I have reached saturation and the semester hasn’t even started yet.
One of the things you learn very early on as an adjunct is that the answer to any job-related question is always yes. Do you want to? Yes, of course! Because the adjunct world is very much a “what have you done for me lately” kind of environment and when it comes to the next job offer all anyone ever remembers is the last answer you gave them. It’s not a guarantee that you’ll be offered the next one because you’ve said yes to the last one, but it is pretty much a guarantee that if you said no to the last one you won’t be hearing about the next one at all.
This is, for example, how I ended up teaching “World History Prior to 1500” – otherwise known as “Big Bang to Columbus” and a course for which my PhD in American history did precious little to prepare me. I have a doctorate in the Founding Fathers! Of course I can teach Harappan India! Bring it on!
I’m a quick study, though, and as a professional historian I know how to put the information together better than my students, and I’ve taught long enough to know how to present the material effectively. It ended up going well, despite feeling like the “two guys and the bear” joke the whole time (“I don’t have to outrun the bear – I just have to outrun you”). I’ve taught that class a couple of times now. I’ve even figured out how to reorganize the entire thing so it actually tells a coherent story, and perhaps if I am offered it again I’ll do that.
And I might, because the last time they asked I said yes.
This is also how I ended up with very nearly the equivalent of a job and a half this semester, plus a special project that is due more or less at the end of the month. I can do that! I can do that too! I can even do that! How’m I gonna do that?
How I’m going to do that is, of course, painfully obvious. It’s how you do anything. You start at one end and grind your way through it until it’s done.
It’s just work.
But it’s a lot of work, and I confess that what I’d really like right now is about three days of sleeping in, reading books I don’t have to take notes on, drinking tea in the daylight and whiskey after sundown, and generally making no demands on myself for anything.
And good luck with that! The world is not set up that way.
I’m fortunate, really. I like all of my various jobs and they pay me enough money that I can live reasonably comfortably and still send my child to college. I have good colleagues, bosses who treat me well and ask only that I get the work done on time and well, and a steady supply of students, most of whom are lovely people. It’s a good set of gigs.
But it’s a set and a half right now, and perhaps tonight I will simply ignore them and break out my book and my beverages and watch the snow fall quietly down.
You need that now and then, if only for an evening.