And there isn't even that much money to grab at on the way down.

I'm scared.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Ladies' Day Out

Today I got to hang out with four awesome women in my family, and I had three desserts. Mother's Day rocks.


Saturday, May 12, 2007

8 Things

Blame Natasha. She tagged me.

Start with eight random facts/habits about yourself. Tag eight more people to blog their own eight things.

1. I almost never read nonfiction books. Because I commit to the one book I'm reading at any given time, I'm a little afraid that I would get stuck forever inside a nonfiction book I wasn't motivated to read, and never get to read fiction again.

2. When I was a kid, I claimed to be more of a dog person than a cat person because my dad likes dogs so much better, and I was a daddy's girl. Now I'm making up for all those years of repression, and my live-in boyfriend is probably the only thing standing between me and crazycatladyhood.

3. I'm a cultural snob, and I avoid any appreciation of bestselling music or books. When I just can't resist the pleasures of Evanescence or Maroon 5, I turn the volume down at stoplights. And when I finally get around to reading The Road by Cormac McCarthy, I'll peel the Oprah's Book Club sticker off the cover.

4. We're starting to look for a new apartment, and I've recently realized that a private balcony or porch is more important to me than pretty much any other amenity. Because I'm a walking paradox: an outdoorsy homebody.

5. I've never been out of the United States, not even to Mexico or Canada (despite having lived just hours away from the latter for most of my life). So far, this is what I regret most in my life.

6. I love food. And I love trying new food so much that in this city with hundreds of wonderful restaurants, going out to one I've eaten at before feels a little like wasting money.

7. Some of my best childhood memories are of my mom reading to me. She usually chose books because they had artistic illustrations, and I remember her saying so. Now that I work in a bookstore, I know I inherited her love of cool illustrations. This explains my obsession with Jan Brett, Skippyjon Jones, Hondo & Fabian, and this book about Frida Kahlo.

8. I'm fascinated by pregnancy. Because I don't intend to experience it intimately for at least five years, I'm a little weird around pregnant women. I stare at them, and if I know them, I hound them with questions. Just ask the pregnant Community Relations Manager I work with.

I won't bother tagging eight people, because I think the only person in my blogiverse who might actually do this is my baby sister.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

That sound? That's the last three years of my life going down the cosmic toilet.

On Monday I got a phone call from a local technical college that sounded promising for about two minutes: "I see you applied for a part-time or adjunct teaching position back in December. We have an opening for a full-time English instructor now, and I don't know if you're interested or even qualified, but you should take a look at the job posting on our website." Well, yeah, I'm interested. I'm not entirely sure I want to saddle myself with a full-time teaching position (which at a technical college might mean five or six classes a semester) when I'm hoping to devote more time to writing, but of course I want to apply.

Except. I'm not qualified.

And this is a new thing. Because once upon a time, having a Master's degree in something--being a master of a subject--and having some experience teaching it, was qualification enough to teach it again. But my state's college and university system has put in place a new kick in the ass for all of us foolish enough to get Master's degrees. (My favorite Simpsons quote: "Bart, don't make fun of grad students. They just made a terrible life choice.") It's called a "Teaching and Learning Competency Requirement." To be qualified to teach at the college level, I have to have either a degree in (K-12) education, or at least three years of full-time teaching experience, or pay to complete four courses in teaching.

This is insulting and ridiculous. A professor once told me that it's sometimes considered detrimental for post-secondary instructors to have teaching degrees, and that makes sense. Because teaching strategies will be different for high school and college students, even if there's only one degree of separation between them. And students will notice the difference and call you on it in a nanosecond if you don't adjust your tactics once they hit college. Besides that, having an education degree or even a few years of experience doesn't automatically make you a more competent teacher. Some people teach for thirty years and are still pretty incompetent. I've been in their classes.

I suspect the colleges participating in this are already feeling the effects. I mean, they called me to tell me about the job. Under normal circumstances, people would be attacking that job like piranhas. And the website says the posting is actually a "re-posting." The original resume review began a couple of weeks ago. That makes me think they're having trouble finding suitable candidates. And why wouldn't they? I know a couple of people with education degrees and Master's degrees in English, but only a couple. And they either are teaching at K-12 schools, or they intend to. These colleges have winnowed their applicant pools down so far, they're missing out on some seriously good teachers. Like me.

Because I'm not exactly in a position to say "screw 'em," and I think they may be just desperate enough to jump on someone who's almost-but-not-quite "qualified," I think I'm going to resubmit my resume anyway.

If this goes anywhere, I'll post a giant "na-na na-na boo-boo" here.

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