Friday, November 25, 2011

Welcome, Bald Spot

"This world is gradually becoming a place
where I do not care to be any more."--John Berryman, "Dreamsong 149"
I detailed, some way back, my adventures with andropause and its ready remedy. I suspect that either that remedy (shooting myself in the arse with testosterone just like a big leaguer) or the present semester has triggered the pate of my fathers. All men lose a great deal of hair and fret that they are going bald. It is their version of worrying about getting fat. However, there was, has been, and is a sudden increase in the weight of the sink's tribute. Some people have pay toilets; men have pay sinks.

The added chemicals of someone or something's testicles could have convinced my body that it had done the deeds of manhood that make a bald spot apt. I haven't. No children, house, career, retirement, heartlessness conceived as 'toughness' and boasted of as sincerity, like Mitt Romney strapping the family dog to the roof of the car, but I have had stress.

[This section link free. Ed.]
Two years ago, nearly, my employer's inability to pay interest on the loan it took out to cover interest on a loan from a very controlling lender (a certain religious group) meant that all of its money was going to covering the viggorish, and so the place began to collapse. 20% of the faculty lost their jobs. An entire division was erased. The process took half a year, so there were six months of terror before the blades swung and the bodies fell to the ground.

A year later, the loss of a fifth of the faculty and the crippling of reputation had not, miraculously, gotten the interest payments to go down, and so the president left. This meant that the people who owned the primary loan -- the ones whose loan the other loans had been taken out to prevent having to deal with -- asserting control. Their move was to fire another 20% of the faculty and to institute increasing demands of religious purity. ("Purity" is an important term.) (To me, it sounds like a medicalized inspection of a wedding night bed.)

I won't criticize the controllers of the debt or the institution. Both rounds of firings were suspect. In the first case, other than the division, all of those let go had a medical diagnosis of cancer. The people doing the firing can't have known that, of course. The Trustees would have no knowledge of it. The only catch is that one of the trustees who did the firing owned the health insurance company the school used. In the second case, morality of a peculiar sort appeared to be working, where videre quam esse triumphed. [No translation of the Latin? Ed.] [No, Ed. It's the NC state motto, but I'm punning on it.]

The Curious Spear fends for Chaos
 However it may be, it was. And this semester I have had the entire freshman class. (Actually, I had all but one section. However, I had one section of sophomores, so, numerically I did manage the whole first year.) I love students, love my students, and want each one to become wonderful, instead of merely a wonder. The thing is, though, that the sacred teaching load of 4/4 (eight classes a year) is now ?/?. In my case, it's 5/6. Also, the school has stopped contributing anything to retirement, has not given a raise of any sort since 2006, and now does not pay for classes beyond 4/4. This means that I am paid for four classes when I teach six. [A link to the 13th amendment, perhaps? Ed.] [Butt out, Ed.]

Even that I can say is part of the misery of life, but the truth is simply that five sections of freshmen is impossible to grade. I do not mean that I don't want to, or that I'm dragging my feet. Both of those are true, for me and any human being. Grading is obnoxious.
  1. Smart people don't like reading the same thing over and over, and grading means reading virtually the same paper covering a single assignment.
  2. Nice people do not like judging others, and grading means calling bad bad.
  3. No person likes to waste effort, and there is a deep sense that anything one says on a paper will be misunderstood or ignored.
  4. No one wants to do a bad job, and those who care about teaching want to improve the student's work by writing comments, which take a great deal of time, and yet are going to be duplicated on the next paper.
  5. Advice is like advice to someone on making a foul shot in basketball. It can be good, but it won't do any good until the person receiving it practices... a lot.
No, it's not because of that. It's simply a matter of time. Our Thanksgiving break began Friday, 11/18. I was in at work, and on the 19th, 21st, 22nd, and 23rd. I put in 35 hours of work in my office during break to catch up with where I should have been on grading on the 17th. It also means that I have no time to prepare new lessons for my classes, to adapt to their needs.

I have been, quite genuinely, broken down, even as two more parties have begun garnishing my wages and my benefactor brother has announced that we must move from the house.

The shaft of entropy lights like a match

It has been a semester that has, I feel, cost more than fifteen weeks of life. It has been a harrowing of my head. My soul went through its pains of isolation, meaninglessness, and all the other thrills of enmeshment long ago, I think (one can never tell about these things), but this has been a grating of the head, a wearing, scratching, frazzle. America is in a non-capitalist system right now, in a system without a name, and suffering is written across the walls.

Therefore, if my hair is burned away, my crooked smile's ugliness now braced by a flash of light from the top, then it is only fairly foul to reflect the foul unfairness.