Thursday, August 26, 2004

Second Thoughts

... No, not about the Peace Corps. I'm having second thoughts about agreeing to teach this fall. I'm an adjunct English instructor at Tallahassee Community College, a job which pays me about $1600 dollars per class. Normal course load is two or three classes. Keep in mind that these semesters run approximately four months long, so that works out to about $800 a month, or $200 a week, for two classes. There aren't many places in America where two hundred a week will get you by. Thank goodness I live under cheap (read: "poverty") conditions, where my share of rent is only $250 a month. (Wow -- I never thought I'd utter the words "thank goodness I live in poverty!)

Last spring I had the fortune to teach two classes at a local private high school; I say fortune because the kids who go there are really good students and very disciplined, bright, and eager, so teaching them is a pleasure. It's a Christian school, and anyone who knows me might think that would cause some antagonism, but I'm actually fine there and I don't make waves. I was told at the outset that there are "certain things" not to discuss, such as anything too sexual in content or -- especially -- anything that might cast doubt or dispersion on Christianity. The sex stuff I understand, because these are still high school kids (I teach a college composition course so they are technically dual-enrolled and get both high school and college credit for the class) and they are all between about 16 and 18, so getting too explicit about racy stuff isn't something I'd do anyway. Now, about Christianity, I taught a composition class last spring that focused on Argumentation so I made it clear at the beginning that arguments that rely on religion or the Bible have built-in credibility issues -- mainly, that they place the burden of their arguments on evidence that itself can't be proven. They seemed to take that okay.

I'm rambling a bit, but my point was to illustrate what my job environment is like. Now, knowing I'll be leaving in November for the Pacific (*knock on wood*), it doesn't make much sense for me to dive into a four-month teaching gig. That is so much more true when you consider the money I make at it, which is barely enough to keep my head above water. My mom offered to let me stay with her until I go, rent-free, but she lives in West Texas, a place I despise with every fiber of my being. Why? Because it is so deep-country, cattle and stetsons, pickup trucks and Garth Brooks out there. I simply have nothing in common with the people who live out there; in fact, I have diametrically opposed viewpoints. I'm a socialist, they're capitalists. I'm progressive, they're conservative. I opposed the war, and they beat up people who don't like Bush.

But I wouldn't have to consort with the natives, per se. I would live in my family's ultra-isolated ranch house and have the place to myself 5 days a week (my mom works in San Angelo and commutes on the weekends). RENT-FREE. At first I dismissed the idea because I couldn't bear the thought of living in Texas any more than I had to, but lately the reality of it has hit me. I'm destined to head that way anyway, because that's the most economically feasible place to store my stuff while I'm in the PC, and since Melonie is leaving there is nothing for me here in Tallahassee. If I had the money, I'd go on "walkabout," perhaps going down to Miami and living on South Beach until I go, but I don't have that money so I'm fooked. Besides, I'm about a third the way through a new novel and find it very hard to write here, and that would give me ample time to write. There wouldn't be anything else to do -- cable t.v. doesn't extend out that far.

This leaves me with the problem of my teaching gig. I shouldn't have agreed to do it, because they're going to have to replace me anyway come November. Why not find someone now while the semester is new and the students haven't had time to get accustomed to me being their teacher? It's last-minute -- I should have seriously considered this a couple of weeks ago! -- but I talked to my boss today and she seemed okay with it. Maybe that's because they will have a couple months or so to find a replacement... there's no urgent rush.

But -- hey -- my medical/dental packet went out yesterday!!! So now, assuming I don't hit any unforseen snags, it's now all out of my hands. Now begins the waiting. More waiting, that is. I'm encouraged by a timeline I found on someone else's blog, and she had a quick turnaround with her medical, being cleared in like 2 - 3 weeks and getting an invitation soon after that. So maybe it can still happen, even this close to the bone.

Of course I'll keep you all posted. Thanks for reading!

-Bri

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