Saturday, March 03, 2007


If you are part of the sensitive Mormon set, you really won't find this post all that palatable; stop reading right now.

If you're not part of the aforementioned set, let me just say how frustrated I am right now with all aspects of my life. Frustrate means "to disappoint" in Latin and has as its root the idea "in vain."

Is all this effort in vain? I've been in school non-stop since nineteen ninety-five. I have been kissing ass instead of kicking ass during most of my adult life. This whole process of finding a job in academia is just a mess. I have encountered bigotry, weak scholarship, odious personalities, and a near pan-academia lack of professionalism as I've searched for a job. One school that I visited didn't contact me for FOUR F***ING weeks after my on campus interview. I emailed them to ask about the position. Three days later I get a response saying that the position had been offered to someone else and that they had accepted it the previous week. I'm left wondering if I would have ever been contacted had I not emailed them.

I don't really care where I get a job anymore. I really want the job at North Alabama, but Coker would work too. Hell, U of U for one year Visiting would be alright. I've quit caring. Yesterday in my interview with the selection committee I just decided to be myself and answer the questions how I would if I were just talking and not trying to get a job and to impress them. I call it my "Red" from Shawshank Redemption Parole Board Approach. Every interview, you always get the same two questions: 1) What are your biggest strengths as a professor? and 2) What is your biggest weakness?

I told them that my biggest strength is that I'm a gifted teacher, proven by my repeated perfect scores in my student evaluations. When they asked me my weakness, I answered "Pride." And when they asked me how so, I responded that I really didn't think I had any weaknesses that needed mentioning, that I read my evaluations and took the feedback from them to heart and tried to better myself more and more each semester.

I know it's prideful, but I admitted it to them, because if I had to say "I care too much" again I was going to hate myself.

Coker has poor pay, really bad benefits ($822 a month for health insurance for my family) and no dental insurance. But, it's a job, it's a great town, and the people were pleasant and collegial. They even invited me to their faculty senate meeting.

I am also frustrated spiritually right now. I seem to be numb to any sort of intuition or prompting of the Spirit. I don't have time to do anything that I should, so it's my own fault, but I was hoping I might have built up credit from years past to serve me in this time of need.

I am so stressed out. I am still getting over that hellaciously bad cold I caught in Whyoming (not a typo). One of my classes is filled with little preppie shits that jailhouse-lawyer with me over every point on every quiz. Their indifference to their acquisition of knowledge in my class astounds me. Their sole concern is their grade. It can feel maddening at times. George Harrison sang "All Things Must Pass" beautifully, and I know that it is true, but then I read something by say, Abram J. Ryan that says "

How swift they go,
Life's many years,
With their winds of woe
And their storms of tears,
And their darkest of nights whose shadowy slopes
Are lit with the flashes of starriest hopes,
And their sunshiny days in whose calm heavens loom
The clouds of the tempest -- the shadows of the gloom!
And ah! we pray
With a grief so drear,
That the years may stay
When their graves are near;
Tho' the brows of To-morrows be radiant and bright,
With love and with beauty, with life and with light,
The dead hearts of Yesterdays, cold on the bier,
To the hearts that survive them, are evermore dear. "

or by Ruben Dario that laments
"Juventud, divine tesoro,
ya te vas para no volver.
Cuando quiero llorar, no lloro.
Y a veces lloro sin querer."

And I wonder if one day I'll wake up and be an old man and look forward to the grave and a hoped for reuniting with my loved ones beyond the pale. (No, I'm not depressed, just worn out and stressed).

I haven't been at home with my family in two weeks. I've been sick, on three different trips, to the doctor, been told I had blood in my sinuses. After working on my diet, this morning I weighed 387, so I can't seem to get below that number, no matter careful I might be.

Perhaps my faith is being tested, but I feel like I've been tested enough. I need a Staples Easy Button for my life right now.

Imagine going to school for 12 years and vying with 300 other people for 75 jobs and knowing that there is no private sector.

Fark me! This is worse than the dissertation, which I can't finish because I've been travelling all over the damned country trying to get a job so that this will all mean something.


Paul Dunn said...

Mac, buddy... let me just tell you something. I've been there. It really is hell too. All the pride, all the rejection, all the unprofessionalism, all the waiting. And finding a job when you don't currently have a job, that's the basement of hell... and it feels like Satan has locked you down there and thrown away the key.

I've done some things in my life that I'm not proud of. In my opinion, the guilt and the shame of those actions are NOTHING when you compare it to looking for a job. At least on some level you're able to forgive yourself and move on. Perhaps it's my pride, but it's way easier to deal with your own thoughts and feelings than it is to deal with someone else's. Obviously there are tons of other experiences, which I have been fortunate enough to avoid, that are more hellish... but if there is one thing I detest it is looking for a job.

However, there's one thing you and I have going for us. It's what you're always talking about. PRIDE. But here's the thing, you're not the only one proud of who you are. I'm proud of who you are. Mickelle is. Your parents are. Tons of people out there are in the Mac Williams Fan Club.

There's a difference between healthy pride and foolish pride. When I look at you, I don't see a man filled with foolish pride.

Stand up and fight. Throw some punches. If you let the world knock you down, then get back up. Did we give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell, no! (Shut up, I'm on to something.)

