Big changes, big feelings!

Hi, friends!

I feel that I’ve been a bit quieter here than I usually am. Yes, I still blog hop and write one post per calendar week, but that’s awfully quiet for me. I wanted to let you know about some big changes in my life.

IMG_20180927_112224715
Hello!

On August 1st, with the deadline to turn in two new syllabi to my department chair just nine days away, I emailed to say that I was resigning. All summer, when I would think about the up-coming semester, I didn’t feel great about it. In the ten years I’ve been an adjunct professor, students have changed. They sometimes borrow the language of Twitter social justice folks and wield it inappropriately (because they aren’t educated about the history or principles of what they’re “fighting” against).

generation z.jpg
Generation Z by BIGEYE.

It’s not just the students, though. I reached a point where I could no longer be okay with the title “adjunct,” which implies less-than. I could no longer hear co-workers say, “When are you going to get that PhD?” when I was A) an adjunct, B) have two master’s degrees, one of which is a terminal degree, and C) have more teaching experience that some of my colleagues with PhDs. I’m sure everyone was being encouraging, but that’s not how it rang in my mind.

Ultimately, I decided I would work the same crazy hours for loads more money, or work for the same amount of money for far fewer hours — no more than 30.

frustrated.gif

I interviewed at my county library system for an executive administrator position, but didn’t get it. Then, I interviewed in the next city to be a checkout desk person at their library. I thought this would be a low-stress job at which I could rant about books. It turns out, for 1st Amendment reasons, I’m not allowed to say anything about books. I can’t comment on what someone is reading, nor can I recommend anything. Only a person with a Master’s in Library Science can point readers to potential books. I’m now wondering if working at libraries isn’t as dreamy as I thought.

book.gif

At that interview, there were three people interviewing me: a librarian, a checkout desk person, and the HR lady. The only individual who worked at the branch at which I was applying was the checkout desk lady. When asked if I had any questions, I asked her in particular, “What do you like about working at this branch?” She replied, “Uhhhhhh, we’re interviewing you.” And I’m not sure how many of you “get” my personality, but I responded (yes, out loud)

“Oh, if this is a terrible place to work, I don’t to work here.”

she started it.gif

I got the job! (yes, for real).

But about 30 minutes after my interview I was called by the director of the South Bend Civic Theatre (they make me spell it “re”). This is where I volunteered all summer. Remember, I was the stage manager of a play called Topdog/Underdog? After our first show, the director of the theatre took us all out for dinner as a thank you (everyone in the show is a volunteer, so this is a nice gesture). At that dinner, I had lamented how I felt about work, my life, and what I wanted to do moving forward. He remembered, thus he called me to interview for the position of Production Manager based on what I said and the skills I showed as stage manager.

wayne's world.gif

I work at the theatre now — 25 hours per week — and enjoy the way community theatre brings people together. My first or second week, one young woman walked into the theatre and said she was there to change her life. You don’t hear that too often. It’s a good feeling. My job is to keep all shows on track for opening night in the production department — set build, lights, sound, ordering things, holding meetings, etc.

With reduced hours, I thought for sure I would read more and be truly active on Grab the Lapels. That hasn’t happened yet. I’m getting used to logistical things, like how to make/eat dinner when I now get out of work at 7:00PM. I also don’t have to wake up early, so I often sleep in. That can eat up some hours in the day. Basically, I’m trying to figure some things our and making some plans for activity on Grab the Lapels with the help of writing prompts provided by Pages Unbound.

I also gained two pen pals through the Adopt an Inmate program. Based on my interests, I was sent a list of potential adoptees in correctional facilities across the country. I chose two individuals, each for a different reason besides their love of reading and writing. I sent out my first letters two days ago and am eagerly awaiting a response.

pen pal.gif

It’s a big responsibility to engage in this type of relationship; for an incarcerated person, these letters may be the only contact they have with someone outside the facility. Here is an important point to remember:

Receiving mail from the outside world has a profound impact on an inmate’s daily life. A name called out at mail call signals to other inmates and staff that there is someone on the outside that cares for them – making them less vulnerable to violence and abuse.

Many inmates never hear their name called.

Therefore, adopting an inmate should be carefully considered. If, for some reason, a pen pal stops writing regularly or quits, there’s someone on the other end just waiting without a way to find out what happened.

Thanks for reading!

thanks for reading.gif

Advertisements

72 comments

  1. Wow! You have had a lot going on! I am so happy to hear that you find your job fulfilling and interesting, even if it does mean working on the ‘life logistics’ changes you need to make. And I completely respect what you mean about being treated the way you have been as an adjunct. I’ve seen that, too. It would hard not to resent it. And thanks for sharing your inmate pen-pal decision. I haven’t done that, myself, but I can certainly see where that relationship fills a major void. Oh, and I love that ‘photo you shared!

