Friday, April 11, 2008

to love that well which thou must leave ere long

"Have I told you this before?"

"No, we only met about half an hour ago."

"So little time to pass?" said Merlyn, and a big tear ran down to the end of his nose.

-- T. H. White

So it is April again. A chillier sort of April than the ones they have at home, with barer trees, but recognizably spring.

Three weeks of classes left. Two and a half, actually, since I have another campus interview coming up (apparently the phone interview on Tuesday did not go as badly as I thought it did), but at this point I have had SO many unsuccessful campus interviews that I'm not holding out a lot of hope. There is still a possibility of good news from the Last Chance Saloon (now the Second-Last-Chance Saloon, I guess), or I might be able to score a VAP or lecturer position somewhere. I was, after all, in exactly the same position this time last year. Late-season miracles seem to be my specialty.

If not -- well, I have a tentative offer of a summer adjunct position back in Parental City; the pay is peanuts, but the class sounds interesting, and it will, at least, delay my unceremonious exit from the profession by a couple of months. This is starting to seem like a good enough reason to take it.

For some reason, all the uncertainty seems to remind me, all too sharply, of how many things I love and value about this profession. I remember feeling this way last year, as well. I ought to know better. I know by now that the system is badly screwed up, that it's a lot of work for little reward, and that the compulsion that keeps desperate jobseekers checking the MLA list is not so very different from a gambling addiction. I know, also, that I'm not a particularly brilliant or inspiring teacher, although I hope I'm at least competent, and I have never cherished the illusion that anyone is interested in my scholarship except myself (and that's on a good day).

But, but, but. An uncertain and precarious future sharpens your focus. You notice the here and now, even in April (and I am used to April being a blur of paperwork and imperatives). Three students from the Honors seminar talking excitedly about their final project. Clusters of violets along the paths, and mornings that begin late enough to notice them. Showing Branagh's rendition of the St. Crispin's Day speech to students who have never seen it. If I never work in academia again, I want to remember these things.

If I never work in academia again, I'll be glad I had them.


Sisyphus said...

Ahhh, yes. I know exactly what you mean.

and that the compulsion that keeps desperate jobseekers checking the MLA list is not so very different from a gambling addiction.

You hadda put it that way, huh. I mean the whole system is like trying to get rich at Vegas. Sigh.

I wish you the best of luck with your campus visits! I'm rapidly approaching the same position as you.

(And lest you actually believe you are the only person interested in your research: Pirates!)

Renaissance Girl said...

What a beautiful post, FP. It's probably a good model for all of us to follow: see the things at hand, the pleasures of what we get to do in whatever field we work, and love them accordingly.

Fretful Porpentine said...

Sisyphus -- Alas, none of my academic work is actually about pirates, as opposed to occasionally being about plays that have pirates in them.

And right now, I feel so much like a gambler who swears the next roll of the dice will be her last...

RG -- Thanks!