Fellow Miscellany readers... am I right? Are you not proud of who Mac is and what he's accomplished? Maybe what we need here is an intervention... because I'm not going to sit here and allow you to kick yourself and be depressed. Yeah, it sucks, and I personally hate it for you. But you're good enough, you're smart enough, and dog-gone-it, people like you!

Life is like a mop. Sometimes life gets full of dirt and crud and hairballs and things and you gotta clean it out. You gotta stick it in here and rinse it off and start all over again. And sometimes life sticks to the floor so much that a mop, a mop, it's not good enough. You gotta get down there with like a toothbrush, you know, and you gotta really scrub 'cause you gotta get it off. But if that doesn't work, you can't give up. You gotta stand right up. You gotta run to a window and say, "These floors are dirty as hell, and I'm not gonna take it any more."

I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it!!

You can do it! You get knocked down, but you get up again, ain't never gonna keep you down!

Okay, enough TV show, movie, and song quotes. It might take many months to find that new job. You have to mentally prepare yourself for that. If those other schools don't want you, that's their problem not yours.

Stop kicking your own ass and kick someone else's. Don't swallow your pride... spit it somebody's face.

swampbaby said...

Hear, hear Paul Dunn! I'm sorry you are having such a rough time right now, Mac. I don't really having anything great to say about it that you don't already know or haven't already heard, but hang in there. I do believe things will work themselves out.

My advice - don't get so busy with the busy work that only wears you out that you can't do the spiritual work that fills you up.

Norman said...

Hey Mac (and Paul),
Much as I admire Paul's motivation and enthusiasm (I'm sure he had "Survivor" (yes, I know it's not called "Eye of the Tiger") playing in his head the whole time he ran his half-marathon yesterday), he did once play "We're Not Gonna Take It" by Twisted Sister over the loudspeaker in high school when we were losing to Sprayberry (or some such team) by over ten runs in the first couple of innings. Clearly we were going to take it, and take it we did--repeatedly. I would not tell you to give up at this point because I think you still love what you are doing, but you might just want to take more of a detached attitude toward things right now. Don't throw in the towel, but don't push yourself anymore or ponder all the wheres and whyfores. There must be some song out there that will capture what I'm trying to say...Ah yes! "Take It Easy" or enjoy a "Slow Ride" or eat a "Tangerine". I suspect you ARE doing everything you can. Now just do what you like doing: write your dissertation, teach your classes, be honest in your applications, and interviews and let the chips fall where they may. You don't need to ratchet up the "Red Speech" one more notch of in-your-face. Find something to laugh at; this is the point where you should be getting drunk once in a while and realize that not everything is in your power (I am pretty confident that Jesus, who, by the way, is 'all right' with me, won't care). You may be the victim of some kind of religious bias, or people may be concerned about you finishing your dissertation, or whatever; but at every turn you are still in control of doing what you want to do (even if the parameters have to narrow a bit). Laugh, laugh, laugh(remember when Fox 97 used to play that series of songs with the word 'laugh' in the lyrics?).
Good luck! Bonam fortunam! Kale tyche!
your pal,

JC said...

Job hunting sucks in any industry, not just yours. And the good jobs are always like that, few with way too many applicants that might look good on paper (anyone can) but have no real substance.

As for getting the jobs, well, unfortunately, it's who you know, not who you are or what you know that more than not will get you in the door. Asi es la vida, aqui y en china.

And interviews. Fun stuff (no, not really). I've always been myself in those fun ordeals. It's not like I'm going to be anyone else if I do work there, so they better know what they are getting and I better know that they know and are ok with it.

Your situation is much like mine was after the internet bubble burst. Thousands of people looking for tech jobs, only a few hundred jobs available, and none of them in Utah. ;)

Buena suerte. This too shall pass...much like a painful kidney stone.

Susanna Williams said...

Getting a decent job is like finding an apartment or a partner. It's tedious, tiresome, annoying, sometimes painful, and can make you depressed and wonder what is wrong with you. However, you only need ONE, and one can make you very happy.

As I remember, you didn't have to look too long, either for a wife or your apartment (and think about how great both of them are!).

I think Norm is right: you'll either get a job or you won't. And you'll deal with either one. I don't suggest that you be detached, though. However, I do suggest that you not be attached to one or the other.

You're always fine, pooks.

So, Sooo, Fine. Hayyy.

ryanstout13 said...


I have been in the frustrating position of trying to find a job after finishing law school. I have also been in the position of trying to find a job after being let go by an employer without more than an hour notice. Twice. And I can relate- cause it does suck. And it may suck for a while longer. It took me 8 months to find full time employment after law school.

I'm not sure that I learned anything from the experiences I mentioned- except the lesson that sometimes life just bites. And you push on. And you do your best. And you will find something. And at some point, you will be happy. And it may not (probably not) happen on your time schedule. And when you think you may not be able to push anymore, you do anyway.

You are probably tired of hearing "things will work out"- and it may not be on your time schedule. But things will work out. So, hang in there. Take pleasure in knowing you have a loving family, and just work through the frustration. And listen to Weezer alot, really loud.

Here's a link to a blog post you may relate to

Take care.