  2. Wow, you are so busy. I’m glad you found something more rewarding than the adjunct professor job. That would upset me as well. You will find your groove, just give it time.

  3. Great update on what’s going on with you! I’m glad you decided to make such a big part of you life something you enjoy and aren’t consumed with for 40 or more hours a week. I think I mentioned to you once that I had the Bright idea of how amazing it would be to work at the library but when I started looking at my local library branches I didn’t have the right degree. *Sigh*

    Really glad to hear you are doing well and trying to figure out how this change is changing your day to day.

    • Thanks, Shell! I think we’ve all fantasized about libraries and don’t know much about what the employees do. The librarian is trained to find patrons resources without bias, otherwise one person could start shaping the public’s ideas. That’s crazy. How have you been?

      • Well I guess I need to find a more ideal job that includes reading books and sharing them! 😉 I’m doing ok, need to catch up on some reviews, I’ve been absent on my blog so I need to work on some things soon.

  4. That’s a lot that’s happened! Congratulations on the new gig! Sounds like it is perfect for you right now. That’s crazy that someone without the right degree can’t comment on people’s book selections!! What is even the point? I love that you are doing that pen pal program even though it clearly comes with big responsibility.

    • Thank you so much for your encouraging words! It is interesting about the library, but I get it. If one person in the right position could slowly affect the public’s reading choices, that could be dangerous.

    • Thanks, Callum! I do feel more valued, and knowing that I’m an hourly employee takes off some of the stress. A stipend or salary makes it very hard to feel like any task is complete because it could always be better.

  5. Congratulations on everything! You’ve definitely had a lot going on, but sounds like things are settling down for you in the best way possible!! A production manager totally sounds like a rewarding-ly busy, fun-as-heck job.. The inmate pen pal system sounds fascinating as well! Sending you great vibes!

      • You’re welcome! I’d be anxiously awaiting a response too—but I don’t think you have anything to worry about! I’m sure they’ll be ecstatic to get a letter and get to know somebody new. Pen pals are always exciting and I think even the most mundane letters are fun just because it’s like “Wow I got a letter!” 😊

  6. Those are certainly big changes. One year, many moons ago when I worked at an education facility, I decided based on that experience that I never ever wanted a job again where I dreaded getting up in the morning. Of course some people don’t have the ability to choose but if you can, then you have to go with what feels right for you. That job in the library would probably have driven you nuts after a while – imagine being banned from saying anything about any book – they may as well just have a machine on the desk. Youve landed somewhere that feels a much better fit for you…..

    • My mom said something similar about that job turning me into a machine if I’m just expected to scan books if someone can’t figure out how to do it themselves. Were you a teacher or an administrator in the education facility?

      • No, I was communications manager so responsible for a great project to design a new brand. Unfortunately my manager was useless and ineffectual and I had a very spiteful so-called colleague

  7. I’m so glad you found a job you’re enjoying! Congrats! It is so weird to me that a person who works at a library wouldn’t be able to recommend books. I can say that if you want a job where you recommend books, a bookstore can be a great position!

    • I keep thinking about WHY someone can’t recommend books unless they have a degree that teaches them to do so, and it makes sense. If one person has the ability to shape what the public reads, what a might position that is — and dangerous, too. Bookstores obviously have “recommended reads” sections, but if they’re pushing an agenda, that’s a position of power, too. There is an indie bookstore I enjoy because they carry all the small-press stuff I like to read, but they also have big displays of anti-Trump books. I hate every ounce of that person, but I think it’s only fair to maybe have a biography or something, too, on display.

      • That’s a good perspective and one I hadn’t considered before. There can be a lot of power in book recommendations. I’m not one to ask recommendations of library or bookstore staff much. Partly because I never lack ideas of what to read but mostly because I’m not sure I’ll enjoy the same things as a complete stranger. I have found librarians to be helpful when finding new books for my kids or bookstore staff when it comes to buying books for others.

  8. Glad you found a job you enjoy, you know how big I am on that. Can’t believe those rules about who is allowed to recommend books in a library, I talk to all my librarians.

    I love reading GTL so hope you come up with a routine that keeps you in our inboxes, without it becoming a chore, of course.

