Sunday, September 26, 2010

Second Try Worked!

The original proposal I sent in for an ASECS panel did not get accepted, but within an hour, I had it revised and sent it off to a proposed roundtable, and it was accepted--yay! So, with the exception of actually landing a job, I have accomplished 2 of my 3 professional goals for the academic year:

1) Get something accepted for publication
2) Get something accepted for ASECS

Go team!

This past week has been really rough because Eliza started her new an official school. It's an international school based on the British curriculum system. Most of the students are either Dutch or American, but she'll still be gettting Arabic lessons, so I hope she remembers something from the spring. She's got the uniform (which is darling!), the school-issued bag, PE kit, and everything. I love the school and her teacher, and it will be a great experience for her. The only downside is that she has to be there by 7:30 a.m.!! ACK! I know, I know...lots of parents have to drop their kids off at this time to be at work by 8:00, but it's been a heck of a long time since *I've* been one of those parents, so it will take some adjusting. Anyway, lots of sleep deprivation and trying to figure out how to balance the research needed to complete this essay, get grading under control, and apply for jobs has ensued. I've finished all but a few of my job letters, and I think I have a plan for scheduling each type of "work": 1 day job stuff, 1 day of all teaching stuff, and 3 days of solid research & writing. More realistically, this means some of my grading will have to come home with me on occasion, but I've done that before, so no big deal.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

And Now, to Write the Thing...While on the Market

So, I am very excited to have something accepted for publication, yes? Except now I'm stressing. This is the first thing I will have written without my advisor sort of overseeing the project. The co-editors e-mailed to let me know that they deadline for essays is January 31st. Is this a good amount of time? Shorter than usual? Longer? I have no idea what normal is here. I don't think there will be any problem meeting the deadline, but I just feel the pressure of knowing this essay needs to be perfect: well written, well researched, innovative, and provocative. It's been a while since I've been in the research/drafting mode, so I'm still trying to figure out a realistic 3-4 pages a week plus the researching that needs to be done as I write....and send out job materials.

Yes, the MLA job list came out last week, and I had to laugh out loud at some of the positions. Were they in my field? Sure. But, will schools like Georgetown, Cornell, Columbia, and Dartmouth hire me? I doubt it. Of course, I'll apply anyway because I'm crazy like that. My advisor says they are "possibles." Meh. There's actually a job at a very good state school, an R1, where I know one of the department faculty who's in my field pretty well. I've worked with her before, and I adore her and her work. She's brilliant, productive, and very supportive of junior scholars. I'm hoping that it will help to know someone on the inside, though it may not count for anything at all. I'm also hoping that the MLA list gets much longer very soon. Right now, there are about 23 jobs for which I'm applying (only 2 of those are generalist positions, and 1 is a postdoc). I'm also hoping that some smaller schools start placing ads in my area because the ones that are hiring now would be really long-shots for me.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

I'm Getting Published!

Woohoo!! The proposal I submitted to an edited collection on a non-dissertation-related topic has been accepted for publication! Very exciting, considering the proposal I submitted for the ASECS panel did not get accepted (but I'm trying out a second option there).

Anywho, totally excited about getting published, especially with a good press, but I'm already feeling the stress of the fact that a) the essay has yet to be written and b) there is a deadline--eek. I don't know how much time is usually given for these things, but they want my essay by January 31st, because the senior editor at the press wants to move quickly on the collection, having it out/published in 2012. So, I have approximately 3-4 months to complete the research for and write this 20-25 page addition to preparing all the job letters, materials, etc. I can do this, right? I have to do this!

I'm doing this!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Speaking of Teaching...A Question for Readers

There's a good chance that if I asked to teach it, I could probably get a section of Technical Writing to teach in the spring semester. Should I ask?

On the plus side: the experience. I can say, "Why yes, I'm teaching that next semester, so of course I'm qualified to teach technical writing."

