Saturday, October 3, 2009

No Rest for the Weary; or, A Day in the Life of the Overworked and Underpaid

Last night I hung out with one of my BFFs. David was at the Cardinals' game and I was looking forward to a girlie night of talking and hair dying and wine drinking and Veronica Mars watching. And that all happened. But I also fell asleep on the couch during the said Veronica Mars watching. At approximately 9:30pm.


The problem is that my MWF schedule just wears me out. It feels hard to justify because I think people are going to look at me skeptically and say "Seriously? Are you complaining about working two hours a day three days a week?"

Well I'm not really complaining about my teaching schedule. But it is not quite that simple. It's the whole thing taken together: the teaching, the commuting, the feeling like I want to be a good instructor but I also have to be selfish with my time so I can do my own work so I have to get as much done on those three days as possible so I can totally dedicate Tuesday and Thursdays only to my dissertation, which never happens entirely. And also I'd like to find time to hang out with my husband and watch the three episodes of Glee that are waiting for me in my DVR, thank you very much.

On MWF I teach from 11-12 and from 2-3. On two different campuses. So while the spread out schedule makes sense in terms of getting from one place to another without losing my mind or skipping lunch (which would result in me losing my mind). But it also forces me to be really organized so I don't grab the wrong folder or forget to bring the right books. It means I have to carry a really heavy bag around with me everywhere I go. And it means that I have to make the most of small chunks of time because I don't have a nice big block (like, say, all morning or all afternoon, in which to do my planning). And on MWF, my own work on the dissertation is simply impossible but that doesn't keep me from feeling guilty about not working on it. So a typical teaching day goes something like this...

Get up at 7:30. Brush teeth, feed dog, eat breakfast, check e-mail, read NYT headlines. Last-minute plans for class, if necessary.

8:30. Walk dog while listening to NPR on mp3 player/radio.

9:00. Shower, make lunch, get dressed, get ready, check e-mail once more.

10:20. Leave for first class, carrying heavy bag with books and notebooks, lunch bag, water bottle, smaller bag with library books and extra pair of comfortable walking shoes.

10:40. Arrive on campus, park in parking garage, grab the heavy bag and water bottle, leave everything else. Walk down four flights of stairs and across campus to English dept. office, chat with office adminstrator, check mailbox, make photocopies. Walk to class.

11:00. Teach History of the English Novel (thank the Lord we are through with Pamela and have moved into the 19th century. I heart you, Jane Austen.)

12:00. Class is over. Walk back to parking garage. Take elevator or stairs depending on practicality of footwear. Drive from parking garage to closest Metro stop. Drag all bags with me up to platform to wait for train.

12:22. Metro train arrives. Find seat, switch to comfortable shoes.

12:26. Metro train leaves station. Read Northanger Abbey or whatever novel I'm currently teaching.

12:39. Metro train arrives at other college campus. Get off metro, walk a long way across campus to English department and downstairs to my windowless office.

12:55. Walk upstairs to main department office. Make photocopies, fill water bottle, microwave leftovers for lunch.

1:00. Eat lunch at desk in my office. Chat with colleagues. Go over lesson plans for next class. Read novel for novels class. Check e-mail. Change back into cute shoes before going to teach.

2:00. Teach composition course to freshmen who are rather endearing but require excessive handholding. Find myself saying things like, "If you don't own a stapler, you need to borrow or purchase one."

3:00. Class is over. Return to office. Meet with neurotic freshman who claims to be "confused" about assignment even though I have gone over it so many times in class I could recite the damn thing backwards. In pig Latin. Explain it calmly and in a friendly but professional tone of voice even though I want to roll my eyes and smack him upside the head.

3:30. Check homework that I collected from composition class. Go to library, return books, and check out new books. Return to office and work on lesson plans for next class. E-mail adviser. E-mail colleagues about workshopping job search material. E-mail professors about job search. E-mail students who have swine flu. E-mail librarian who will be meeting with my class. E-mail office administrator about funding question. E-mail self notes/assignments/handouts that I've created while class planning.

5:15. Look at watch. Wonder where time went and what the weather is like outside. Wish for an office with windows. Finish up final tasks.

5:30. Change back to comfortable shoes. Gather up heavy bag of books and notebooks. Wish the composition text book did not weigh five pounds. Walk back to Metro station carrying big bag, bag of library books and shoes, lunch bag, and water bottle. Feel like pack mule.

5:38. Arrive at Metro station, having missed train by three minutes.

5:49. Next train arrives. Read novel for class the next day and/or review planner for what I need to get done the next day.

6:05. Arrive at Metro stop where car is parked. Walk to car. Drive home. Eat dinner. Drink glass of wine. Collapse.

Schedule varies depending on whether I have additional meetings on campus, lengthier papers to grade, or coffee dates with friends. All of which put me home closer to 7:30pm. And even the coffee dates with friends used to be way more fun before we all got serious about the job market stuff and started making everything a "working date." I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant with friends this week and we spent the hour reading and critiquing each others' CVs with only the briefest conversation about the upcoming Twilight movie and the almost as exciting Sherlock Holmes movie that reportedly has some homoerotic undertones! As exciting as these topics were, we quickly put ourselves back on task. Oh how I miss the carefree days of yore.

So anyway, Friday I followed this schedule pretty much to the T, and by the time I got home and made dinner and cleaned up dinner and worked on my CV and job letter and dyed Jamie's hair and sat down to watch Veronica, I was done for. Fell dead asleep on the couch and woke up to Jamie patting my hair and telling me she was going to head home. What an awesome hostess I am.

Anyway, that's my tiring life at the moment. But I'm having a nice weekend to help make up for it. Hope you find your weekend relaxing and rejuvenating!

[And also: if you feel compelled to remark that my bag might be lighter if I simply wore comfortable shoes instead of carrying an extra pair around with me, to you I say: Shut It. Life is not really worth living if I have to wear ugly shoes. This is one of key the reasons I didn't go into health care or cosmetology, people.]

1 comment:

  1. Would a bag w/ wheels help? Or a service dog who could help carry?