    • Seeing all the comments on here makes me feel like it’s home to blog at Grab the Lapels, but a lot of these voices I don’t hear very often. I have to remind myself that if Grab the Lapels isn’t for me, it isn’t for anyone. I can’t write for an audience bigger than myself, or with bigger expectations because blogs are a dime a dozen.

  9. Whoa this is all very big news.

    Firstly-who in an interview says that to you-‘we’re interviewing you!’-what a twit that person is
    Secondly, good for you for realizing there was something wrong in your life and changing it!
    Lastly-writing to inmates sounds amazing, and after just reading The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner, a badly needed thing! Good on ya

    • I just Googled The Mars Room, and while it sounds excellent, I’m always worried about reading fictionalized accounts of prison. People often fall to stereotypes from movies, though prisons are far more complex than what we see on TV. I’m eagerly awaiting word back from my two pals. Actually, I have three pen pals; I made a blogger friend years ago who was in high school at the time. Now she’s in college, and she writes letters to me. 🙂

      • oh sweet! Well apparently Kushner spent lots of time in prisons, talking to prisoners, but of course, not being familiar with the prison system myself I wouldn’t know how authentic her depictions are!

  10. I find this post really inspiring. It takes a lot of courage (for most people, anyway) to make such a big job/career change. But it’s so worth it when you can find a job that makes you happy. And I hope you’ve found it! I don’t think you would have wanted to work at that library anyway if you had to work with that woman who wouldn’t answer your question. “Twit” is the perfect word for her – Thank you, Anne!

    It’s kind of crazy that you wouldn’t have been allowed to recommend books to patrons. A library clerk is what I am right now (part-time), and I’m *encouraged* to help patrons with whatever they want. (Except for their personal and financial accounts.)

    I also hope that you find writing to inmates rewarding. I know they are lucky to have *you* write to them!

    • I tried once in 2014 to make a move to another career or job, but I was so overwhelmed and depressed that the time that I spend an entire semester just sitting at home and teaching the cat how to sit for a treat (no joke). I’m not sure what inspired the bravery this time except fear. The fear of waking up each morning, convinced I don’t know what I’m doing and will never teach another class properly. Fear of going to sleep because I know I’ll have nightmares about the day.

  11. Good for you for making a change – it’s so much easier just to stay in a job even when it’s become a drag. Hope the new one gives you lots of challenges and satisfaction! And if it lets you sleep in in the mornings, well… BONUS!!! 😀

  12. Wow, this was such an interesting read! I had a brief stint at a library just as a page (and I’d still be there if I could, but I moved!), and I loved it. I also never heard this thing about not being able to discuss books with patrons! People didn’t generally ask me for recommendations, but I was allowed to answer if they did, and I don’t have a master’s in library science! I wonder how common that policy is because it sounds crazy, and I’ve never heard of it from any of my friends who work at libraries either. Glad to hear you got a different job that sounds a little less weird. (Because asking people what they like about their job is pretty typical!)

    On the other hand, I thought my library interview was weird, and someone told me it might be because it’s a government job and they need to ask potential employees all the same questions. So when I asked what they meant by “Are you good with computers?” (because seriously what does that mean?), they basically just kept saying, “Are you good with computers?” Maybe this lady decided she couldn’t answer your questions for some reason related to this.

    Also, yeah, adjuncting is hard, and it’s a shame adjuncts are looked down on for doing the SAME teaching as tenured professors for less money.

    • What’s weird is at the first library interview I said I was surprised that they didn’t ask what I’d been reading lately. At the other library interview, I said the same thing, except they stated they are never allowed to ask what I’m reading. Although it seems draconian, I think the second library is right. When I was in grad school, I asked a librarian if she could pull up a list of the books I had borrowed in the last two years from that university’s library because I couldn’t think of the name of a text I had used. She said there are zero records of what we’ve read in case the FBI wants to know. Like, this was the University of Notre Dame. Whoa.

  13. I’ve never heard of such a policy at a library! And I can’t imagine it’s good for patrons, either. They aren’t likely to be able to distinguish different types of their employees or their roles, much less the difference between someone who has an MLIS or not. Also, I don’t think most clerks would even have a Master’s? So…patrons checking out can’t have a friendly chat about books with anyone? They just check out in awkward silence or chat about the weather or… what?

    Anyway, I’m glad you found a job you like! Adjuncting is a difficult, thankless task. You’re basically doing the same work as a professor, but with less pay, no benefits, a bad office, and no job security. But colleges keep talking about how committed they are to breaking down power structures to help the less privileged while they’re literally built on the backs of people who can’t pay their bills. And they’re all about workers’ rights until their own employees try to unionize. I think it’s a scandal, honestly.

