Monday, April 21, 2008

TGI Monday

Well, thank Goddess it's MONDAY. I'll bet you haven't heard that in awhile, if ever. It's just that I had one of those weekends that makes my 9-to-5 job seem simple and easy-to-manage.

First, we'll talk about my adventures in technology. My new computer arrived Saturday afternoon. The good news: I'm sure you'll all be relieved to know that I've been able to repair my Second Life avatar's hair and have even gone so far as to improve her shoes. Dealing with the Perpetual Mystery that is the Vista operating system has not been too torturous, although it also hasn't been anything I would call "fun." And my cats like the new computer very much, the CPU is nice and high and wide and just right for putting chilly little paws, behinds, and bellies on.

But the bad news--and further proof that machines are already more intelligent than we think--is the fact that my old computer committed hari kiri Saturday morning, well before I was done with it.

The CPU went first. I turned it on early Saturday to complete the software upgrades and file organization I had planned to make everything easier to move to the new system, and ... uh oh. It won't move past its BIOS scan. The black screen with its big green corporate logo just sat there and mocked me, silent, unmoving. Damn.

So I powered down and got a cup of coffee and went back to try again (the conventional geek wisdom being, if at first you don't succeed, turn the damn thing off and reboot).

This time, I could tell by the sound of the CPU that it wasn't making it past the BIOS scan. Good thing, too, because I couldn't see anything. The monitor was black. Everything was black. And everything was cold except the 12v power source, which felt just short of meltdown, which it was. I must admit that this is not the first 12v power cable this monitor has destroyed, but I found the timing, er, interesting.

I spent a significant portion of my Sunday dragging around to places that were unlikely to have this particular power source, which for some reason features a hard-to-find four-pin connector. I was variously treated to interacting with sexist goats who were sure that a 40-something female couldn't possibly have any idea what she actually needed; with sympathetic-but-unable-to-help salespeople who had less than a modicum of real knowledge about any aspect of computers aside from having a MySpace page; and at least one complete moron who never got past believing somehow that I was trying to hook up a television set--this despite my having the product in my hand, holding it out to him, and saying very clearly in a language that was clearly the first language for both of us, "I NEED ANOTHER ONE OF THESE, ONE JUST LIKE THIS ONE, SEE?" Said moron then pretended to "look it up" on the company's inventory and announced that potential replacements would "start" at $80. Interesting, since the last one of these I bought cost $25, delivered, so he might also have been a crook; however, without further evidence, I'm placing all my money on the "moron" option.

In the end, I was unable to come up with a solution for any part of the downfall of my old CPU in the brief period of time I had to focus on it. We'll order another power source online, just like we did last time this happened. I have a friend who has proposed an interesting solution for the CPU issue (which could be a fried motherboard, and yeah, I really want to have the motherboard replaced on a computer I was just about to stop using altogether), so all this will be solved soon. But not as soon as I would ideally have liked. Harumph.

The other part of my weekend that made things less than fabulous kind of took me by surprise. I received the expected "thanks but no thanks" letter in response to my application for a position at Berkeley City College. I can't say I didn't expect this particular bit of rejection; the position was full-time tenure track and I have no teaching track record. My exhibition record is good, but not astonishing--I'm definitely an "emerging" artist, as much as I hate that term. So I figured I would not even get the chance to interview for this position, and I was right.

But for some reason, expecting rejection didn't make it any easier to take. I was really, really disappointed and depressed that I hadn't gotten at least an interview.

It's not because I need a job. I have a job, and even though it's not an art teaching job, it still has elements of art in it. It's really flexible and I work with great people. And it pays about $11,000 more per year than the full-time, tenure track position at BCC paid (and that's another blog entry right there).

But it sounded like a great position, teaching things that are right up my alley, and I KNOW I'm a great teacher. I had a brief stint of teaching when I was working on Master's Degree #1 back in the 1980s, and students loved me--not because I was an easy grader (because I definitely WASN'T), but because I was a good teacher and they actually learned things in my class. I also had a history of calling out troublemakers and the kinds of students who take up class time trying to show off or be cute or otherwise just draw attention to themselves, and my serious students really appreciated that. I had students who came back after the end of the quarter and thanked me, who told me they'd told their roommates and friends to make sure and get the section of the class that I was teaching. And I have to tell you, this meant more to me than any compliment I've ever had in my entire life, before or since that time. It was incredibly rewarding.

Unfortunately, there is nothing in my official paperwork that can convey this to Berkeley City College ... or any other potential academic employer, for that matter. I was teaching as a GSI, and it was 20 years ago. Hiring entities don't care that, while working on my MFA far more recently, my fellow students frequently came to me with their questions and discussion points instead of the instructors. There's no way to document that in some classes I was as much the instructor as the instructor was, and not because I took on the role myself, but because my fellow students recognized something in me that was clear and grounded and approachable. Someone is going to have to take a chance on me, on something not unlike blind faith. It is unlikely that chance will be a full-time, tenure-track position.

So I don't begrudge Berkeley City College the decision they made; from a pure business standpoint it makes sense, although I personally know they blew it and missed out on someone really terrific who had all the bells and whistles they were looking for and who would have done them beyond proud.

Somehow, though, that doesn't make it less disappointing.

Ah well. I'm trying to view it as an opportunity, as the "right thing" happening. I have a lot of art projects ongoing right now, and if I'd gotten that position, I'd have lost lots of art-making time to curriculum-preparation time. I'd be making a lot less money and would be trying to figure out how to make ends meet. Things would be very, very stressful and difficult and hard.

And yet. And yet ...

TGI Monday. See what I mean?

No comments: