Funny. Ha ha? Or, peculiar? Well, yes.
In mid-November, I was busy going to high school — as a teacher, lest you think this decidedly ‘older woman’ can’t seem to meet the graduation requirements. I had a principal who claimed he’d been in high school for 40 years, and as nearly as I could tell, I was following in his footsteps. Then, on what looked to be sheer whim though assuredly was not, I resigned. By Christmas-time I had accepted a very part-time teaching position. Part-time university adjunct employment, for those who wonder, comes with amazing benefits:
1. Classes don’t meet every day.
2. A syllabus (and its clearly stated dos and don’ts) can be adhered to.
3. Excuses need not be offered (by students), as they will not be accepted (by instructors). Work is due when it is due. Penalties will apply.
4. Universities sort of have a ‘no fly’ zone. (Helicopters are no where in sight.)
5. Sleeping in occasionally offers no cause for alarm. See #1. See also, pun.
6. Thinking CAN happen anywhere.
7. Teaching remains the most vibrantly significant job on the planet.
8. #1 makes possible more time to read extraordinary writers’ work of fiction, poetry, & drama.
To date I have read:
Glaspell’s Trifles; Chekhov’s The Brute; Atwood’s “Happy Endings”; Dorothy Parker’s “General Review of the Sex Situation”; Jamaica Kincaid’s “Girl”; Edna St Vincent Millay’s “If I should learn, in some quite casual way”; Julia Alvarez’ “Dusting”; Tillie Olsen’s “I Stand Here Ironing”; and I have re-read:
Ibsen’s A Doll House; Faulkner’s “A Rose for Emily”; Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants”; Marge Piercy’s “What’s that Smell in the Kitchen?”; Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour”; Billy Collins’ “An Introduction to Poetry” and “To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl”; Tom Wayman’s “Did I Miss Anything?” and Williams The Glass Menagerie.
I’ve also been reading Anne Tyler’s Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (halfway through it), Maria Duenas’ The Time in Between (just started this one); I have finished Franzen’s Freedom and started a book of his essays; I’ve also started and finished Rosaria Champagne Butterfield’s The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Not on this list but influential to my reading life: countless bloggers’ offerings and journalists’ opinions. And, duh! Tweets. 🙂
I’ve also been watching season 3 of ‘Downton Abbey,’ season 5 of ‘Mad Men’ and spending time with my husband, my dog, and my thoughts.
The ‘funny’ thing (ha ha) is, when I accepted this very part-time teaching position, I knew the one benefit it didn’t have going for it: money. Adjuncts don’t get paid a whole real lot. Particularly amusing side note: I make this monetary observation after having spent 18 years in private education, institutions whose pay scales don’t keep up with what public school teachers can make. And to that, my husband and I both tightened up the budget, and said, “okay. Let’s see how it goes.” Peculiar, for us.
Here’s how it’s going. In the past 24 hours, another adjunct has had to step away from teaching responsibilities, and, because I am not a full-time employee anywhere, I have the time, the capability and the interest in stepping in to fill the gap. I’ve gone from 1 to 3 classes in a near-literal eye blink. Teaching, because it’s what I do. Stepping in, because I have the time. Benefits, because Grace, like always, is amazing.