Anyone Know a Good Labor Attorney?

So rather than go out on a high-note here at my soon to be former SLAC, it's going to be a struggle. I'm still working to get paid what others were for a canceled class from last summer (the university incorrectly canceled classes, and when the mistake was pointed out, paid $1,000 to all the faculty this happened to except me because mine was a graduate course).

This summer, when I pointed out that I was in the same situation that caused the courses to be erroneously canceled in violation of the union contract last summer and that I expected the university to adhere to the contract this time, I've been informed that even though I'm teaching two summer courses (they've met for two days now), the union contract doesn't apply to me because I gave my letter of resignation. Of course, things being what they are, I was never offered a different contact to work under.

Only In Your Dreams

Here's a little goodness I stumbled across while nursing my apartment searching sun burn in the soon to be New Town. Proof that if there is a God, they're a fan of the ridiculous.

Don't say I never gave you anything.

Creative Ways to Experience Anxiety

I received another thank you letter from a student today. They've been very sweet about my departure. One of the students this morning told me they want tow write a letter demanding millions so the school could keep me. I told them it wasn't entirely about money.

And in the midst of it, I began to fret about what all these student letters might mean. There are some commonalities to them, after all. First, they tend to come from working class students (though this isn't particularly unusual here as most of the students are). They tend to be from students who struggled as part of their time here. And they tend to be from students who have been casting about for what they want to do.

The connections aren't particularly surprising. I was a working class kid, though I didn't quite realize it until the middle of my undergraduate. I struggled quite a bit myself. Between the freedom that college offered, the first true romances, and the working load that comes with putting yourself through as a working class kid who doesn't know any better, it was a struggle to get out of and a shock when I actually went back to school. I started out pre-med, jumped to a much more liberal arts focused degree, and took enough outside classes to have had five minors had the university allowed it.

And then I thought about what I know about the student population at the New Job, and those things aren't particularly present. Most of them don't seem to be working class. I'm told they all have very well-defined goals of where they want to be. What if my teaching doesn't match up?

Really, there's no way to know until I'm there and into the swing of it. And it's fair to say that it wasn't until maybe a year into my time here that I started to click with students, so it could take awhile anyway. But I think the impending departure has had weird reverberations on my thought processes. I was telling a colleague today that I think I might be grading senior seminar papers with a little nostalgia grade boost. And the other day, I tried to explain why a big goodbye party creeps me out.

End of Term Follies

Yesterday, a minute before I was to leave my office, a student stopped in to ask if I could be the third member of her honors' thesis committee, who would be "meeting tomorrow for the defense."

It's a busy end of the term here, not just because of it being my last term, but also because of the workload. I've already served on two honors committees. I'm supervising 17 senior research projects. I've got portfolios from 21 students, and essay exams from 12 others. Also, I have an article to restructure. I've no business on last minute committees.

Naturally, I said yes.

The topic seemed interesting, and I've known the student through some of the causes happening on campus this year. It felt wrong to say no.

And now I've read the thesis, and I realize that there's a reason there was no third committee member. And worse, I don't think they could have been thinking about what my own research and interests are or they wouldn't have asked me to be on this because there's almost no way I can avoid shredding this.

What's frustrating, though, is that I tried to speak with the chair about this, and there seemed to be little recognition of the problems and even less interest in hearing out my difficulties so they might either prepare the student or their own defense of this. Because at the end of the day, a failed thesis defense - and that's what I think this might wind up being - is a failure of the committee.

And While I'm Posting Ridiculous Things... scholars - are any of you media scholars? - tell me what you think about this?

Clearly, I should not be grading finals and watching late night television. Honestly, AMC, who the hell is your after midnight audience?

I'd Feel Better About This if Rabbit Said It...

...I never quite trusted Rabbit.

Their graduation, mine.

It has been far too long since I've written, longer still since - maybe - since I wanted to write.

The days have been filled with writing, of course. There's a conference to be planned, and I am reminded that I am, however reluctantly, a Type A- personality: not quite type A, but a little too something to settle into Type B. I envy Type B's; I dread Type A's. But the conference begs for it. This is the problem with folks of a particular ideology (I wont say which: you can fill in your own blanks): they mistake organization for fascism. And, so, I find myself answering the e-mails for the conference: dull, banal little things in great numbers like gnats. To put any thought down became a chore, swatting at these things just a little more when I should be resting.

Tonight, I feel like writing.


Sometime back, I started writing a letter to our Seniors before they graduated. It was born out of a sort of necessity: herding cats in the graduation rodeo to a place where we could send them off into the sunset, though I have yet to attend a graduation that wasn't cold and rainy (at least for part of it). It became a tradition for me, a touchstone. And so, this year, it took on extra importance.

I'm leaving.

My advisees - many of them, anyway - are leaving with me. Well, not with me, but at the same time, to similar questions. In a strange way that no one ever told me, I walked the same path as those scared little Freshmen four years ago. Their steps were mine, and now, a tiny piece of their parting. The letter this year was much the same - congratulations and a little bit of a wish for them.

And a little bit of thanks.


The last two days have been awash in bureaucratic frustration. I find it's process that makes me lose my temper. And these last two days, I've found that a lot: everywhere I looked, there were problems: invitations sent to people who shouldn't have been; people who should have been who weren't. Names left out of programs. Programs out of order. I've found myself very protective of these students here at the end.

In recent weeks, we took a busload of them to a research conference. They rocked it. We took several to the school's research presentation. Most of them blew it away. Even my most problematic students - the ones who gravitate to me - have done well. Pick the student who you thought was the picture of unrepentant, unearned privilege. Remember how they walked into your office two years ago like royalty and made demands. Even that student got it, enough to make a couple of heads turn and faces pause at their moment of lucidity.

I am trying to focus on these things, amidst the chaos.


This evening I received a letter from a student that made me think of poetry. It was a letter that made me want to sit down and write. I want to share it, but that wouldn't be right. It was a private thing, but it reminded me of all the things we so rarely know as teachers, and that just because we don't know doesn't mean it isn't there or isn't happening.

It reminded me of the postcards friends used to send me, with haiku of their days on scrawled in thin, small writing. It was true, and tangentially I was a part of it.

Naomi Shihab Nye wrote "No one sees/the fuel that feeds you." Tonight, this term, these four years, I have been fed.