Did I maybe mention awhile back that I was going to be teaching a little bit in a low-residency MFA program? Then now it’s time to mention that I DO NOT CURRENTLY HAVE TIME TO BE TEACHING IN A LOW-RESIDENCY MFA PROGRAM. I’m in a dumb place where I feel vaguely guilty for not paying enough attention to it and vaguely resentful because they’re not really paying me enough either for my attention to the course or for the low-level guilt I’m enduring. So, of course, I become avoidant and that just makes everything worse. I just wrote a huge long email to each of my two advisees and now I feel a little better–but it took about 70 minutes that I could have spent sleeping, prepping, or grading things for my definitely not low-residency, non-virtual students, or even doing something fun, like knitting or reading, or useful, like washing the dishes or tidying up the place in preparation for weekend guests.
However. I did exercise–literally because I thought it would pump some much-needed endorphins to my brain and make me able to sit down and knock out those emails. I also had some lying-around time earlier, during which I reread Part One of Wide Sargasso Sea in preparation for teaching it, although I don’t expect to really crush it–as the kids would say–this time around, as I haven’t taught it in years, and never in high school, and am feeling kind of lukewarm about it right now. On the other hand, sometimes being a little detached is good for my teaching, and I end up getting good results out of books I’m not that excited about. I wish we’d read Jane Eyre together instead of their reading it over the summer. That might be something we’d switch up next year.
The idea about the low-res program was that I would enjoy continuing to work with grad students, make a little extra money, and keep a university on my resume for possible future changes in employment. And maybe, once Gamma is back and my teaching load is lighter and I’ve been chair for a while, that will all make sense again. The people I’m working with are good, though, and I can see that I have something to offer them. So maybe it was an okay decision. But DAMN. Do I have that problem where I don’t feel like I’m working hard enough if I’m not doing too much? Because let me tell you, leaving NLNRU was a very good decision, and I have had hardly a twinge of regret about that. I miss people, but I don’t miss the institution, and I don’t miss the commute or the aggravation. I was doing meaningful work there, but I am not suffering from a paucity of meaningfulness right now. Actually–as I said to the GGE today–I really am glad to have the opportunity to serve as chair, because I am seeing ways that, if I do my job well, I can make it possible for other people to do theirs better and be happier at the institution, too. So it’s not like I really need more work. And I’m not feeling worried about not being taken seriously as a writer if I am not teaching in a college or an MFA program. But oh well, it’s too late to dump this gig for the fall. I’m not sure when they’ll ask–if they ask–me to take on students in spring. I hope it’s late, after Gamma returns and I get two of my periods back, because I’ll be able to make a more realistic decision then.
Can you tell that it’s late, and I’m rambling, and I’m not quite wound down yet even though I need to get up in six hours? Damn. I really meant to get a full night’s sleep tonight, too. But I do feel better having the MFA-ers off my plate for now. We’ll just have to see whether there ends up being room on the plate for them in the long run.