Saturday, May 13, 2006

Looking for a Spin Doctor

This post will be a tad self-indulgent - I know intellectually that these things are and will be fine, but I still feel slightly crappy about the situation.

I just found out that "my" department at the Dutchman's university (i.e., the dept. on any campus where I usually teach) can only offer me one spring course and no others this year (it's actually a cool course - not in my specific field, but tangential and I think it'll be fun). I have already lined up another kick butt awesome course to teach in a related department in the spring, but this leaves me with a 0-2 load next year. Now, the Dutchman will be getting a nice wage from the university - his income can easily support us both for many years to come - indeed, he was going to be paying all our living expenses next year and I was going to dedicate all my meager adjuncting income to paying off some of my debt (students loans after 10 years of higher education - grad and undergrad - and a well-used credit card).

But now, the Dutchman will also be paying off my debt until January. Debt that he had nothing to do with acquiring. He is one of those great debt-abhorring Northern Europeans - his parents raised him to revile it and now he has none. This just makes me feel like the biggest vampire in the world - I know we're married and that I gave up a full-time, well-paying (though only visiting) position to come with him to Dutchman U, but I didn't expect our new adventure to turn into a "you want your wife with you, you gotta pay for her" situation. Of course, he doesn't see it like this - he sees it as a temporary situation that will be rectified when I get a permanent position in next year's job market - hopefully! I certainly know I can't spend the next few years teaching 2 courses a year and letting him carry all the weight.

This isn't about the unacknowledged labor of women - we don't have kids or I would consider this year of a lightened teaching load to be a) probably necessary and b) more than remunerated on my end. It's about me being on a nice sabbatical in the fall - but instead of a university picking up the bill, it's my husband. In the spring, I'll be making the usual low adjunct wages.

The thing is, I know I'm making a bigger deal about this than he (or anyone else) is. He feels guilty that I gave up my position here (a great school, but socially I'm not very happy - most of the professors commute from far away) to come be with him. We were sort of told (unofficially through the grape vine) that there would be more available for me in my dept. at Dutchman U - of course, this was nowhere near a promise and didn't really mean anything and now we know that they can/will only give me one course. I am, understandably, the lowest on the totem pole at a huge place where they have full and part time faculty as well as a slew of lecturers who have probably been picking up courses there for years. I feel grateful to have this one, truth be known. But I still feel kind of like a punk.

I know that we are lucky that he makes a great salary - there are many couples living on one grad student income or who are struggling to find any teaching at all to support them (some of our dear friends just had a baby and the father just finished his degree and couldn't find a permanent position; she is still working on her master's and doesn't have any funding). So, this has to do with my issues with not being able to be financially - not "independent" but just "responsible for my own mess" - I made my debt bed and I intend to lie in it until it's gone. But, now I have to share that bed with the Dutchman and I feel guilty about my youthful (and some not so youthful) indiscretions with money.

So, as I said - this is a self-indulgent post - I'm looking to make some mental lemonade out of this - and I'm wondering what others think. I will have a great reason to do TONS of work this next fall - first and foremost because the person I adore more than anything is majorly footing the bill while I spend my days working on my book and making him cool dinners. I'm going to take a meeting with my old advisor to get a game plan going - "so, all my bills are paid until January - what should I conceievably have done on this project to make this lovely time well worth it?"

I just want to hear from the universe that a) it's all gonna be okay in the larger scheme of things; b) I made the right decision to be happy next year (go to Dutchman U) rather than be very unhappy, yet well-paid and with a full-time visiting position; and c) that I will not fritter away this great opportunity to work, etc. - and teach 2 very cool courses (I know that the non-frittering is up to me - I just need a "Yay, Team! We know you can do it!" slap on the back)...


At 12:40 PM, Blogger KLee said...

I know from whence you speak! While my daughter was small, we made the decision that I would stay home and care for the baby. We managed to scrape by on just my husband's salary, but it was rough going. But, that was the choice we made, and it was the right one for us. It was so hard to sit back and just let him carry all the weight. I felt guilty for so long because I wasn't bringing anything in to help support the family. Granted, he will ALWAYS be able to bring in more money than I will, because while people want great public school teachers, they certainly don't get rich by teaching.

You have to remember that you are leaving your home to relocate where he is able to pursue opportunities. There's a give and take there. You'll find your place, I feel sure. They may not be able to offer you much yet, but dazzle them with those things they DO give you, and I feel sure that you will have more offers soon after.

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Katie said...

I know not of which you speak, but I wish that I did. :) I can say with complete honesty that I think you're lovely for having concerns about this, but that it's so clear you made the right decision. You're going to do great work and be happy in the process! It sounds to me like you win. So, yes, Yay Team! I'm looking forward to hearing about it and wish you both all the best.

At 7:27 PM, Anonymous morganlf said...

Yay team, indeed! This situation is quite possibly in my future as well, what with K. (my husband) looking for tech-related jobs and me (hopefully) finding work in the same place.

This could be a blessing in disguise though. If you feel like you're making professional progress during the semester you're not teaching, you'll feel less like you're 'taking' Dutchman's money (even though you aren't). Get an article out--finish a book, etc.

Perhaps there is some service that you can do for the dept. (admissions work, etc). Then at least you'll be showing them that you'll make an effort for them and hopefully they'll be more likely to help you out.

At 8:02 PM, Blogger La Lecturess said...

Boy, that sucks--but it *will* work out and it *is* worth it, and you sound as though you have a generous, loving husband who (rightly) sees your marriage as a team enterprise. Sometimes one person carries more of the load (financially, emotionally, whatever), and sometimes the other does. You'll be in a better situation soon.

(And P.S.: I'm 95% sure of where you're located--I have a college friend who lives in the surrounding town and *several* grad school friends who've had visiting positions there, to which they were indeed commuting from some distance away--and you're right that there's nada to do. My friend and her husband have been there since college and are still complaining about how boring it is! Better to be in a fabulous new location where one of you has a permanent job.)

At 10:49 AM, Blogger medieval woman said...

Just a quick comment (we're north of the border and looking for apartments in a fabulous little city with damn good crab dip! At least in our hotel...) - thank you guys so much for the votes of confidence. It sounds pathetic but I literally teared up when I read them - it just really helps me/us feel not so isolated...

And LL, I'm glad that you know of others who are *probably* nearby, etc. who have had the same experience! Although I'm not happy that they're bored...the campus is a great place if you're an undergrad - there are so many fun people, etc. - but the professoriate is almost completely commuter - when they ain't teachin', they ain't here!

At 2:36 PM, Blogger Carrie K said...

It sounds like you could be concerned not only because he's paying a debt he didn't incur (but not one that he was unaware of) but also that you think you might be taking a step towards the slippery slope of Stepford Wifery.

Somehow I don't think that's going to happen. As La Lecturess states, you're a team. It was a decision that you made as a team for the benefit of one (for the most part), but not for the detriment of the other, and this is just the way the mop flops this year.


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