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.
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).
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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!