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After spending an afternoon grading papers, I’m finally feeling like a real teacher. A frazzled, uncertain teacher, but a teacher nonetheless. There are certain components to my GA position that I am finding very rewarding. I like getting questions and clarifying things in new ways. I like learning things from my students and being surprised by their insights. I like seeing the art through fresh eyes. I also find it a bit intimidating to be responsible for the grades of these people and take that responsibility very seriously, which is why it took me two hours to grade 8 exhibition reviews.
In the midst of my enlightenment about the GA experience is a looming cloud on the horizon. After submitting my application for a spring assistantship (I am still leaning towards working in the Bunting Visual Resources Library, but that is in no way guaranteed) on Friday I attended a letter-writing campaign meeting to protest the proposed budget cuts to our department and the contingent cuts of approximately half our GA/TA/RA positions. In other words, this may be the first and last semester I have the experience of teaching.
In other words, I’m glad I’m still working at the gallery part time.
Well, so much for the contemplative life of a creative aesthete. The past month has spun me like a gyroscope as I continue to carve out a routine that allows me to balance fulfillment and personal space. The major change of plans was my decision to continue freelancing at the gallery, which means I’ve been trekking into Santa Fe two days a week. While I’m glad to retain my affiliation with the gallery and while the opportunity is something of a financial relief, it also means my schedule is much more constricted than I expected. Add to that the carnival of moving, starting a new semester, juggling students, office hours, new friends, and my own research schedule, and the whole idea of contemplative semi-retirement is completely ridiculous. Which is good. Even though I’m back in my default whirlwind mode, it’s obvious to me that’s where I function most effectively. As long as I have a routine (still very much a work in progress for this semester!) and a sense of purpose, I am at my most competent when busy rather than brainstorming new creative projects. Maybe that’s a little disappointing – maybe I wish to be a little more right-brained. But it also convinces me of the fallacy of the whole stereotypical American “retirement” dream for my own future.
As part of my new routine, I am resolved to write more often, ideally on a weekly basis.