Wednesday, December 31, 2014

"Bill, strange things are afoot at the Circle K"

This year has been weird. Generally okay, kinda nice here and there; I ticked some things off lists but always simmering in the background, big changes have been coming. Okay, it's not a time-travelling phone box, but it's feels just as immense in my little world.

I'm leaving academia.

Sort of.

I've been a uni teacher for 10 years. A full decade of tutoring and lecturing and marking and examining and handing over the box of tissues. It's been great and hard and satisfying, so bloody satisfying. But I've never been a permament fixture; just swinging from contract to contract and, in rapidly worsening employment conditions (as in so many other industries), the future's been looking even less stable. Contracts getting shorter, contracts turning into casual hours, hours cut from 20 to four, employment decisions being shifted to committees who don't teach, who don't know the staff.

So I'm leaving.

And it's the hardest effing thing to do because I really love my uni job.

But my uni doesn't love me back. So earlier this year, I picked up extra work at a research centre as their education and outreach person; I work on programs for highschool students, undergrads, postgrads and put together events for the public, work on their website and have a rip-roaring time with the twitter account making believe I actually know something about the research they do. I didn't really know how to do any of those things, but I do now. It's been new and challenging and I've liked that.

But it's also a job with a shelf-life (government research funding will do that, hey), so while I educate and... outreach(?)... reach out(?)... I'm also going back into full-time study. A Masters, just to collect the full set.

I'm retraining to teach high school.

Holy shitballs.

So I'm leaving academia. Sort of.

I'm going back to the otherside of the blackboard/Moodle site, to be a student again, which makes me feel a little like this:

I've spent the latter half of this year really coming to terms with this new direction. I've cried a lot about it because it's hard not to feel like I've failed, that I wasn't good enough, that I've let people down, that they won't be proud of me. But I'm also feeling more calm since the decision was made and my enrolment was accepted because it feels like there's finally an actual direction instead of the usual scramble. It also doesn't feel like a completely closed door on academic life - perhaps sometime in the future, I can come back and teach here again, do research in education instead.

I'm leaving academia. Sort of. The happy little bit of news, if you've stuck with me this far, is that in a deeply satisfying and ironic little last hurrah to academic life... I'm going to be published in 2015 - my own book with a quite reputable academic publisher. Two of my beloved former colleagues and I have had an edited collection accepted, a collection of our research and others in our area. I'm going to be working on that in the new year, writing and co-writing several chapters. I'll be an editor and an author. I just signed contracts and filled in forms about royalties. Royalties! It's a little surreal after so many years of trying to get this happening that it happens now.

A few weeks ago, I started writing down bits of movies and shows that swished past my consciousness. A quote here, a memory there, a flicker past a movie on the TV as Lovely Husband surfed through channels. And a strange little list of them grew. When I looked at the list, it meant something. Or at least, it meant somthing to me.

"Bill, strange things are afoot at the Circle K" - Ted

"We're going to need a bigger boat" - Chief Brody

"I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar" - Wash

"Ahh, a bear in his natural habitat: a Studebaker" - Fozzie

"Yeah, well, The Dude abides" - The Dude

"It's 106 miles to Chicago, we've got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses." - Elwood

"Make it so" - Picard

That there feels a lot like the transition into 2015. If you don't see it, that's cool. It's meant something to me, and given me a titter or two in these final days of 2014.

So apart from all these crazy happenings, how did my year stack up to my resolutions?
  • Fix the work situation. It is well and truly broken, so there's going to be some internal and external fixes, some retraining, some hunting further afield and perhaps a few uncomfortable but necessary conversations with my boss and maybe Lovely Husband as well. Um, yeah... check.
  • Learn to use the sewing machine
  • Sew a pair of shorts or pants for Dear Boy using said sewing machine. I made them yesterday! I'll show soon!
  • Learn more about the camera and how to take good pictures - I did learn more, I swear... I promptly forgot a lot of it, but I'm counting it.
  • Be a better social media operator. Sorry Twitter for neglecting you so badly in 2013. Poor Lilybett and Boy account is still neglected, but I rocked it with my work accounts and my Klout score soared. W00t.
  • Make our home more lovely to be in and less 'uni-chic' and 'that'll do' - yeah, it's still so much 'that'll do'.
  • Be better/smarter about savings, super and health/car insurance - this completely didn't happen.
  • Put together another long-term project (TBA in the next month or two) - Oh hi, intentional play project - I'll be wrapping this up soon.
And what, oh what, do I resolve to do in 2015?

  • Embrace change, just surrender to it - there's a lot of it coming
  • Study hard - take my own cranky lecturer's advice
  • Handle student-teaching/prac weeks with dignity and if I can't do that, be the duck - unflustered on the surface and paddling like mad beneath.
  • Be with my boy, just be, more often
  • Have a holiday on a beach
  • Cross two things off the Before I Go list
What's on the horizon for you in 2015? What do you resolve to do?


  1. That list of movie quotes is the best thing I have read in a long time. It is very much a go with it kinda thing.
    I think I shall write myself a list.. and try and hold myself accountable for it in the new year.

    1. I'd love to read your list when you put it together. Come back and share :)


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