Saturday, December 17, 2011

College Life?

I got asked at my last post-observation conference when I was making the move to college teaching. This got me thinking. Mom always said that she saw me eventually on an ivy covered campus teaching. I don't know about the ivy, but the idea of making the move to teaching college definitely appeals to me.
Here's my positive affirmation list:
  1. More and more colleges (not just community colleges) aren't requiring PhDs, but instead are accepting just Masters with online experience, or teaching experience.
  2. I have two Masters degrees, one in education and one in English literature, which HAS to count for something.
  3. I have ten years of teaching experience, plus one of online teaching.
  4. I've presented for two years at SAMLA and chaired a panel this past year.
  5. My first book review will be published next month in The Journal of Folklore Research: Reviews.
  6. I couldn't be any more involved at my school with committees and service.
  7. I'm a rockstar in an interview.
And because I'm a realist, here are the negatives...
  1. I don't have a PhD.
  2. I'm not published.
  3. I don't have post-secondary teaching experience.
  4. I don't have the support of a network.
What I do have is a growing list of questions:
  1. Is post-secondary teaching experience really necessary if I have other qualifications? Is there any wriggle room in these requirements? Or, would my other qualifications be accepted in lieu of this?
  2. Does my lack of publication hurt me?
  3. For someone in my position, do I care if the position is a lecturer, or a renewable contract assistant professorship without tenure?
  4. Where would I want to go? For what situation am I willing to uproot my life? In this economy?
  5. How the hell does this process work? I know we're smack in the middle of the hiring season (I hear) but how quickly do you hear if you made the first round of cuts? Does it make a difference if it's an online application that goes to HR or if it's directly addressed to the search committee chair? Is an interview the next step, or a campus visit? How quickly after that do you hear something?
I only have one friend in a PhD program, and she's not at the job hunting stage yet. I don't really have anyone else I could ask. I have a couple of college professors I probably could ask, but I don't want to be a bother, especially when I'll probably be bugging them later for recommendations. While I enjoyed my masters programs, neither provided much support with this type of thing. My pick up class at ECU was where I learned all of this professional interaction stuff, and I still feel lost.
This is WAY out of my comfort zone. And for now, just all musings on paper.

Mom's Traditions

Somehow, despite all of my preparations, Christmas has snuck up on me again. Don't get me wrong- the tree(s) are decorated, the outside lights are up (although a couple of lines have blown), the presents are all purchased and wrapped and under the tree. Yet somehow, I still feel as though Christmas is waiting to ambush me in a week.

Part of this is the pressure- there are lots of things that Mom did that I feel the need to make sure get done. Some of these things I had started to help her with as she got sicker and sicker. But I also worry about all the things she did that I may not remember, or may get wrong. I know it's ridiculous to try and fill her shoes, that I need to discover what Christmas means to me, what my traditions are. But I am my mother's child, and my traditions are mostly hers.

I haven't been overwhelmingly sad this season, I think because Mom saw so much magic in the season, so that is what I remember most. I seem to carry the magic of her with the season.

These are Mom's traditions I carried on this season:
  1. Used a dorky Christmas picture for the Christmas card. Although we did just put Nehi on it. We usually took pictures of all of us, and this year without Mom, it just didn't feel right.
  2. Addressed my cards while watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade, put them in the mail the next day.
  3. Went Christmas tree shopping the day after Thanksgiving and put it up and decorated it.
  4. Put the Charlie Brown Christmas lights up outside (although this year we went with LEDs to save the power bill!)
  5. Bought matching Christmas pajamas for me and my sister. While this may be a dorky thing to do, and my fashion conscious sister may cringe at my choices, we've always done it!
  6. Bought the ingredients for bourbon balls.
  7. Have already watched National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Scrooged and White Christmas.
  8. Every year when I was little, we had an embroidered tablecloth with fairy tale and stories on it. There were figurines that went on the table as a centerpiece. Nehi and the kitties like to eat things, so we didn't put the tablecloth out or put the figurines on the table, but I did put them out in the glass display case.
  9. When I was little, we had an embroidered set of three angels that we hung up. While I was decorating the tree I found the three angels, although they were no longer secured on their hanger. I restrung them, and they now proudly hang in the living room.
I hope I got it right, Mom!

Friday, November 11, 2011


I find myself haunted by my Mom. Not in any awful, ghosts in the attic way. But definitely haunted. Can't sleep at night, can't stop thinking of all the things I didn't do, can't help but think "I'm sorry, Mom" over and over in my head. My friend, D keeps telling me that you can makes yourself crazy with "what ifs". And I know that's true. But at night, as I lay in bed, my mind seems to run on a gerbil wheel all of its own making.
I wish that I had hugged Mom more.
I wish I'd invited her downstairs to watch movies and tv shows.
I wish I'd treasured every moment I had instead of assuming we'd have more.
I wish I'd done more to make her happy, done what she asked more.
I wish I'd been more patient, more kind.
I wish I'd listened to her more- about how she felt, what she wanted, what she needed.
I wish I'd tried to wake her up that day when I got home from work.

