Saturday, January 27, 2007

Twin Lives

This shouldn't be a problem. Seriously, I think I'm a little off, because I can find the difficult (and the drama) in everything. I guess that's why I write poetry and why I'm glad my husband puts up with me, at times.

I actually have two jobs at my school. I teach two classes per term in English and/or 20th century literature. I love love love this part of my job. While the students aren't always in love with what I do, I can normally turn them around. I've been teaching at this school since I finished my thesis in graduate school, about two years. The other half of my job (up until a week ago) was Lead Instructor, basically the manager of the department. The department consists of all of the instructors involved in the non-culinary aspects of the school. Since we hire only adjuncts, we vary between 6-12 instructors, depending on the term. This part of the job can be stressful because the school has problems, which I am trying to fix, as best as I can. I've had this half of my job for almost a year.

This job makes me feel, at times, like I am divided by two. I wear two hats, have two duties, and they take up a lot of my time. Over the couple of years, while I have tried to leave this job for a real professor job, it's become clear to me that those jobs don't exist anymore. Not for profit and for profit schools alike both hire only adjunct instructors and I don't think I can live term to term like that, what with my exorbitant school loans and my not-so-exorbitant mortgage. When I was an adjunct, I had to work retail, and I just don't see myself doing that anymore.

Now here's the cool/scary part. My bosses (president of the school, et al) gave me a huge promotion last week. (They like me, they really like me.) They are now calling me Department Chair, which means that I will teach less (1 class a term instead of 2) and administrate more. I'll be more involved in the education initiatives of the school and the nature of the education we provide. So, I'll be in a better position to fix the problems we have. That's cool and I'm really happy that happened.

So now, I have these two careers. My education career as a future administrator and my writing career as a poet/teacher. One is really doing well and one is not. Unfortunately, I really like being an administrator but I am passionate about being a poet/teacher. With the education and training that I have, this is as I high as I can go. If I had to leave this school and go somewhere else, I would need to work myself up from the bottom again, because most schools require a master's degree in education (not poetry) for administrative jobs.

Here's my conflict. I should/could start up school again. There are several schools around me which offer Ed.d programs (doctorates in education) that would allow me to progress higher as an administrator, later in life. The programs take 5-7 years to complete, taking one class a term. My school will pay for my education, because they are dedicated to personal growth, so I can do this for free.

But by doing this, am I saying goodbye to being a poet? Am I admitting to myself that writing is fun and my passion, but ultimately not rewarding? I always knew that by dedicating myself to poetry, I am dedicating myself to a life of rejection letters, low salaries, and anonymity. While I have always known that I am never going to be a Mary Oliver or Adrienne Rich, I did fancy for myself a small teaching/writing career. With undertaking a new degree, I would be slicing into my very precious, very scarce writing time and turning it into homework time. I know it would be beneficial for my career and I know it would make me happy, but it's not poetry.

I know this seems silly, but I am stressing so much about this because most of the Ed.d programs in my city start every two years, in odd numbered years. In other words, I need to apply now-ish in order to start school in 9 months. Or I need to wait two years, which wouldn't be the end of the world.

I know most poets don't work in the academic world. Dana Gioia was the VP of General Foods before he was the chair of the NEA. Wallace Stevens spent his whole life being the Vice President of an insurance company. So there are 9 to 5 models out there. But can I truly be one of them, when life starts creeping in?


Oberon said...

......hello there neighbor....i agree.....why can't it always be as your photo shows?......i'm a twin city guy too.

Jessica said...

thanks for stoppin' by, oberon. i was hoping someone out there would agree with me... and I'm glad it happened so fast. :) ask and ye shall receive, i guess.