I went and found the director of the freshman writing program this afternoon.
Dr. C is a wonderful though enigmatic man. He has a Ph.D. in Old English Literature and has been a fixture at Local U. for as long as I’ve been acquainted with the place (and that’s going on 20 years now). He LOOKS like an English professor – white hair, stern aspect, tweed jackets with the suede elbow patches (no lie). He’s occupied the same corner office for so long that his bookshelves are starting to bow under the weight of his library, and he’s had the same creaky chair for as long as I’ve known him.
I had Dr. C as a professor in several classes as an undergraduate. In one class – I think it was a teaching methods course – I remember his allowing an ongoing argument between myself and another student about the nature of Frost’s Acquainted with the Night. This moron my classsmate thought that the narrator of the poem was some kind of felon fleeing the scene of his crime, and I would have none of it. Dr. C looked on with a delighted grin on his face as the two of us verbally duked it out over several class meetings. I also had him as an instructor in least one grammar course; he may well be the founding father of Grammar Wednesdays! Even though he wasn’t my official advisor, I spent a fair bit of time in his office seeking advice as I made my way through graduate school. I think he’s wonderful.
It seems I have a special place in his heart, too, because when I came to see him about getting the adjunct gig this past summer, he remembered a poem I’d written for him as an assignment in an undergrad course (it may have even been the poetry-arguing methods class). I was entirely blown away that he, more than a decade later, recalled not only that I’d written a poem, but that he also remembered the general gist of the piece, too. Of course, it’s pissing me off that I can’t FIND the poem – I KNOW it’s in my files somewhere, but I haven’t been able to put my hands on the damned thing. Once I stop looking for it, it’ll show up.
Anyway, back to my story. I found Dr. C in the hallway by my office, reading an announcement on the wall (he was on his way in and was distracted by the poster). I followed him up to his office, where he told me that he was very busy and didn’t have any time to spare, but then proceeded to spend the next 45 minutes with me (this is typical of him). I was hoping to pick his brains about what I might do to make myself a more attractive candidate for another adjunct gig in the spring when the freshman writing course offerings go down to nearly nothing. I also wanted to know about what the process of getting hired as a full-time lecturer might be.
He spent a good portion of our time together trying very hard to convince me that lecturer positions are hard to come by (“I don’t know why – the job doesn’t pay well at all, but people don’t seem to leave”), and to disabuse me of the notion that I might be hired back in January. Certainly there’ll be a place for me in the fall – he was quite clear about that – but he was also explicit about the idea that almost none of the adjuncts are asked back in the spring because there just aren’t enough classes to go around.
I’m profoundly disappointed by this, but I’m trying to keep it all in perspective. I’ll still be associated with the university through my work with the recreation department, and I’ll make sure to stay in touch with the folks I’ve made friends with on the faculty and staff (I LOVE my neighbor – more about him later). I’ll make sure to stay in touch with Dr. C all through the spring – maybe there’s a chance of getting a summer course. I really, really want to stay at Local U. – we’re not willing to move and this really is my best option for employment around here. If I have to wait until the fall, so be it.