I’m always the last to know. I attribute it in part to my introvertedness. I don’t get out enough. I don’t network. I don’t (or didn’t) blog enough. Actually, I’ve been blogging for about a year and a half, just not here.
Since I last graced the threshold of a classroom (as an adjunct) in 2006, I’ve been almost completely cut off from university life. Looking back, that seems rather a traumatic occurence. At the risk of sounding like an old lady remembering the days before the telephone, I have to say: “We didn’t have blogs back in my day.”–at least not the easy user-friendly kind that any old fart can start.
It took me until 2011 before I started a blog of any kind, and it’s taken until now for me to think about writing a blog about life after academia. Doing so prompted me to poke around for similar websites and I’ll tell you: if I thought I had an original idea, I was wrong!
I’m sorry to see so many people suffering their way out of the academy as I did, but I have to say I’m also happy to see a support community forming–something I desperately needed when my academic friends (caught similarly without tenure after graduation) scattered to the wind like dogwood petals just past their bloom.
The forty-eight hours I’ve spent perusing these websites has helped me to better understand the juncture I’ve come to, including this professor never project I’ve begun. Most of the blogs I’ve looked at so far are written by people who only recently abandoned their academic lives (with or without degrees). They focus primarily on the transition: how to leave, how to get a different job, and how to survive the vast array of feelings associated with those challenges.
It seems obvious, but reading about their experiences has helped me to see that I’m in a very different place. Ironically, I think the start of this blog marks the end rather than the beginning of that transition for me. You see, Professor Never is the title of the memoir I’ve written about my journey from corporate ladder climber to adjunct professor. I’ve preoccupied myself with this endeavor off-and-on since I graduated (which is way too long, but that’s what kids and work will do to a writing project).
Today, the book still needs editing, and I still need an agent. Nevertheless, I’m ready to move on–to stop writing about the process of becoming “professor never” and start writing from the perspective of simply being “professor never.”
Many of the blogs I’ve looked at so far started around 2011 then petered off, probably becoming less relevant as the authors (hopefully) found jobs and became less preoccupied with their past academic quandaries. For those who have kept writing, I found an interesting thread. Many are employed in “good jobs”–making decent enough money, not feeling overworked or otherwise exploited, and not regretting their choice.
They don’t complain.
I think, however, that I detect an undercurrent of boredom in many of them. I get that. I can feel that same specter creeping in around the molding of my own door. When you first start working, the novelty of relatively fair pay amazes you. The free time that embraces you like an old friend on weeknights and weekends dumbfounds you. When the December holidays arrive for the first time without paper deadlines, grading deadlines, or the shadow of the MLA Convention darkening the winter cheer, you think you’ve really hit pay dirt.
In many ways, you have.
Eventually, however, the tread wears thin on a job that fails to satisfy your intellectual needs. It doesn’t mean you want back in the ivory tower. In fact, when you think about your old lover, the university, you remember him as a selfish and abusive prick.
So no, in your boredom, you don’t miss the lover. You just miss the sex. And the beauty of that? You can get it elsewhere: at the library or on the internet, for free, and without a dossier to boot.