Saturday, March 14, 2009

investment, I say!

On Rate Your Students today, Beatrice from Boca describes a version of the academic life that I fear is much too common.

Is it worth going to MLA for just one interview? I decided in the end it must be, and in a way it was: I booked my last-minute travel plans, bought interview clothes, went, did great, got called for a flyback, and, after dancing the dance of Snoopy happiness, checked my finances. I’m used to being broke, but I’d never been maxed out before. Maxed out. All my credit cards (4 of them) maxed out at about what I earn in a year. Actually a little more than what I earn in a year.

Suddenly I realize I’ve bet the house: if I get the job, I’ll be fine. But if I don’t get the job, I’m bankrupt. I can’t afford to pay my bills. And if I’m back on the job market next year, I have no more credit for plane tickets and hotels – I’ll have to start saving for that now. Suddenly all this “investing” I’ve been doing looks like nothing more than an increasingly deep hole I’ve been digging for myself. Again, I’m doing great work: I’m publishing admirably and teaching great classes, well – I even got invited to sit on a MFA student’s thesis committee, which is unprecedented for a mere instructor! But none of that seems to matter right now, as I find my eyes lingering on the roadside billboards of local bankruptcy attorneys.

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