Saturday, December 02, 2006

New York Rears It’s Ugly Head

I’ve had a pretty hard two days. I got a bill from a missed appointment that is grossly overcharged. I am having trouble going on temporary disability (more later). I have car on the street which I’m getting tickets for because it won’t move. I got rejected from 3 adjunct jobs. I also have a friend who was turned down for a more permanent just at her school – her peers rejected her work. Meanwhile, another friend told me something I didn’t know gallery dealers only show twenty-somethings.

Needless to say, I’m cranky.

I love New York so passionately. But, sometimes I wonder if this passion is misplaced. New York City sometimes rears it’s ugly head, and even people who aren’t in the loop feel the pressure.

Adjunct jobs in New York pay (typically) $3600 a class for semester. There is no job security. There are no medical benefits. I haven’t done it yet, but I imagine (depending on the school) you have 20 students. This is English comp and many of the students have just come out of the wacky NYC public school system (code: they don’t know how to write or behave). One friend called “babysitting.” Another friend said it’s basically the same work load as high school. So, if it’s such a crap job why are they so hard to come by & why on earth would someone want one?

My father was a professor at the University of New Mexico for 20 years. He was the youngest chair (I think he was 40) and he stayed chair for five years. I asked him what it took for him to hire an English comp teacher – he said “a pulse.” You may read this (particularly from NY) as well of course, what kind of school is UNM? Actually, if you’re a photographer or print maker – you know it’s one of the top schools for these things. If you’re a poet, John Nichols, Joy Harjo, and Bob Creeley have all taught in that English Department.

Which leads me back to New York’s particular horribleness. I think in New York you have to constantly prove you are “someone.” There are so many people competing that what is “the best” becomes obscured. I think the quickness of New York has created an environment where people are much more aware of surface qualities. i.ehe. are you 1. young 2. good looking 3. a Harvard/NYU graduate? I saw it when I was first a teaching fellow. I went to a job fair and all the kids who looked like the just stepped out of a Gap ad immediately had jobs – never mind the fact that I had more education and life experience. This better than tho attitude even makes us turn on each other. Strangely, I see it at my pre-k son’s school. For example, there is a woman who is very beautiful, tall, and some form of European. Not only will she not talk to most the parents, she won’t even look at them! OR they’re’s the snot students in the snot bullshit art review who give my friend harsh criticism. OR The public school in the Bronx that had students interview me and tell me I wasn’t good enough for the job. Where does this sense of entitlement come from? Do they have it in Iowa?

I would love some comments on your take.

4 comments:

Morse said...

Sigh....it's a delimma. I have a real love/hate relationship with this place. Only when I leave for a time do I remember why I chose to live here. The worst part is the constant waiting, standing in line, traffic, just trying to get your voice heard. And the public school system....Oy!

amy said...

I got lucky. Being at a community college eliminates the competitive aspect. We're they're to teach, period. And our chair supports us one thousand percent. He wants us to have job security, doesn't abuse us or treat us like second rate warm bodies to stand in a room practicing discipline and punish. That said, I barely tolerate teaching the intro to writing class because the students can't handle their first taste of freedom. The attrition rate is high. But after that, my other courses are mostly pleasant with the regular average joes and janes who are tepid about learning and then there's usually a core group of four or five that are enthusiastic -- I focus on them and consider my contribution to the future significant.

But I know of the ugliness you speak. I mix with other academics by default and see the feelers going out among little soirees and the questions ask are meant to size one up. My community college status automatically puts me in the second class citizen boat. I don't care. But you're right: I would very much care if I was trying to get a job and survive. I feel for you. It's very much a ranking game, even for adjuncts. I want to recommend worthy places to apply for decent adjunct positions, but none really come to mind this morning. Where have you applied?

Editors said...

Hey Amy K!

I applied to many CUNY schools. They had positions listed in the Times AND in their website. But, when I emailed re: my resume, they said they had no jobs. Ordinarily, I would attribute job rejection to my disability - but the Universities CLAIM they want a diverse teaching population. I suspect that there are so many phD.'s out there the competition's brutal. I called Nassau CC and they said they wouldn't even consider a non-PhD. I guess mucho publications, five years teaching. a book from a University Press and another on the way, and TWO master's just isn't enough!

amy said...

That's just bizarre. I have no answer for that NCC call, except that they already hired for the year awhile ago. But they do hire yearly --

When I applied, I just sent my cv and a cover letter, period. I don't have my Ph.D. Why don't you just send it when the next hiring ad gets posted?