Saturday, November 08, 2008

Guess My Heart Has A Mind Of Its Own

I've been told more than once over the course of my life that I don't know when to give up. This can be a good thing. At my high school reunion I was voted most likely to lead the country to war, and when the movie Titanic came out, during the sequence where you see how all the different characters deal with their impending doom, my friend Harrison, who was watching it with me, said, "That would be you, barking orders at everyone to fill those lifeboats."

So as character flaws go, it's not such a bad one.

Jack used to say that he hated the word hope. He would, from time to time, encourage me to give up on him. To give up my hope that one day, we would ride off into the sunset together, metaphorically. I told him I would never give up, and that I didn't believe him, in any event, because I knew why he went to Doc G for all those years, and I knew what he meant when he said, "I'm working on it." I knew what the Very Bad Things were, and I never once doubted he would beat them. I never gave up on him, until I had to.

The working title of the novel I was writing, before I decided to write stories here as Postmodern Sass, was I, Hope. It had a happy ending. So does my screenplay. But I digress.

I think it's time for me to give up on California.

I don't want to, but these last few days I've been forcing myself to answer the question, "Why not?" and so far the only answer I've been able to give myself has been, "You're a fool if you don't."

"But my students need me!" I attempt to defend myself.

"They'll manage," I reply, cynically. "The one in a hundred that appreciates you will remember you, and stay in touch. The rest don't matter, and guess what? They won't miss you a whit."

"Ouch!"

"Sucks, doesn't it? You want another reality check?"

"No, thanks," I whimper.

"Tough shit. Listen up. You know all the work you've been doing on the curriculum committee for the last two years, trying to improve the program?"

"Of course. And we've done some really great things. The students have already noticed."

"Yeah, well, the students might think the program is better now, but that and $5 will get you a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Are you really blind to what the rest of the faculty thinks?"

"Apparently."

"They think, who are you to come into their School and dare to suggest that the way they've been doing things for twenty years needs improving? They think you're a heretic because you tell the students newspapers are dying and online is the way of the future. Who are you, to come to San Jose, the home of the Knight Ridder empire, and suggest such a thing? They're horrified that you tell your advertising students they should be taking marketing courses, because you're sending them to the Business School. They might like it better over there, and leave the College of Communications, which pays your bread and butter, missy. You'd better smarten up and keep pushing the mass comm curriculum, and by the way, stop telling the creatives that they should be minoring in graphic design. They can learn to be an art director in our program, by taking that one class we offer in Basic Layout. And how dare you suggest that advertising students don't need a full semester course on the First Ammendment? That's what they think, Clueless One. And then they shake their heads and say, oh well, she's Canadian. She just doesn't understand how things work here."

"You sure got that right. I don't understand why they seem perfectly happy to be working in what is clearly a third-rate School. They don't even seem to want to try to shoot for second-rate. I mean, I get that USJ isn't ever going to be Stanford, or Berkeley, but shouldn't we at least be trying?"

"What has trying gotten you so far?"

"You know! The student advertising agency! It's running right now, as a class, for the first time ever in the School's history. You know how hard I worked last spring, toiling through the layers of administration one has to pass in order to get a new course in the catalog. I wrote the syllabus, and presented the course proposal at the school, then the college, then the university level. You were there, don't you remember?"

"I remember. You used that business as a distraction, to keep yourself from worrying about what was going on with Jack's estate, his family, and Beauty. You didn't even go home last summer, you fool."

"Shut up, you know how Murphy's Law and all its corollaries work. If I had booked a ticket home, the day I left would have been the day Jack's father would have called to say they were coming."

"Yeah, and that worked out so well for you, didn't it?"

"Shut up."

"So, now what happened with the agency?"

"Well, because of all the state budget cuts, the axe has been falling in my department. You know we're tenure-track, so it's not like we're going to be cut, but my teaching assignment changed."

"To what?"

"From two sections of Intro to Advertising, one section of Consumer Advertising, and the Agency this semester; to two sections of Intro to Advertising and two sections of Consumer Advertising next semester."

"That's riduculous. There aren't enough students to support two sections of Consumer Advertising."

"I know."

"There's always only been one. There are 35 students, max. If it's broken into two sections, it'll be, like 20 in one and 18 or so in the other. How does that make any sense?"

"It doesn't. But you're missing the point. The Chair decided to cut the Agency faculty from three to two, and he cuts ME! I'm the one who did all the work to get it going! There wouldn't BE an Agency class if it weren't for me!"

"So, what are you going to do, give up on the School? Give up on California?"

"Wouldn't you?"

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4 Comments:

Blogger Sizzle said...

Honestly? I would move on. Sounds like they don't support you even though you're the one who gets what needs to happen in the department.

If you were the person barking orders on the Titanic, at some point, you'd probably want to jump in one of those lifeboats.

11/09/2008  
Blogger Tracy Lynn said...

Yeah, I'm with Sizz on this one. You can do better.

11/10/2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've done what you can to save the passengers, now get on a lifeboat and paddle like hell, due North.

11/10/2008  
Blogger Churlita said...

Exactly. find a better place. you don't want to settle for third rate, do you?

11/10/2008  

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