Monday, April 4, 2011

Bouyant Plans: More Notes from the Non-Tenure Stream


One of my self-described roles here at Hook&Eye is to be a voice from the non-tenured stream. While I certainly don't pretend to be the voice of or a voice for CLTAs, LTAs, and sessionals I did make a goal for myself to speak as frankly as possible about my life as a limited term appointment who is on the job market. As I discovered in one of my earliest posts, being frank--especially in public!-- feels risky. Honestly, sometimes I worry that speaking as a non-tenured faculty member will pigeon hole me as the non-tenured faculty member... But I digress.

So let me fess up: in the last month or so my deliberately cultivated and self-preserving pluck has been worn a bit thin. I've been down, both bogged down and blue. Part of this is March, which is a notoriously difficult month for many of us. Part of this is the resounding number of rejections I've received in the last month (jobs, grants). Part of it is the ennui that comes with thinking "what has all this work accomplished?" And part of my pluck has been worn down by things I can't write about on the blog despite the fact that they might well be the most informative and useful for others in a similar limited term position.

But, as my dear friend and mentor reminded me earlier this week, it gets better. As we head into the last week(s) of the term I find my spirits lifting, and part of that lifting is due to the "free time" that is factored into my current contract. I'm on a 10-month contract that ends next month, and while a new contract begins in August, for the months of June and July I am technically unemployed. Why "free"? Because in the meantime I'll be busy working on the research and writing that is quite difficult to maintain when teaching an overload. In the coming months I'm aiming to revise and resubmit an article, write three (lengthy) book reviews, prepare a book proposal, and write three conference papers (one of which I intend to turn into an article). Oh yes, and plot out my lectures for fall. And have regular picnics at the lake. Ooh, and finally take a photography class so that I can take pictures like this one by Eric Johansson! Hmm. When typed out that looks like quite a bit.

Back in September I wrote a post about resolutions for the new school year. Most of these resolutions had to do with maintaining a a regular writing schedule (er...), keeping class preparation to a reasonable amount of time (hah!), and keeping myself healthful and active (not bad, actually). Readers, it is time for me to revisit those resolutions.

In the next several weeks I'll be planing out my summer plans, the work as well as the play. I wonder if, like me, you have grand plans for both? How do you intend to both refuel and produce over the summer months? How do you manage your non-teaching time?

7 comments:

  1. Grand plans, grand plans from the student-stream! Learning a language, spending quality time at the yoga studio, reading (for fun! what novelty), riding a bicyclette, and giving my time to those I've neglected while studying. Writing the plans out solidifies them, makes them real, and makes me yearn!

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  2. Great post, Erin--it can be hard to admit that our own apples don't seem so shiny to us, partiularly when you feel like you need to be always up and always on, as a condition of your temporary-but-always-moving-forward employment. What a pain in the ass.

    Your 'free' two months sound busier than a lot of four months of scheduled activity. Holy smoke!

    One bit of advice: the only way I ever managed to cultivate a daily writing habit, an honest to god for real 9 workdays out of 10 writing habit, was by joining Academic Ladder's writing club. It seems so hokey, and it costs money, but now I actually do write every day. Miracle. Totally the peer pressure that did it .....

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  3. I am going to travel. A lot. For work, almost entirely, but a change is as good as a - yadda, yadda. Denmark!

    And plan my pre-sabbatical year to maximize my (deferred, thus long-awaited) sabbatical.

    And practice saying no, keep up my return to yoga, wear flip-flops as much as I can, and go to Cows at least three times a month. Come with?

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  4. Here's my spring/summer:

    1. April-June: write two conference papers, work on my book manuscript. Go to my dad's 80th birthday celebration. Go to Vegas for a week.

    2. July/Aug: vacation with partner in Europe, work on book, prep courses for fall term.

    Advice (unsolicited): take ALL the vacation your rank assigns to you. Do not work on vacation. And knock off for a gin and tonic on the deck when the softness of evening draws you away from your desk.

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  5. Dear all, I think i will take A's advice and join a writing club, but I shall balance this virtue with other virtues: bike rides, ice cream, and gin on a porch!

    Thanks to you all for your diverse suggestions and (really, I solicited) wise advice.

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  6. Summer Plans:
    1) Enjoy a vacation in Europe with my partner.
    2) Complete the language requirements for my degree.
    3) Get a good start on reading for my exams/long thesis proposal.
    4) Revise and submit at least one paper from last year's coursework.
    5) Finish nesting in time for baby's arrival (yay)!

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  7. I most often need refueling on the teaching side, so I try to take up something new, something that reminds me what it's like to be an entry-level student and, at the same time, something that's low stakes so I can side-step my own perfectionism. I'm thinking oil-painting and gardening this summer, since I only scratched the surface with both last year.

    Something else I try to remember is that if I've spent much of the teaching term squeezing work into evenings and weekends, I need to work shorter days/weeks in the summer. Not only do I need processing time for my research (time best spent on the beach, in a spa, or even hiding out in matinee), but I also need to balance out the work work work voice and relearn how to take down time. I find it's important to reset my base line work ethic in the summer, or I'll just start in September already over-worked.

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