It’s not the shiniest or sexiest anniversary—I’ll have to wait a few decades for that—but mid-May marks two years since the end of my career as a professor. The best & most memorable part was something a student said as I collected final assignments for my Gatsby writing course:
Well have, like, a nice life, I guess.
I laughed when she said it, and I laugh when I remember it. I probably always will. Good one, Jordan.
Here’s some of the nice life I’ve been having since submitting my final final grades in May 2014:
Freelance copy editing or proofreading fiction & nonfiction manuscripts, articles, Master’s theses, dissertations, proposals, résumés, et al. (Need me to edit something of yours? Let’s talk.);
Being rewarded for my experience—and paid accordingly (still a novel concept for someone who spent 15 years in academia);
Consulting and writing for alt- and post-acs for The Professor Is In (Need that me? Let’s talk.);
Supporting adjuncts via PrecariCorps, which I co-founded with Bri Bolin & Kat Jacobsen. We do what we can (based on donations) to support adjuncts needing money for professional or personal expenses;
Encouraging every new PhD & grad student I meet to explore career options beyond academia;
Sharing whatever knowledge and experience I can to help others change careers like I did;
Running guest posts here (Want to do one? Let’s talk.);
Joining folks like Nyasha Junior and Rae Marie in preaching the importance of self-care in academia;
Reading…for pleasure (it’s fun);
Trying to find a home for this screenplay adaptation of Melville I wrote;
Being invited to give a keynote on a subject I wrote the book on—literally.
One more Big Life Change has happened since I last graded something: I became a parent. Among other things, it’s meant:
being a work-at-home dad to an 8-month-old boy who keeps me moving 9-10 hours a day;
learning how to edit and write things (such as this blog post) in short bursts…sometimes with an active baby on my lap;
bragging about my son whenever, wherever, and to whomever I can.
With apologies for any humblebragging, here’s what I haven’t been doing in the past 2 years:
Hitting reset every academic year on the same dead-end contingent position;
Seeing my PhD grow more “stale” & “past due” <eyeroll> as I reach another anniversary of my defense (8/1/05);
Feeling an odd satisfaction in writing “was a professor” on a few academic writing projects still in production;
Hearing well-meaning but somewhat out-of-touch colleagues telling me to “just hang in there,” “keep trying for more jobs,” or “apply for the tenure-track lines we expect to be offering soon” (this doesn’t help);
Being not-so-subtly badge-checked at conferences;
Seeing those teaching positions vacated by Baby Boomer retirements filled by more & more adjuncts;
Wondering why I was a good enough professor to be perpetually renewed for a one-year gig…without being the right “fit” for a full-time position;
Being a road scholar and trying to survive on an adjunct’s, er, salary <eyeroll>;
Wondering why I kept tormenting myself with false hope & blind optimism that a given year would be The Year.
There’s a lot more (of course) that I haven’t been doing, but I’ll leave that for my tweeting and occasional Storify-worthy rants.
As for what’s next….I don’t know. I’m taking things as they come.
As a parent, I’ll keep learning to roll with it as my son grows up. As a freelancer, I’ll keep copy editing or proofreading whatever my clients need done. As an activist, I’ll be hoping PrecariCorps can get steady donations to help all adjuncts who contact us. And, as a post-ac, I’ll keep watching the calendar for when my anniversary of leaving academia is something more memorable or scintillating than cotton.
Unless I want to start marketing t-shirts for post-acs. That might make my new life even nicer.