Sunday, August 31, 2014

August, be gone already! / Agosto já vai tarde!

Seriously, I'm so over August. The end of this month was traumatizing, to put it mildly... sigh.

Last week after I gave one of my office-mates the good news she told me that now I could go celebrate with my husband.

Celebrate? I don't think I have any reason to celebrate. I am very relieved that it worked out, but I'm just even more bitter about my whole work situation. It's getting too tiresome to advocate for myself and to try to avoid being even more unfairly exploited.

I feel stronger, but at the same time even more cynical, skeptical and bitter. You know... I truly love getting older and I don't feel like going back to my younger, more naive and inexperienced years -- no way! I value all my past experiences, good and bad. One thing I kind of feel sorry about, though. I've always been kind of "childish" in a way, very enthusiastic, motivated, energized and these troubles only make me less so. They seem to seep into the fabric of who I am and deposit a thin layer of bitterness over everything. That, I don't like.

It's part of life though. And I can choose to remain positive and enthusiastic. I don't want to be one of those bitter old ladies, oh, no! And I think I won't be, so I need to get over it. That's why I'm glad this month is over. As we say in Portuguese, "it's leaving late already."

Good riddance! ;-)

Friday, August 29, 2014

In Print

Just got the scanned offer letter in an email.


Now to sign it, take a picture and email it back, and, more calmly now, carry on.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Maybe it's weird, but I feel "whole" again now. It seemed, after all my indignation about the unfairness of how I was being treated and the distress I went through, that something was irreparably broken.

Walking around the sun-drenched building on my way to my office after I'd taught my classes on the first day (Tuesday) around 2 pm, I felt very raw and out of place. Not only because I was utterly exhausted, having slept only from 5-7:20 am and not having eaten a thing since about 10:30 pm the night before and feeling still slightly high on adrenaline, but because I felt just plain broken. Like a piece of cracked china that will eventually be discarded. I had fought and lost. I felt that I didn't really belong in that building. The only lecturer who was not full-time. The odd one.

And I opened my email to find a strange email from the chair that I didn't much like. I responded with two other emails, asking why we couldn't offer another class in the Spring, and by the time I wrote my "perspective" post he had written me a nice email saying he was meeting with the dean the next morning. I volunteered to compile some numbers in a document, showing that 24 students had remained on the waiting list (for a class of 18) when classes started and to demonstrate the demand for the class which, I argued, could be offered again in the Spring. I emailed him the document and went to bed.

To make a long story short, I talked to new hire (NH) briefly in the morning (s/he needed to approve of this plan of the new class, according to the chair -- I had also emailed NH the document) and had another brief meeting with the chair in the afternoon and s/he said that the dean had agreed with them letting me teach one more class and, thus, have a yearly full-time contract.

My husband had been bit upset about my angry email from the middle of the night, but I guess it worked... I'm happy, but the way things transpired was quite strange. Last Friday the chair had said that it looked promising, that he would use this money/line from "other language." Why did he change his mind? I really don't buy the "blaming the dean" story. Sigh... Since yesterday he said that he had told the dean that there wasn't a need to ask for funding because he was using another line that hadn't been used. (and I was "You said what??" in my head). Anyway... and there's one more thing that NH said that demonstrated that they'd obviously been talking to each other about the situation.

So... yeah, my fight will continue, but at least I don't feel broken anymore and I know that in the long run I'll be stronger and even more motivated to advocate for myself. Not that I have much, if any, leverage 'cause I don't.

Most importantly, I'm no longer the odd-one. Now I can look all my lecturer colleagues in the eye and not feel a pang inside. (Of course it's still kind of painful to know that some of my colleagues have a 3 year contract & make 50K, not 36). I've got a long way to go, I guess... we'll see what will happen.

(if you're curious, what I'd really like is that a position opened at U#1 where my husband works & I could go back there & not have the long commute anymore)

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" Matthew 7:7 KJV

(and 7 is my favorite number [teary-eyed], I was born on 7/7)

"For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened."

Matthew 7:8 (English Standard Version)

I was offered the full-time position.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I still have two "half jobs."

I enjoy teaching and (most of ) my students are great.

I will only be missing 6K from last year's income. Maybe I could even teach another class at U#1 to help me get some of that?

It may hurt not to have "full-time status" anymore as a woman in her 43rd year and basically no perspective of a "real career," but it's not the end of the world.

