This time last week, I was prepped to teach five classes at two different colleges, and ramping up for my upcoming GRE. I took the GRE once, to get into my MFA program. Fifteen years ago. Since GRE scores are good for a maximum of five years--though some schools have shorter windows, as if our intellect, like sour cream, gets rancid after sitting around unused for extended periods of time--I was due for another set.
Let's just point out that it's been twenty years since I've taken a math class, and the last time I took the GRE, I actually had to use a pencil. Needless to say, "ramping up" roughly translates into "experiencing recurring bouts of unmitigated panic".
First I got a mysterious message from College A, from the new department secretary, saying that the new Dean had given her my resume and wanted to know if I was interested in an adjunct position at College A. This mysterious message was quite troubling mostly because last time I checked, I have an adjunct position at College A. In fact, a syllabus from no fewer than three classes was likely in the new secretary's inbox as she dialed. One of them turned out to be utterly useless because COM101-M4 has a late start date, but that's another post altogether, and not worth getting into.
Two days later, one of the part-time assistants from College A also called, wanting to know when I was going to email a copy of my current syllabus to the department. After pointing out that the answer was, indeed, "two weeks ago" I asked to be transfered to the new full-time department secretary. The one who had tried to give me my own job, as if I should be grateful for it.
Eventually, we got things straightened out at College A, blaming most of the kerfluffle on the new Dean.
Then College B called.
College B is notoriously wonderful. It's a small, Catholic college; it engages in service learning on a regular basis in which even the College President participates alongside freshmen and volleyball coaches, bends over backwards to accommodate my particular insanities, and just generally has its shit together on a pretty consistent basis. In short, I often want to kiss College B on the mouth. Sadly, College B was calling to cancel ENG104, my favourite class of all time, for the second consecutive semester due to underenrollment. The department chair and I spoke at length about our desire to see this course fly, and plans are underway to revamp some other things in the department requirements (including a core course that is much less effective than planned) to resurrect this class. Presumably so I can teach it. It is, after all, the class they originally hired me to teach in the first place.
That was Tuesday night at supper. Thursday morning, I was sitting on the front porch drinking an enormous mug of tea when the phone rang again. Again, it was College B. I tensed, thinking they were going to take ENG101 away from me, even though there are 20 students enrolled and no full-time professor in his right mind wants to teach ENG101. That's why there are adjuncts in the first place. Well, that and the lack of office space on campus.
But no. The department chair was calling to see if I could teach ENG210, something I have not only never taught, but haven't particularly studied since I left my undergraduate institution lo these fifteen years ago (see paragraph 1). I allowed has how I really couldn't answer this right away, because I was leaving to take the GRE in thirty minutes, and I can't freak out about two things at the same time, so I was tabling this discussion until later that evening when I could freak out about it properly. In the meantime, could she send me the syllabus and other useful information (like when does this class even meet?) so I could make a more informed, or at least slightly less hare-brained, decision.
By the way, did I mention that ENG210 apparently has no syllabus, just a basic outline of how to teach the entire history of theatre (which is only about as long as the entire history of man walking upright) in fifteen weeks? And that the textbook that was ordered by the professor to take this class in between its original creator and me does not actually match the textbook followed by the syllabus? And that class starts in 72 hours? Yeah. Not kidding.
Still, being a sucker (we are, after all, a service-learning based institution) and intrigued by the glitter and glamour of getting to teach a 200-level class, and also possibly still riding high on the fact that I had totally rocked the GRE, computer algorithm or no, I caved. Said I would teach it. Even though it now doubles the number of days per week I have to drive to College B, and trebles the number of times I have to commute directly from teaching at College B to College A, which involves driving on an toll road that ends in the word "Turnpike" through a notorious Eastern city in midafternoon.
Now where did I leave those amphetamines?