roasting marshmellows in phd hell

I am the Rhianna to Higher Ed’s Chris Brown.

with 5 comments

I don’t think that title is too dramatic.rihanna-headshot-big

(legal disclaimer: ok, maybe a tad..)

The whole thing does reek, though.  I am still in phd limbo and  have no idea what the next step is with my own writing.  Academia, I can’t wait until I quit you.

But the mindset is so pervasive.  This morning I was fantasizing about how fucking free I will feel when the whole thing is submitted and defended and I get a dumb title on my snail mail.  And my next thought was how I should just submit the dissertation to publishers, because it will basically be a book already.  It’d be a waste to not have it published, right?  And the I realized that it would probably need to be edited to hell and back, and the idea of that fills me with refried bean vomit.  And also, why bother? Why put myself in a position where I am wasting precious months of life agonizing over a document that nobody will ever read when I have no interest in joining the ranks of the Stuffy Tweed Brigade, as I do not want to become an endangered species/mythical creature?  It’s just the fucking mindset is so hard to break.  Just one more paper.  One more year on the job search circuit.  It’s like crack but without the good feelings.  Ahem.

Teaching is also kind of a sado-maschocistic job.  Like being one of those people who get paid to spank balding men who work in management.  Or  like dating notorious jackass and woman hater, Chris Brown.  It’s easy to get addicted to the adrenaline rush of it all.  The performance aspect, the russian roulette feeling that despite your meticulously planned lesson, anything could happen.  Sometimes it goes better than you could have hoped, and your students get into a heated debate about killing a mammoth spider in the classroom because you’re reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and they’re using bits of the text to justify their position, and wow.  It feels like you won the fucking lottery or saved 10000 souls for jesus that day.

But when it’s bad, its bad.

Here are some things that regularly occur in the classroom that I hate:

1. When, upon trying to be Socratic and shit, you send a pretty basic question out there into the ether and either a. 50 blank faces stare back at you like you are a fucking asshole, or b. someone tries to answer your question with the most random shit ever, like an anecdote about their dad’s girlfriend or the word ‘twentington.

2. When you spend 5 minutes explaining what “deus ex machina” is, only to be asked immediately after, “What’s ‘deus ex machina’?”

now 3. is a new one and a favorite… I have a student who sleeps with hir eyes open for most of the session.  But ze must have a well-concealed wifi connected device, because they randomly volunteer equal parts  highfalutin and random shit.  So the other day, ze raised hir hand and goes, “The metaphysical aspect of praxis is demonstrated in lines 98-104 of the text.” So I asked for some clarification or a specific example, and just got, ‘uhhhhh.. i can’t find it now.’ BAM muthafucker!!!! I got you! Which means absolutely nothing, you probably still think you are 8 million times smarter than me and who knows, maybe you are right.

That last one is probably what bothers me the most.  That I get so wrapped up in trying to ‘defeat’ plagiarists or students who are trying to get one over on me and it really doesn’t matter.  I won’t get paid more if I ‘catch’ them.  It doesn’t mean I ‘win’.  I can’t change a person like that and all it accomplishes is making me less dude-like.

So I am making a promise to myself that this is my last semester teaching.  I am still kicking around my business idea and am going to be more serious about making it happen.  There’s got to be a more satisfying and less destructive way to make a buck.


Written by universityoflies

February 8, 2013 at 21:25

5 Responses

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  1. Teaching has morphed into a truly crappy job. I taught high school for a few years and now college at a CC for about five. Even from 5 years ago, it’s changed. Plus, take a look at the MOOCs. Anyone who believes they won’t take over higher ed and reduce the need for faculty is just lying to themselves. The technology is changing at a rapid pace and only picking up speed.

    I bought a tablet last night. 7 inch. Think about what was available just 5 years ago. What was it? Oh yeah, the iPhone was fucking BRAND NEW and the first of it’s kind brought to popular market. This tech will take over education (which is fine by me) and make this old system antiquated. It’s coming. Now is a good time to get out. I’m trying to get out myself right now. Good luck.


    February 9, 2013 at 15:14

  2. […] analogy between aspiring academics and the cycle of abuse isn’t an altogether apt one, but “the exploited becoming the exploiter” just […]

  3. Thank you for existing.
    I’m days off finishing my MA and, having already made the decision to exit the university, have been reading around the post-academic blogspace to [avoid my thesis] make myself feel better about not wanting to continue to phd. Yours is the most entertaining blog I’ve come across, so good in fact that I plan to keep reading, even once the yoke is lifted. You’ve also made me feel better about not wanting to teach. Gold. Cheers heaps. Were I capable of making sense right now I’d say something hilarious and perhaps whip out some trenchant reference to something awesome.
    Alack, I’ve got nothing. But you. You had me at “twentington.”


    February 17, 2013 at 09:12

    • Thanks for the kind words, lodda, and congrats on being so close to the finish line! Also, how great that you are about to be free, and life will be fucking delicious. Don’t look back. And I wish you the best of luck in finding something that you love to do.


      February 17, 2013 at 16:43

  4. Quitting for me was like quitting smoking–I really couldn’t understand what was so fucking hard about it. Killing myself slowly and surely. And it made me unbearable to be with. And I couldn’t do anything that interfered with my ability to do it, even though I wanted to do anything but.
    Chew gum. Buy a lot of tasty beverages. Make plans to be where you can’t do it. And if you cry all the way to the store to buy another pack, it’s okay. 🙂 You can do it!

    Matilda Aya

    February 26, 2013 at 22:20

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