My work situation, my alleged eight-to-five "day job" at a college, has consumed my life since early July. I work with area high school students and, due to the uncertainty of school reopenings, panicked parents have decided they want their charges to suddenly take some or all of their classes online through the college and avoid the high school entirely. (There is state funding in place for this.) Each new student means a few hours minimum of confirming with the school that the student is permitted to take college courses, receiving a transcript, scheduling and completing placement testing, meeting to schedule classes (Zoom, phone, or in-person), making sure high school requirements are being met, updating the guidance counselor, coding it all in the system, and on and on and on. Multiply that process by 200 and that is the circle of Dante's data-entry Hell that I have been experiencing. Lunch breaks, evenings and weekends just mean that I can work to catch up on the emails and phone messages I have missed while attending to others during the day. This is untenable and, once the add/drop period closes next week, I need to think seriously about how long I can sustain this pace and job filled with activities that provide diminishing returns.
While this has been happening, personal moments for pleasure reading, creative writing, and general happiness have disappeared completely from my life. Energy evaporates by the time I reach home; I start yawning in my car after each work shift. My brain has felt drugged and fuzzy for a month, I fall into bed exhausted but then sleep fitfully, dreaming about fictional students I still need to register and parents angry because their Megan or Cody can't get into that waitlisted English class. At the same time, the college has moved aggressively this year from a student-focused to a numbers-obsessed agenda. So I attend multiple meetings about yield and recruitment and goals to enroll x more students than the previous year, with precious little discussion about how to give all of these new online or on-campus students a meaningful and worthwhile educational experience.
Millions have lost their jobs and are struggling to provide for their families. I do not want to sound ungrateful: I was not one of the many around the world who became unemployed due to the pandemic. But the job I currently hold bears little resemblance to the one that excited me five years ago, and it is exhausting me. There is something – likely multiple somethings – better for me out there, a position that lets me draw upon my interests and creative skills to work on and towards a product and a life I believe in.
I'm ready to move on.
Here are the September 2020 discussion dates for Laurels Are Poison:
Email comments to me by Tuesday 9/8 for post on Friday 9/11
Chapter 6 "High Jinks with a Tin Opener" to Chapter 9 "Evidence of the Submerged Tenth"
Comments by Tuesday 9/15 for post on Friday 9/18
Chapter 10 "The Flying Facoris" to Chapter 14 "Field-work"
Comments by Tuesday 9/22 for post on Friday 9/25
Chapter 15 "Rag" to Chapter 19 "Itylus"
Comments by Tuesday 9/29 for post on Friday 10/2
I'm planning to breathe deeply in an attempt to awaken my addled brain and start Chapter 1 this weekend. It is the first bit of personal reading I will be able to manage since July.