unravelling at night what she had woven during the day, as a clever ploy to “buy time” and stave off hungry suitors - Odyssey

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revisiting past conclusions

From: old friend [mailto:old.friend@someuniversity.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 17, 2010 10:19 AM
To: challenger
Subject: Re: hello!

uh yes, i think you might have a vision of what it's like to be a tenured professor nearing retirement nailed, but the reality on the other side is somewhat more frightful. for certain you have that flexibility to drink cups of coffee at a leisurely pace while reading your newspapers, but always there in your mind is the guilt you carry because your funding application remains unfinished, or papers remain unmarked, or your proposal has stalled out. the leisure isn't unburdened and free: it comes at the opportunity cost of progress and you will know this all to well.

your meagre funding will carry you so far, but after four or five years this "pretirement" will catch up and your funding will run dry. you'll look at your friends you went to undergraduate with. they'll have titles like "manager" and a mortgage. you'll be overqualified for everything save for jobs in academia that don't exist except for those contractually limited term appointments where you won't have a spare moment to pursue your research passion because you're too busy lecturing a credit and a half each term, three terms a year.

you'll meet a guy and move in with him. he'll have a "real job" in the "real world" and provide for you, but you'll always envy that he earns a real paycheque while he'll resent that you sleep in mornings.

old friend

On 2012-12-17, at 4:17 PM, me wrote:

.... Do you still feel that this is our future?

From: old friend<old.friend@someuniversity.com>
Date: 17 December, 2012 5:58:02 PM EST
To: me
Subject: Re: I think about this a lot

wow, i sound bitter or something.

but i read this over and that's still how i feel.

my five years are up in september when they start billing me eight grand a year, but my supervisor's telling me that i'm optimistic if i think i'm going to be out by next december.

the people who are getting shortlisted for lectureships or tenure track positions that pay a "meagre" $65,000/year have three or four publications, if not more. i have one. and i'm desperately trying to push out eight chapters/60,000 words between now and august with not a spare moment to publish anything.

kids with masters degrees are managers and senior policy analysts making 80k +.

but it's not all bliss for those who have the three of four solid publications: my friend in this situation has interviewed thrice, with nary an offer.

if i'm "lucky" this time next year i'll be defending my phd, and i'll be unemployable without another year spent as a post-doc.

meanwhile, i've received six distracting emails from undergrads today pissed right off that they received marks of 78%+ in the bird course i teach them. believe it or not, 40% of the course receiving a's and an average of 76% isn't good enough anymore.

okay, enough of this.

old friend


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