one job website over the line…

I was reading a jobs website today and ran across an article giving advice for a “successful” job interview out of state.

Just reading the title (basically what I wrote above) twisted my stomach into a knot and left me with a pervasive sense of anxiety.

No, I’m not afraid to try something new. If you know me, you know that’s not it.

Since receiving my PhD in May, 2012, I’ve submitted over 100 applications for full time and/or tenure track employment at universities and community colleges all across the United States. And a couple went to Canada, but that’s a different story.
On several occasions I’ve received calls back from schools that had filled the full time positions, but they asked me to consider contingent work there. In each of those cases, my current contingent work is more substantial and more secure than what I was offered.

I’m worn out.

If it weren’t such a cliché, I’d say “I’m too old for this shit.” No wait, I AM too old for this shit.

I must be at the ragged edge, if it’s provoking anxiety where it used to produce a sense of excitement.

If any hiring committee knew my age, they’d eliminate me in the first round. It’s illegal to do, but makes good business sense and we all know that the colleges and universities are following a corporate model more than a learning model these days.

I have a friend who is also looking for college/university work who thinks each committee knows exactly how old we are. She’s my age. She is convinced that’s why we aren’t finding jobs. At our age.

I think it’s because of the number of candidates for full time/tenure track positions. One local university (local, as in right here in Inlandia!) had 400 jobs for one position. Over 100 applicants is typical.

Northern Inlandia.

Northern Inlandia.

I picture the head of the search committee standing on a chair and tossing the applications into the air. Those that land to his/her left get tossed. Those that hand to the right, get reviewed.

I have a small list of criteria that I think gets people like my friend and I tossed before or right around the first round. Not necessarily age-related, but maybe she’s right about that, too. I feel a spate of adjunct posts coming up…including one about my friend.

So why the anxiety?

I’ve had enough.

I’m still peeling off layers of stress from the divorce. That stage is almost done but it’s left a scary aftermath in my financial life. I’m trying to figure out how I can manage for the rest of my life. I’m earning alone about 38% of what the income around here was before. There are reasons for my lower earnings. I can’t go back and rearrange things; I just have to deal.

I’m ready to stop all unnecessary and pointless job-hunting activities and really focus on what will sustain me for the next however many years. I have to have a plan for the time when B is 18 and his SSI stops.

Frankly, I’d be happy if I could be assured the same number of classes each term. And have health care from the college like the full timers do.

The big state system I work for holds me to three classes a semester and that’s barely enough to get by on. State universities are more profitable to work for and they sometimes give 10-month contracts rather than single-semester contract. They give you medical insurance. I don’t know about their pensions, but I’ve watched my pension opportunities float on down the river, anyway.

So why would I get a jolt of anxiety at an article telling me how to handle those tricky out-of-state job interviews?
I’ve had it. Like I said, I’ve had enough.

I just wrangled a loan modification for this underwater house so that the kids and I can continue to live here, basically paying rent to the loan company. Add in everything tied to “ending a long term marriage with a boatload of offspring.”
It goes on and on.

As insecure as it is, my current job is more secure than setting myself up for another round of applying “out there.” As little as it pays, I need to keep working, take a deep breath, and continue to pinch those pennies until I can figure out what comes next that’s productive, not fruitless.

I’ve pretty much decided I need to be more creative rather than keep chasing after any work that has the word “tenure” attached to it. I think that road, for me, leads nowhere.

I’ve been saying this for a few months, that I’ve had enough. Then I begin chasing my tail again in the job hunt.

Somehow, through determination, the support of my kids, the help of friends, and more determination, I’ve been creating a life where I thought it would not be possible.

I didn’t expect this but it’s what is. I am more than willing to accept it.

You know how people are always saying something like the way to be happy is to want what you get instead of getting what (you think) you want? Do you think there’s a kernel of truth there? Maybe there is.

I think there is, maybe, if you don’t lay yourself down and refuse to get out of bed. If you do a radical acceptance thing, but continue to embrace life and new opportunities…

Wherever you go there you are.

