Tuesday, May 5, 2009


For a number of years, when I moved to Long Island, I worked a couple of jobs that really kicked me in the proverbial gut; they were, without exaggeration, soul-sucking jobs with bosses that were outright nasty (not a word I use lightly), who berated me in public (not that berating me privately would have been more acceptable). I was extremely unhappy, and sad, and I was convinced that I never wanted to work in the business world ever again. My self-esteem, which I have to say has never been really that high anyway, was in the negatives, and I merely state a fact when I say I can't remember a single nice thing said to be at a job between June 2001 and May 2003; that's two years of learning how not to be a boss and learning what I'd be willing to put up with.

When I started tutoring, I got my first positive feedback about a month after I started. I remember this clearly because it was the day before my birthday, and it was the first positive reinforcement I'd gotten from any job since my gig as a research assistant in Allentown. (That was possibly the only office job I've had I liked.) I got another one a few weeks later. They came in the form of a response to the Conference Reports we wrote after each tutoring session. I still have copies of them, and once in a while I take them out to look at them. (Hear that knocking? It's the Schmaltz Police.) My now-former director who responded to these Conference Reports wrote me a glowing note of recommendation a month or two, and it was such a glowing recommendation that I was a bit surprised, such that I began reconsidering my career path. Not that I don't still want to teach, but I began reconsidering the level and environment.

What's making me really pause to rethink this is a comparably small e-mail I received yesterday morning. And the end of March I applied for a scholarship for the Writing Center Summer Institute, which is being held at Temple University in Philadelphia in mid-July. I applied only a few hours before the deadline, not really putting too much thought into the application, thinking that really, I would just apply because the original phrasing had led me to believe that the $800 registration fee would be covered. Well, this wasn't quite the case. I was offered a partial scholarship that would cover about 25% of the registration fee but I realize that I simply can't afford to go.

I'm in the works of seeing if something else can be worked out, but I'm doubtful. Aside from the registration, there's transportation, housing, and food, and that adds up to money I don't have. But what's given me pause is a statement from the woman who informed me that I had won this scholarship: She said that the committee had been very impressed with my application and very much wanted to have me attend. She noted that the competition had been fierce, and that I was the only GTA an offer was extended to.

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