By the summer of 2014 I’d had enough of cab driving. I was caught in this lifestyle of not sleeping, drinking a lot, and working an increasingly unfulfilling job in which I barely made enough to keep up. I’d been battling depression on and off for the previous few years and knew I hadta finally do something.
After escaping it all to a cabin in Mt. Shasta California with my Dad for the summer, I returned to Boulder and applied to teach English at some local community colleges, a job which I’d had in mind as a fallback ever since I’d earned my MFA at Naropa years earlier. The appeal of a shit-job like The Beats woulda done had worn thin, and I knew a lot of writers in my community who taught and seemed to like it enough.
I got hired at Front Range Community College by the department chair Tino Gomez because we knew some of the same people and we’d both went to the Kerouac School at different times. I barely had any teaching experience on my resume tho.
I thought I’d go in and approach it like a rebel poet and see thru all the bullshit of academia and have lots of creative new ideas they’d never thought of (like everyone sitting in a circle on the floor!) but I quickly learned none of that really mattered. In truth, I just sucked at teaching, the students seemed to see thru me, and I felt almost constant anxiety about it.
My writing, which up till then had the luxury to find inspiration in whatever moved me in the moment, had to suddenly shift into total coping-mechanism mode, laser-focused on the daily traumas of the new job.
The selections in this book are mostly from those early days when teaching was the hardest. They don’t really reflect where I’m at with the job six years later. Now I feel like it’s all been a pretty good success story, enduring the worst of it, getting comfortable, and eventually doing the job well. In fact, I even see it as my professional calling and wouldn’t really want to do anything else.
- Do you suck at things when you’re a beginner?
- Do you ever have battles between the old you and the new you?
- Do you rely upon strange coping mechanisms?
- Do you hate assholes?
- Do you ever want to escape?
- Do you fight back outbursts?
- Do you ever think people are mad at you?
- Do you feel like a mess?
- Do you persist past things that are hard?