Friday, April 11, 2014

April 11: Spring Pig, a Little Despair, Tenured Fairy Tale

"He claims he's a spring pig," reported Charlotte, "and perhaps he is.  One thing is certain, he has a most unattractive personality.  He is too familiar, too noisy, and he cracks weak jokes.  Also, he's not anywhere near as clean as you are, nor as pleasant.  I, too, took quite a dislike to him in our brief interview.  He's going to be a hard pig to beat, though, Wilbur, on account of his size and weight.  But with me helping you, it can be done."

Charlotte is fairly confident through the whole book that she will be able to save Wilbur's life.  She never doubts herself.  She simply doesn't accept the fact that her friend will end up as Christmas ham.  Flying in the face of all evidence, this little spider knows, deep down in her heart, that Wilbur will live into old age.  She has faith.

I went to a committee meeting at the university this morning.  It had to do with the upcoming contract negotiations with the administration and the fact that adjunct/contingent faculty are the Cinderellas of the school.  We're alright to do the dirty work.  Sweep out the fireplace.  Muck out the cow shit from the stables.  Make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our tenured stepmothers and sisters.  When it comes to being invited to the palace for a ball, however, we might as well stay in the attic and correct our stacks of freshmen compositions.  No fairy godmothers for us.

I hope you're catching the bitterness in the previous paragraph.  I guess I don't have the same strong faith that Charlotte has.  After teaching at the same college for close to 18 years, I find myself feeling a little despair that my situation hasn't really changed all that much from the beginning.  Yes, I'm teaching different classes.  Yes, I'm part of the union now and received a small salary bump with the last contract.  But, when I walk down the hall of the English Department, I still get the impression that I'm begging for table scraps from all of my colleagues with PhDs (most of whom have been teaching there less than half as long as I have).  I'm tired of being the red-headed bastard child.

Once upon a time, a red-headed bastard child named Rick lived on a beautiful estate with his stepmother and sisters.  Rick's father had died of a massive coronary when Rick was a toddler, so Rick grew up being the house butler, handyman, and cook.

One day, Rick was shoveling snow off the front steps of the house.  He leaned on his shovel and said, "I wish I could marry the princess and live in the palace."

In a puff of pink smoke, a short, rotund woman with a wand and wings appeared.

"Who are you?" Rick said, startled.

"I'm your fairy godmother, Melba," the woman said, waving her arms.  "I heard your wish, and I've come to help you."

"Really?" Rick said.  "You're going to help me marry the princess and live in the palace?":

Melba frowned.  "Did you say marry the princess and live in the palace?"

Rick nodded.

"Do you have a terminal degree?" Melba asked.

Rick shook his head.

"Do you have any publications?"

Rick shook his head again.

"Research grants?  Awards?  Conference presentations?"

Rick kept shaking his head.

Melba slipped her wand back into the sleeve of her dress.  "I'm sorry, honey," Melba said.  "All I can do is offer you a contingent wish, and you'll have to renew your contract every six months."

Rick sighed.  "Will I ever get a tenure-track wish?"

Melba laughed.  "You're a red-headed bastard child.  I can't perform miracles."

Moral of the story: Publish or you're fucked.

And Saint Marty lived happily ever after.

Bastards have to stick together

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