Wherever you go there you are.


About rainshadowfarm

I teach anthropology, am an archaeologist, a drylands agroecologist, community educator, and a single mother of eight grown kids. I currently own and operate an educational and research farm in the southern Mojave Desert, Rainshadow Farm. I'm 100% West Virginia hillbilly. Not necessarily in that order.
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8 Responses to one job website over the line…

  1. A says:

    Hi- This is out of left field, but my neighbors have begun hosting guests via air bnb and are doing
    well enough that they’ve quit their jobs to focus on this full time, while it lasts. We’re by no means as far out in the country as you are, but what they’re offering is rustic. They’ve liked all the people they’ve met so far.

    • I think that’s a great idea, A. I would have to get my kids used to it, but I can almost visualize a learning garden B ‘n’ B here. It would take a special kind of guest to enjoy a vacation in the Mojave Desert, but I think that’s a potential niche. Thanks for suggesting it. Maybe I should crowdsource “what comes next”! 🙂

  2. Whoa. That’s cool. I don’t know if I’m really going to do it, but it’s going into the mix with other ideas, definitely. You’d be such a delight to have out here! I look forward to hearing about homeschooling adventures!!! That’s exciting news!

  3. gmaali says:

    Maybe not a BnB – I have a friend that went that route and there are a LOT of hoops to jump through with liability and facilities. It is a headache. And having your whole life put on hold to “entertain” and “educate” might be fun sometimes – but not always. Have you been to the Cal-Earth site in Hesperia? They have an open house… the first Saturday of the month. It might be a fun trip for your family.
    The reason this makes me so irritated is – my sister has been in retail for 15 years – we are not college educated people (not in our family’s budget) she drives over 70 miles to work for a seasonal part time $8/hr. job. When she tried to get a job close to home at a store down the road she was one of 300 applicants for a Part time job! She is 35 years old and still working entry level jobs. So the idea of tossing a stack of papers in the air and only reviewing the ones that land a certain way….Sounds plausible.

    • I love CalEarth! I’d been over there before Nader Khalili passed and one day he took one of my sons and a friend around their site for a personal tour. He was a truly great man and his work is just amazing. He was a kind man too. I had begun to plan to build a home with their Super Adobe. Since our family was large, with many teens at the time, I was looking at the “village” design. My ex put the kabash on that. And that was how it was — it might not have gotten done. He sure didn’t want to do it or live in it, so we didn’t. I still think about doing that in the future…

      And I hear you on the BnB. Very stressful. One of my daughters has mentioned time and again that this land might be good for an eco-village. With Cal-Earth structures. If I had another several acres, I’d maybe agree with her. Right now, expanding the learning center seems like one reasonable choice. On a bad day, moving seems like another!

      Job opportunities up here (in the Inland Empire in general) are just horrible.And moving back down the hill costs so much. So many people feel stuck. One of my sons is in retail. His wife (a teacher, employed, thank goodness) and I both keep encouraging him to go back to college. He dropped out to work. I hope your sister finds something so she doesn’t have to drive so far for work. And I hope she finds some place that will pay her more!

  4. A says:

    My neighbors seem to be enjoying themselves and are busily making even more spaces available, but of course location matters —- people are staying only one or two nights (and NOT cheaply, but again, that is related to location) and they don’t have to be entertained, they’re on their own except for breakfast. What I find interesting about air bnb is the international scope, how personalized it is, and how many travelers prefer, and are willing to pay for, experiences that are very unlike staying at hotels. That said, the neighbor’s neighbors are starting to have mixed feelings about
    encountering gawking tourists when walking down the lane to fetch the mail… Still, it’s a part of
    an emergent entrepreneurial economy that is fascinating to watch.

    • That does sound interesting! I know of one BnB in my region, south and east of where I am in the Mojave. I think they are doing well. They have an old historical house/inn — a real draw for many visitors!

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