It really really hurts to be aware of the unfairness of one's situation, but compared to millions of disenfranchised people in the world, life is very far from unfair to me.

Most everything else is lovely in my life, why be so bothered by this.

Pain and emotional distress make us more sensitive to other people's suffering and, hopefully, better people.

I hate to live this "roller-coaster" life, but it's the only life I have, so it's ok.

I can choose to be happy in spite of my frustrations and sense of being unfairly treated.

I'm sure there would be many more items in this list, but I'll stop here for now.

And now I'm just so sleepy my eyes are closing. I think I won't even have dinner before collapsing.

I'm done. Thanks for being a sympathetic (albeit silent!) listener to my plight.

Edited to add: I received a nice email from the chair just now. I don't think things will change because apparently it really IS the dean that's the problem, not him. And not the new hire as I suspected. I must not let my hyperfocus & mental hyperactivity related to negative situations and facts rule my brain, right?

The Angry Email.2 & PANIC!! I'll Need Rec. Letters!

First, let me explain that the original angry email was read, edited and vetted by my very cool-headed (but not less indignant) husband. So I think it was pretty OK.

Last night, however, I didn't want to wake up my husband. I tried. I made noise in the bedroom. Turned my bedside lamp, turned the bathroom lights and left the door open, sat in bed, whispered his name, but no... he didn't stir. :-(

So, a couple of hours after I wrote that angry blog post, I also emailed the chair. I don't really "regret" per se what I wrote, but I actually suggested a "solution" to the problem that he said could be tried (creating a new section of beginner language and dumping my advanced students into colleague's class -- a "solution" not guaranteed by any means which would have me teaching three 5-contact hour classes and being paid the same as 3). That was kinda of dumb of me, right?

Anyway, after having stayed awake until 5 am and then waking up at 7:30 to leave and teaching for almost 4 hours straight, when I drove home late afternoon I had to call K on the phone to stay awake (and -- I NEVER EVER do this & I'm generally caffeine-free, but there were soft drinks from a party they had yesterday, so & I actually grabbed a can of Coke and drank almost the whole thing before getting to the car, I really felt like I needed the caffeine for safety).

During that long conversation while I drove, K was telling me about the things he feels I shouldn't have written in that email and then he dropped a bomb that will have to color my interactions with everyone at U#2 and, which according to him, my email has jeopardized: I will need recommendation letters from these people I deem so unfair.

So, yeah, I wish I could just continue on my way carelessly, but I will need their recommendations if a position opens elsewhere, that's for sure.

Sigh... I don't need to ask the chair though, do I? And I still want to try to have a better relationship with NH (new hire).

OK, that's it, post over. I'll write another one in which I want to bring some perspective into the panicky last 24h.

Monday, August 25, 2014


(because I don't swear, I cannot bring myself to, even under such absurdly & patently unfair circumstances)

What would you do?

A family to help feed and clothe and no possible real job in sight FOREVER and ever. Those are my prospects.

I wish I could just walk away and force them to try to hire someone to teach my classes the night before I start teaching them.

That's what I wish I could do

Because having the courage to tell someone that YES, that's what we're going to do with you, exploit you for all you're (NOT) worth and "Hahaha!" if you walk away it's OK, just do it. The night before, when work has already been put in, when you've been communicating with students, when they know you need the money...

THAT is inhumane, not just unfair, it's... I don't even have the words for it.

How am I supposed to answer that email? How can I even face my students at 9:30 am tomorrow morning, after a 1h+ drive and such emotional turmoil? How can I find the strength to do this?

And the worst thing is that I KNOW there'd by a desperate person somewhere willing to move to make only, say, 20K a year to teach these classes. That's how absurd the situation in academia has gotten. They can get away with ANYTHING because that's how desperate we all are.

Why do I allow myself to be tortured like this?

If I don't do this we may not go really hungry, but I don't know if we can really pay the mortgage and live. For sure we won't be able to travel next year, we won't do so many things, I just can't do it.

But teaching 5 class meetings and being paid the same as 3 is something I wish I could refuse to do.

What in the world can I do?? But sign on that dotted line and walk like a silent lamb to the slaughter? I'd rather go kicking and screaming, but for who to hear?

If I could do some kind of protest, something, anything but WHAT? HOW?

I think that they actually WANT me to quit, they totally do!