On the down side: it would be a new prep and one that I'm bored just thinking about (if I'm being totally honest).

What say you? Just get it over with?

Dude Who Got the Job

I found out who got the job I interviewed for at the end of the summer, and I totally understand why I didn't get the job: I was too research-y.

Dude Who Got the Job (DWGJ) had been an adjunct at a small, combined/regional branch of a state school and had many years of teaching experience (though probably not too many more than myself). He'd been adjuncting since 2001, and though his listed specialty was more of a fit with the job ad, he'd never published anything, nor were there any conference papers to his name since earning the PhD.

When asked in the interview about my research, I had three projects to discuss with them, two of which were publication opportunities (one article and the dissertation/book manuscript). For a teaching school, I can see how I would look like a candidate that cared a great deal about my research, whereas DWGJ had the past nine years to teach all sorts of introductory literature and writing courses (including tech writing, which I've never taught) and had demonstrated the ability to carry a 4/4 (at least) teaching load.

Lesson learned: try to recognize when a school may be asking about research in order to determine what kind of teacher you are/will be.

Adult Children

Hubby and I have come to the conclusion that having adult children must be a difficult thing. Groundbreaking, I know, but there you have it.

Lately we have seen an unhealthy cycle of behavior, wherein my oldest daughter gets in trouble, gets very upset (usually the level of reaction is disproportionate to the consequence she is faced with), and then calls my mother. A recent example is that she was at a sleepover and stayed up until 4:30 a.m.(!), after being told explicitly by her friend's mother (at 3:30 a.m.) to go to bed. Her consequence was being grounded from the computer, DVDs, and playing outside with friends for the remaining four days of school break. Enraged and in tears, off to the computer she goes to Skype with my mom, sobbing the whole time, giving an incomplete account of the events, then adding how unhappy she is at school and how mean people are to her (news to me?!). This amounts to her "tattling" on me, and then my mom asks to speak with me.

Not cool people. My mom claims that she's merely there to listen to her granddaughter anytime she needs to talk, thereby implying that I am not, but she questions me as if she has any clue what goes on in our house--half a world away--with our children! Needless to say, I was in no mood to have a conversation with her about my parenting, and I am still shocked that (after raising me!!) she can't see how she's being manipulated.

I realize it must be difficult, as a grandparent, to get a phone call from a grandchild who is upset and for whom you can do nothing because of, among other things, a huge distance of space separating you. I understand that, as a grandparent, your perspective as someone outside the household may be different from those on the inside, which perhaps enables you to notice things the "insiders" don't notice. However, you (the grandparent) are NOT the Mama (or the Daddy)! You have to realize that your adult children may not parent the same way you did, and this could actually be a good thing. We understand your experience and wisdom, but we also deserve some respect for the hard work we do every day with our children. Considering that my mom has never really had to co-parent (not only b/c my parents divorced when I was 10, but also b/c my dad was rarely home when they were married), and considering that she has never experienced a blended family, I really don't see how she thinks she can make judgements about the way Hubby and I parent our children.

The only conclusion I can come to is that having grown-up kids is just as hard as having young ones. They drive you crazy. And when they're young, it's your job to jump in, correct, play judge and referee, and dole out consequences. When they're adults, especially adults with kids of their own, they still drive you crazy....But you're supposed to sit still and keep quiet, at least until your opinion, advice, etc. is requested. This must be maddening. I hope I'll remember it when I'm a grandparent.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Post-Dissertation Productivity: Or, One of the Perks of My Job

Now that the dissertation is finished, I am able to fully realize what is likely the biggest benefit to this job (second, perhaps, to the money): TIME!