I'm not sure what I believe about what happens after we die. The Catholic Church has very specific ideas. The scholar in my doesn't quite believe. Dad has begun to obsessively watch paranormal shows, read into that what you will. One thing we agree on is that wherever Mom is, she's not here.
And that's the crux of the problem- she's not here. She's not here for me to apologize to. To hug. To tell her I love her.
And so I don't have any way to make amends. I don't have any way to say I'm sorry that I didn't do enough. Even though she was sick for so long, we all just assumed that she'd be sick, but she'd be around. I took the time I thought we'd have for granted, and now I find I'm paying for it. I find that I am haunted by all of the things I should have done, or said. I can't think of her without crying. I have a hard time remembering what things were like before she got sick. I try so hard to hold onto the images I have of her from growing up, and not that last image I have of her on the floor, surrounded by EMS.

There is not a day that goes by that I wouldn't trade it to have her back.
I thought of her a lot last week with SAMLA. Last year I spent all of my breaks between sessions calling her and telling her about the cool things I'd just heard. She talked me through my own presentation. This year I spent my breaks standing on the same smoking patio, with my phone in my hand and realizing that there was no one to call. I was so nervous during my panel, I thought I was going to throw up.

I know it's supposedly normal for it to take a while to learn how to adjust to this new reality. Friends say it gets better. But does the guilt of all the things you should have done go away? Will there ever be a time when I don't feel as though I failed my Mom?

The holidays are quickly approaching, and I just don't know what I'm going to do. For Mom, Christmas was her time of year. The season started as soon as you saw Santa in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade. I plan on writing Christmas cards during the parade, just like Mom told me, although she wasn't able to do so these past couple of years. I plan on going to pick out the tree and put it up the day after Thanksgiving, as we always did. Going through the decorations, setting out her favorites will be hard. Trying to juggle the roles she played- stuffing stockings, setting out gifts, who gets what, will be hard.
The last couple of years, Mom kept saying that this might be her last Christmas. Last year was, and we had no idea. This year without her, I'm not sure how it goes. Do my feelings get worse as the holidays grow closer? Do I feel closer to her as we get nearer to her favorite holiday? Will anything make any of this better?
I wish she was here to ask. Moms prepare you for lots of things- how to deal with disappointment, the boy who doesn't like you back, how to buy things for your first apartment, how to make a home. They don't prepare you for how to go on without them.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Location, Location, Location...

Mom used to ask me where I thought I wanted to end up. The only answer I ever gave her was "Nowhere I've already been." I still find that to be mostly true. So that rules out:
  • New York City
  • Atlanta
  • Omaha
  • Savannah
  • Wilmington
  • St. Louis
  • Upstate NY
  • Connecticut
  • Washington D.C
  • San Francisco
  • Half Moon Bay, CA
A friend and I were talking about this the other night, as he lives in LA because he has to (he's an actor). We got to talking about what we would look for in the perfect place to live. I told him that I wasn't sure where I wanted to end up, but I had a list of things I did and did not like. So, here's my list:
  • I'm tired of 105+ degree heat index. I like the sun, but am over this heat and humidity crap for three months.
  • Someplace that has a median temperature in the 60s would be nice, with some sunny, warm days.
  • I'm not a big fan of winter, so unless it briefly snows and then goes away, not into that.
  • I would like somewhere in between a small town and small city. Not really keen on a place where everyone knows your business.
  • Liberal politics. Pretty much a place where you can state an opinion based on intellect and not be crucified for it.
  • I like the ocean, I love living by the water. But I realized this summer, that doesn't mean I'm going to want to go to a crowded beach full of people, or go into the water. So maybe West Coast and their 60 degree water would work.
  • Decent cost of living.
  • Decent access to an airport. It's a bit of a pain in the ass to drive two hours to an airport, and have to get there two hours early for an hour flight. 
  • Would like to have a house with a little bit more land, little less crowded in with other people. But I don't want to live in the boonies and worry about Nehi, bears and other critters.
There are a lot of other factors of course. With it being only six months since Mom died, I still feel as though my head is a jumble.
I've been made department chair at work, I like teaching online, there are opportunities at the community college. It could be that I'm happier with this new situation.
There just seem to be so many big questions- many of which I've pondered here before: what do I want to do? What would make me happy? Where would I want to go? Would I be happy here teaching for a community college? Would I want to move halfway across the country all on my own with no safety net? What if I'm miserable? Do I have to take into consideration everyone else, or is it okay to be selfish about this? Make a decision purely for myself? Either way, too big a thing to back away from.
Another friend of mine said that there's a reason Jews don't make any big decisions for a year after a death. And that makes sense to me. But there are things boiling here at home that are bringing into sharp focus the fact that I may have to make some big decisions and soon. So, if my hand is forced, I guess the question is, what do I do?
L.M Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables series, also wrote another series, Emily and there's a bit that sticks into my mind. Emily has to make a big decision, and she goes around asking everyone their opinion. In the end , what she really wants is someone to tell her what to do, but only if that advice is what she's already decided. I can relate. Except for the fact that I haven't decided.
Still wish someone would help me out though.
Still feel as though I am floundering.