    • It’s a massive scandal, and about 54% of all faculty in the US are adjuncts. I know it’s a scandal and choose to be part of it, until I couldn’t be anymore.

      About libraries, no, I was told I can’t comment on what someone is checking out. What if I say it’s a terrible book and they don’t read it? I’ve influenced patrons in a place of free information, etc.

      • Well, it makes sense. People spend years getting advanced degrees and they want to use them! It’s a shame colleges don’t give them a better opportunity to do so. However, I don’t think this is likely to change as most students don’t know the difference between an adjunct or a professor and aren’t likely to pressure their schools to pay them more–especially if schools suggest that would mean raising tuition or cutting other services.

        But they’re getting your free opinion in a place of free information! XD Seriously, I don’t understand why people are so afraid of disagreement. I think someone disliking a book I like could be someone I could have a great conversation with!

  14. What a big change, and that sounds so positive. You’ve always struck me as someone who wants to make a change in the world and this new job sounds perfect.

    if libraries there are like libraries here, then you’re well shot of that job idea. Very rigid thinking and a lot of use of over-qualified people exploited because they love books and reading and libraries.

    This is so exciting and I’m so pleased for you.

    By the way, if you were looking for my book blog to follow it’s at http://www.librofulltime.wordpress.com – I noticed you followed my editing one (thankyou – must actually get back to updating that!) but you might have been after my books, reading, writing and running one.

      • Erm, haven’t blogged on that blog since July is what I’ve done there! I changed my working hours and have a full customer roster so I’ve been taking better care of my book blog than my professional one … I haven’t changed the book once but not sure you were following that. But you’ve signed up again so all should be fine (I hope). There will be a running post on Sunday so that’s a good check.

  15. Oh wow! So much going on for you! It’s so exciting and scary to try something new.
    And wow, you can’t even discuss a book at the library without a masters of library science?? What happens if someone were to ask you about a particular book – would you then have to have them talk to someone else? This is very odd, but actually helps clarify some things in my own library. I’m there all the time, and not once has anyone who checked me out commented on any of the books I check out – I’ve always found that a bit unusual, as when I buy stuff at a bookstore, the salesperson generally comments, but I’ve never gotten a comment at the library. I would find it so hard not to comment on what people check out!
    Sounds like your new theatre job is amazing and that you are enjoying it. Your enjoyment really comes out in your writing about your new job. Glad to hear things are going well for you!

    • Yeah, during the interview one question was “What do you say when someone checks out a book, even if you don’t like or recommend that book?” and the answer is NOTHING. I’m glad someone else has noticed this. All the other comments on this post are how people can’t believe it’s true. But yes, basically I would have had to direct a patron to a trained librarian who would show them materials without making too specific of a recommendation and sway the person’s opinion.

      I do love the theater job, though right now there are so many auditions, and it’s hard to keep up with them. Some need piano players, which I don’t seem to find out until a few hours before the piano player is needed! Ack! We’ll get better, though.

  16. There is a massive problem with the way academic contracts work in the UK, too, though I have been lucky enough to get a permanent position fairly early in my career. It sounds like your new theatre job is a really different environment and I hope you really enjoy it!

  17. Thanks for the update. I had no idea there were so many limitations on the people at the check out desk in the library, but now that you’ve mentioned it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard them say anything to me or my kids apart from pleasantries. Congratulations on your job at the theatre. It sounds like a wonderful, community-oriented place.

  18. I’ve never heard of the Adopt an Inmate program. Thank you for sharing! I love the idea behind it– but I will admit, I’m a bit anxious about trying it. What would I say to such a person? I am terrible about talking about myself with those I love most, let alone a complete stranger… have you heard back from your inmate penpals yet?

    In other news: ALL THE GREAT THINGS FOR YOU! YAAAAAAY! I feel so honored to have known about most of this ahead of time. Thank you so much for your wonderful friendship! ❤

  19. Whoa! Congrats on the new job! I’m sure it will take a little while to adjust to the new hours. Yay for reduced work hours and reduced stress 🙂

    “It turns out, for 1st Amendment reasons, I’m not allowed to say anything about books. I can’t comment on what someone is reading, nor can I recommend anything. Only a person with a Master’s in Library Science can point readers to potential books. I’m now wondering if working at libraries isn’t as dreamy as I thought.”

    Wait. You are telling me if I go to my library tomorrow, the front desk clerk wouldn’t be able to recommend books?! I mean. I guess I’ve never asked for book recommendations since I feel like I’m already “in the know” but this is crazy!!!! I never knew this.

Insert 2 Cents Here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s