I am scheduled to teach 2 classes each semester. This semester, one of those classes has only 2 students enrolled. Despite all logic and normal operations of any university, the powers that be are requiring that this course continue to be offered. So, I have made this class as easy on myself and the students as possible, and suffice it to say that this class takes up less than 2 hours per week of my time. My other class, a basic intro to rhet/comp class, is made up of 12 students. I have taught this course many times over the past 9 years, so there is little prep to be done. The time spent is on reading, commenting on, and grading papers. Since there are only 12 students, though, this is a fairly quick process, leaving me with plenty of time to concentrate on my own work: preparing job market materials, researching, and revising.

Thus far, I've already submitted an essay proposal for an edited collection, and I just submitted a paper proposal for an ASECS panel. The panel organizer is a graduate student I met a couple years ago at a conference in England, and I talked with her again at the 2009 ASECS conference, so I'm hoping (maybe foolishly) that she'll remember me and think "Oh yes, she's a smart person with good ideas...of course I'll accept her paper." Doesn't really matter, because I'm going to the conference whether the proposal is accepted or not. I have also significantly revised my teaching philosophy after noticing some weak spots, reflecting on my experience teaching abroad this past year, and reading some damn fine teaching statements from other people in the field.

The only major task I have yet to finish up is revising my writing sample/journal article submission. I have about 10 things I need to address, change, develop, etc. and then it will be ready to go. It feels so good to be able to choose what I want to work on each day, and it feels even better having the time to get finished what needs to be finished. I know that I'm lucky in the sense that most people do not have this experience as lecturers or graduate students going on the market, and I just hope that the extra time I'm spending on crafting a strong job letter, teaching statement, etc. will pay off in the form of a job!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Crazy Pills

During the process of prepping for the interview I had at the end of the summer, I realized that I would likely go crazy this fall. Even though I spent two days preparing for every possible question, and even though I had answers prepared, examples ready to give, and good questions to ask, I lay awake at night wondering what else I might be missing. I literally lay awake until 4:00 a.m. one night, and that's when it hit me: this is what it will be like in the fall. This is what the job market will do to me. I will be a crazy (and sleep-deprived) person because I don't have the ability to shut my brain off. When there is uncertainty in my life, I get extremely anxious, to the point that I physically, mentally cannot stop myself from trying to think of all the possible scenarios that might play out.* I know that lots of people say, "Just don't worry about what you can't control," but easier said than done. I'm a control freak. Erego, if I'm not controlling things, I'm crazy.

Knowing this about myself, and knowing that, in Doha (and in many Muslim countries) medical conditions like anxiety, depression, ADHD, etc. are all lumped into the category of mental illness and thus are pretty much ignored (certainly not treated by experts), I knew I had to do something before we left the States. So, while back in College Town for my graduation, I went to see our family physician. He'd seen me last year when I was having severe anxiety problems just before our move overseas. I explained that the anxiety had never really gone away. It would settle for a while (like after we got most of our major settling in done in Doha), but then it would come back with the next big "Thing" (i.e. the last push on the dissertation and the defense). But what I experienced before and just after the job interview was awful. I also told him how my expat experience has been overall--not the best, though I've survived. Ultimately, he believed it would be best to put me on a maintenance medication, something I take daily for the anxiety (and sometimes depression) that I've experienced since moving here. He also gave me a prescription for another anti-anxiety medication to be taken as needed, during severe episodes of anxiety (like the inability to shut my mind off from the worrying, planning, listing, etc.).

So there you have it....I'm on crazy pills. I don't like it, but I have to be honest and admit that they've helped. I truly feel better. I don't know that I've ever been a big believer in the power of anti-depressant/anti-anxiety medication, but I know that my mood is improved. I feel like things roll off my shoulders a bit easier. It's taken some time to get over the fatigue the daily medication has caused, but the overall result is very positive. The bottom line is that I feel less stressed on a daily basis.

Now, this could absolutely change once the full swing of the semester hits and the job list comes out in a few weeks. But for now, I feel like a better, less crazy, me.

* The most recent example is me laying in bed, wide awake, a few nights ago, wondering when it would be okay to start boxing up some know, for our repatriation next summer!