How can I go back to putting the final touches on my syllabus now, How?

First Day Blues

I'm not looking forward to going back to teaching this afternoon. The facts that I don't yet have a contract at U#2 and that at U#1 I've been having less and less students register for my classes every Fall are just depressing.

I hope I will soon get more energized when I meet the students and begin to interact with them. I need to feel more enthusiastic so they will be too! Hopefully adrenaline will kick and things will fall into place. Sigh...

There are many good things to consider, actually:

  • I now have a great car for my mega-commute, 
  • I have Fridays off (though I'll be taking on a 6-week project at U#1, if accepted, and I've scheduled multiple therapy appointments for this day), 
  • I have a new, amazing office in a renovated building (I hope to have time to write a post about this later)... 
And of course some negative things, the main one is: I didn't finish the HUGE translation project I started in the summer and now I have to try and squeeze it in while teaching 5 classes, with 11 contact-hours per week and around 10 hours of commuting...

I know it will all work out at the end, but I feel overwhelmed and not very hopeful. I will have to write about this later, but I think that having the ADHD diagnosis is actually being detrimental to my well-being right now rather than helpful. :-( I just feel like I'm trapped and there's no way out, whereas before I just rolled with the punches & got stuff haphazardly done, but mostly done. Now it's like I'm paralyzed by own incompetence.


Sorry about the negativity. Hopefully I'll be over all this soon. or not. we'll see...

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sleeping In.2

I know it's ridiculous to have two posts in a row with the same title, but I couldn't help it, it's kinda fun!

We drove to PA Friday night because we had a wedding to attend yesterday. We left our kids with friends and went to the wedding, which was small, cozy and fabulous (too bad it rained and it was all held inside this beautiful barn instead of outdoors).

We decided to drive back last night & got home around 2 am, so K & I took our last day of summer break to sleep in until 11 am! It wasn't as bad as last Friday, but I still feel a bit out of sorts. Sunday afternoon/evening is the absolute worst of the week for K & I, though, it's hard to feel cheerless on Sundays. :(

Friday, August 22, 2014

Sleeping In

I hadn't slept in in ages. In addition to that, I'd been going to bed 1-2 am every single night... 

This morning I could have gone to a general faculty reception & meeting with my husband, but as an adjunct I don't really need to & it just makes me mad, so I decided to stay at home because I had tons of things to do -- Ha ha!!

After getting up and preparing the boys' lunch (K dropped them off) and checking email, I decided I would to back to bed -- that it would be my lady chance in a while to sleep in. I woke up at noon, with a soft rain falling outside! It was nice, but it made me feel guilty.

The biggest problem, however, is that I had a really hard time getting awake & got really sluggish, with a foggy head, so I wasn't very productive for the rest of the day! :-( And then I felt even guiltier! :-( oh well... I can't go back in time now!

We're on ou way to PA where we have a wedding tomorrow. Too close to the beginning of school, but it's ok. The groom is a really close friend of my husband from his postdoc. We're also going to stay at our friends' house, we haven't been there in over a year!

Sorry, but I feel completely dull right now... But hopefully I'll be my mostly enthusiastic self soon!

Dark Blue

Same dress, different sandals, different nail color. This time I splurged on the "good brand" online because I couldn't find this color anywhere (and I was curious to see if this brand was really good or what, it was!). Links later added! (I'm I was on my phone)
Edited to add: Nobody will be curious, but just in case, it's a color named "style cartel" and described as "inky cobalt blue." I debated between this one and "after school boy blazer" color or "midnight cami." Such creative names! ;-)

First Day - Same Lunch as 7 Years Ago!

On Sept. 6, 2007 my five-year-old son went to school (two weeks late) for the first time -- you can read all the details & see lots of photos here!!

This year, I decided to prepare again the very first lunch he had nearly seven years ago for the boys to take to school on their first day (which was last Tuesday): Inari Sushi!

Too bad my younger son doesn't really like Inari (he doesn't like the sweet tofu pouches, and I forgot to include soy sauce!) :-(  But Kelvin devoured them all!

(And I was there to see -- I sent the lunches with them in the morning, but then remembered I needed to photograph them for the blog, so I went back to the school! ;-) Ha! what a devoted blogger I am!)

