Another Interlude

12 Jul

In January of 2009, I finally found a job as a teacher.

As much of a success as new employment seems, from one point of view, it was an abject failure. You see, my one and entire career goal during my tenure as a basement dweller had been to avoid teaching. Possibly you wonder why I did not want to return to that particular career, particularly considering that I was qualified. That is because you have never been a teacher.

I taught to support myself during graduate school. Here is a secret about teaching: It is fucking terrible. Not only do you see the effects of your own failures, but you see the cumulative damage inflicted by every failed teacher before you. Sometimes it comes in the form of an incompletely quadriplegic student, desperately in love with you and harboring dreams of being an English teacher, but who, through no fault of her own, has never before learned how to write a sentence. Sometimes it comes in the form of a campus cop who has decided to take your class in order to further his career, but who also thinks it’s okay if he packs heat on test day.

That was the school I liked.

This time, I was hired into a for-profit college. It’s the sort of place you see advertised on late-night TV, usually airing ads between the cash-for-gold commercials and the ones for natural male enhancement. There aren’t a whole lot of stories I tell about that time because telling them tires me out. The story Cory likes to retell about my job there is the one where my student menstruated onto a chair during my class. There isn’t much of a punchline to that one, except that the administrative assistant wanted me to clean it up. Instead, I taped a sign saying “don’t sit here” to the chair back and left it near the whiteboard.

However, unemployment is not sexy. The extent to which unemployment is not sexy is the extent to which I was willing to tolerate these things. After Holly, I ricocheted into smattering of unremarkable dates, including one with a VA psychologist named Lisa. Lisa worked with returning vets who showed symptoms of PTSD. I thought she’d be perfect for me. She wore her curly red hair very short, and her smile came easily. Unusually smitten, I pressed her for a second date, but she let me down easy, telling me that, as it turned out, she was only into older men. Given that she knew my age before we went out, I took that sentence to mean what it undoubtedly meant. That is, she was only into men who had their shit together.

I wanted to have my shit together.

As I worked, I developed the illusion that I was working toward something. It was similar to the illusion that I maintained about dating. While my immediate experiences weren’t necessarily ideal, they were necessary steps in an evolutionary progress. Unfortunately, that only proves true in a context where a given subject learns from his mistakes. I began to make plans to try to go back to graduate school, not least because I thought that girls thought that grad students were hot.

Around this time—serendipitously, I thought—a professor at a local college made a date with me. Although, as I’ve mentioned, dating and job-hunting have marked similarities, in fact they are not the same.

It’s worth remembering.


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