Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Off the Grid - so much work, so few jobs

Am now fairly well convinced that there's plenty of work out there, even for rapidly aging boomers, but there are no jobs. Jobs, after all, come with expenses. Employers must pay insurance, workers comp, overhead, attaboys, training, all that Xeroxing. Work is free!

I'll be teaching a full load this Fall. Three classes at the Art Institute in Decatur and one (I hope) at Georgia Perimeter. It's amazing how we come full circle. In fact, I wonder why I ever left home. I started my college career at a community college about as unprepared for the collegiate experience as anyone else who had drifted through high school with little focus beyond the desire to "be cool."

Like the people I'll be working with, I made my share of inadvertent bad choices, went for the easy path, got distracted by emotions I couldn't put names to and sucked into the role of daughter of an anxious narcissist.  But I wrote my way through it and while I wasn't much of a writer and kept just a small diary, the daily exercise kept me grounded in myself. It wasn't much, but it was something.

What I hope to share with the GPC students is that community college is as good a start as any. We all start somewhere after all. Like those at Ashford and even AIA-D, these students come with burdens that won't be shucked off just because they've completed the paperwork, bought themselves new pens and managed to find the right building. Nothing leaves our head for long. The point is to make use of what we've done and learn how to think without letting emotions get in the way. To learn how to distinguish between an opinion and a heartfelt belief.

All of which is to say I'm going to be hugely busy this fall. Not sure I'll have the time I'd like for this forum, or the time to finish posting Dangerous Book. I'll do my best.

See you on the other side.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Off the Grid - 3, many jobs now?

For a person with no job, I've been very busy working at my assorted part-time jobs this summer.
The good news is my new (ish)  respect for the working poor and everyone else who pushes a rock up a hill every day. I guess I didn't need those illusions after all.

As the Knuckle used to say, "Be glad you're not working in a factory." True enough, though grading papers for the online college can often feel that way. With any piece-work kind of job, the urge to get the work done quickly and so earn more money, must be balanced against the artist's desire to do the job well, i.e., to make each piece unique. I do feel that compulsion while reading the majority of the autobiographies I'm paid to read. But I also feel the impulse to get the job done and so have at times turned my own office into a factory where I am strapped to a chair for ten hours, fingers on the keyboard and mouse, cutting and pasting comments with my heart and mind elsewhere. I rise from this dizzy and subdued, but I rise earlier than on the days when I know what I've written to every student...and this, of course, is the reason.

How often do we turn ourselves into slaves? The antidote for me, as far as this particular gig goes, is to pay attention to the lives I'm privileged to read. True, most people are not very articulate about their histories, but given the limited number of stories, there are plenty who tell the half dozen variations well enough to give a clear picture. For the rest, I rely on sheer volume. Our online schools are filled with people who don't know where the commas go, couldn't identify a conjunction and have more use but less reason for the conditional tense than is necessary.  A year ago I didn't know why this was so. Now I do.  They were absent the day those lessons were taught. In the essays I read, I discovered what they were doing.

stay tuned.