No, but seriously, I had to do that because I was very excited I'd made the same ("exotic") lunch from 2007! ;-) And I love it how the boys and I can keep all these memories very  handy because of my blog. YAY!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

No Contract Yet

Quick update on the current situation: I haven't signed a contract yet, but I begin to work teach on Tuesday (I've been working already on syllabi, etc). Who knows how late my first paycheck will be! :-( (the regular one comes only at the end of September, already very late).

I bumped into the Dept. Chair today and s/he told me that s/he was working on my case and that a decision (probably in my favor) would be made by tomorrow. I'm just hoping it will be true.

There are many things going on in my life which I'm not blogging and I guess that part of the reason I'm "blocked" is this unsettling situation of not being sure of what will happen. I know I have a job and that I'm teaching, but I hope it can be a bit more "fair" of a job. At least a one year contract. Obviously I would much prefer a 3 year one and 50K instead of 36K, but I have to be thankful for whatever I have.

what a way to being a new semester, right?

OK, I got this out of the way and I may have good news soon, so maybe now I can resume "regular blogging."  Sigh...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Driving back home

Just to say that we're driving back home today. 

I wrote a nice long post about all this earlier, but I was offline and left the app & lost it. :-(

So I'll just do this laconic post for now. We had a lovely time with family in Montreal & they're driving down to visit us next weekend! That should be great! 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Road Blogging

We are much more careful with data usage now that we're using Ting & no longer have Sprint's unlimited data (and high bill). It's so much better this way!

Instead of paying nearly 200/month for three lines and having the impression that you have more freedom because of the "unlimited" usage, we still use quite a bit and pay way less! (70-80 a month)

We're stopping on the way and visiting a friend we haven't seen in years, meeting her husband and three young children, and tomorrow we'll arrive in Montreal in time for our nephew's birthday party!

It's a long trip, but worth it! (I think I'll take a nap now!)

On the Road (to Canada) Again!

We're driving to Canada today to meet the new (and very last) :-( nephew in the family.

In don't have time to blog because the alarm didn't go off and we need to get ready to leave! I hope not to forget anything!

P.S. I'll try to blog from the road.

Friday, August 01, 2014

The Angry Email

I got my head off the sand and hit the ground running, angrily.

Whether my argumentative and "deeply disappointed" email will have have any effect, remains to be seen... I know they won't be moved by the fact that I've been "stripped off benefits" and will still teach 19 contact hours this year (13 of them this Fall) and not get any benefits.

As we say in Portuguese, I wish the chair and the new dean ('cause I suppose the outgoing dean won't have anything to do with this anymore after having made the decision) could "put their hand on their consciences" ("por a mão na consciência") and give me a full-time contract already.

Sigh... I cannot stand too many more years of this, that's for sure! But what is the alternative? What is it???

Trying to Unbury my Head Off the Sand

For two weeks I buried my head on the sand, so to speak, and didn't do anything about my outrageous offer letter. Well, outrageous to me. Thousands of people  receive such letters at the start of every semester, some perhaps only a few days before classes start. And most are paid way less than I am per class (national average is 2,500, at my current institution I'm paid 6K, even though two of those classes meet FIVE CLASS HOURS a week which brings me into the 2.5K territory!!).

The Adjunctification of Higher Education has reached epidemic proportions and the fact that it's a systemic problem without a solution in sight just depresses me more. I'm just one more statistic, one more fool who keeps swelling the ranks of desperate people with PhDs practically begging for a job and willing to be exploited at the mercy of these schools.

I tried to prevent this moment. I met with the chair last year in October or November, then again in February, but my fate had already been sealed by the dean -- one of her this person's deeds before moving on to a shiny new position (as college president or something?) out West. I don't wish him/her well, I have come to loathe university and college administrators. Sigh...

Just last week the issue of adjuncts was part of PBS's News Hour and there are people who actually want to bring our plight to the Labor Department. I don't see anything coming of it...

It's just one more example of how higher education is crumbling and becoming more and more like corporate America. GAH!!

Collateral damage, that's what I am/ we are. Simply collateral damage, as long as the parents are willing to pay, the schools will be willing to go on exploiting people.

Sigh... I think I'll be happier with my head still in the sand, I'll unbury it only long enough to write an angry letter to the chair which will not amount to anything, probably -- my husband wants to write/co-write the letter. And I'll go back to stressing out about students enrolling and feeling my anxiety builds as the semester is about to start...