Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Grace standing on the corner talking about refusing to work for peanuts. Me in a short sleeve with the wind blowing. Shivering. Her private teaching practice earns her five times what she makes working for our school. Suzie Orman and the virtue of not selling yourself for less than you're worth. I left the street corner and descended into the BART, wondering if I got it wrong. If my ideas of what's important are a perfect example of the Nietzscheian "slave mentality," to put off dignity because, as Sarah Palin put it, "your reward is in heaven."

Or as Cannibal Ox put it, "the meek shall inherit the earth / why not? / we can sell it to the frail / and feed em fairy tales." Being taken advantage builds character. And according to Grace, eventually some of us learn this lesson well enough to take advantage of the situation ourselves. The wisdom of misery. A former teacher wrote me back about the recommendation request: hard up for time but if you send me a bio I'll write you one. One draws the line. Time is precious. Joel says to me on the phone, "I wasn't asking for your permission to bring the dog."

In conversation with one of the department heads last week I talked about streamlining my methods to keep up with the work load: no more than ten minutes a student paper. The kind of gains in efficiency politicians dream of when they cut budgets. I mentioned this in the context of teaching full time, that I'd love to but couldn't keep up with the work load. In response she said that full timers get by because they don't agonize over one student or another. And again, this strange desire to suffer comes back into the conversation. No answers.