Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Liberal in a Town Full of Trump Supporters

Small Town Local #1: I think President Trump has the right idea! I want to shake hands with that man!


Small Town Local #2: If people are poor, it's because they don't work hard enough.


Almost two years ago, I went from living in a big city where drag queens read stories to children in public libraries to a small town where many people think that homosexuality is a "choice". It was definitely a culture shock.

Although I've become fond of several of my students, sometimes listening to some of them is like listening to a panel of Fox News correspondents. Every time I see one of them wearing a Make America Great Again hat or one of the other locals drive around town in a pickup truck with a giant Confederate flag flying from the back, I have to bite my tongue to keep from screaming.

Yes, it's America, and they're entitled to their beliefs. And I have to be very careful not to become one of those professors who use their classrooms as political soapboxes. But it isn't easy to live in a town where a lot of people think that Hillary Clinton should be "locked up," shake their heads over "fake news", and yell racial slurs at minorities from their truck windows.

I'll be the first to admit that not all of the people in Small Town are like this, and fortunately, I haven't heard any of my students say racial slurs (although one of my students, who is from another country, confided in me that other students from other classes ridiculed him and laughed at him because of his accent when he tried to talk to them).

I'll also admit that there are advantages to small town life, such as the fact that I'm far less likely to get body slammed for my wallet or for no reason at all (both of which did happen to me in the city I lived in previously), and people are generally friendlier here.

I'll also admit that I'm not completely liberal, partly due to certain liberals whose behavior is often as intolerant as some of the Trump supporters I've met, like the ones who try to prevent controversial people from speaking at colleges and have even gone so far as verbally (or physically) attacking them when they try to give their speeches.

Many colleges are in small towns like this one, so it is quite likely that I'll spend the rest of my career in a small town. I'd be okay with that, as long as I had more job security, a salary that enabled me to quit my second job and have at least one day off a week, and more classes that I want to teach, rather than the "required" classes that most of the tenured professors do not want to teach. That's not the case at the school where I'm teaching now, which is why I want to leave.

I've applied to almost forty schools, and I'm hopeful that I'll find something, although I've already received a few rejections. There's a strong possibility that I'll still be here next year, although it's not a guarantee.

I'm worried, though. If I don't find something better for next year, then who's to say the situation will be any different next year? I'll still have mostly the same qualifications. I do need to do more academic research, which is hard when I'm working about thirty-five to forty hours a week at my teaching job (due to my full teaching load, large number of students, department/committee meetings, etc.) and twenty hours (and sometimes more) a week at my website job.

It's ironic (and unfair) that in order to advance in my career I have to do more research, but because I'm not in an advanced status yet I don't have time to do that research. Tenured professors, on the other hand, have fewer classes to teach and assistants to grade papers and hold office hours for them. But I digress. Such is academia. I probably should have gone into something less stressful, like taste testing for the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un.

What about you? How do you react when people start praising a politician that makes you want to Google "one-way ticket to Canada" and "cheap flasks"?

Monday, March 13, 2017

The Girlfriend

When I found out that Small Town Guy had a new girlfriend, my reaction was basically like this:

When I found out they were taking a trip out of town together and saw their pictures from the trip on Facebook, my reaction was basically like this:


I thought I had let go of any feelings I had for him months ago, and truth be told, I'd already accepted a long time ago that he and I would never be more than friends. After that incident where he made me feel like my feelings didn't matter, I found myself cringing anytime someone mentioned his name.

I distanced myself from the friends I'd made here in Small Town and tried to avoid him, which isn't easy to do in a small town like this one. I swear, I keep bumping into my students everywhere: at the gym, at the local coffee shop, and once at the pharmacy, where I was buying anti-itch cream for a rash on my legs (I told the student that I ran into that "Uh, this is for a friend! Not for me, haha!").

When I finally decided to start socializing with them again, Small Town Guy was there, along with the Girlfriend (who isn't New Girl by the way, but someone who occasionally socializes with the group). He mostly ignored me, and I couldn't help but flinch when I saw him put his arm around her and listened to her say things like, "We went to that movie, and it was so romantic!"

I left after twenty minutes. Even before I found out he was dating someone, I no longer wanted to be with him (especially not after he excluded me and hurt my feelings). But still, it stung to see him with someone else.

On the one hand, it's probably for the best. I will (hopefully) be leaving Small Town pretty soon for a different job at another school in another state (if I can find one, which I won't find out about until the end of the school year). It wouldn't make sense to start something with someone when I have to leave again. I hope I can leave and find a job with a higher salary, so that I won't have to work seven days a week at two jobs anymore. (That's mainly why I've been blogging sporadically this school year.)

But on the other hand, living here finally made me realize that there has to be more to life than work. I spent all those years hiding behind my work, developing crushes on guys who just weren't that into me, which made me wonder if there was something wrong with me. Maybe I liked them because it was safer to like guys like that, because then nothing would happen and I could refocus on my work. Or maybe I'm just man repellent.

If and when I move to a new place, I've decided to try online dating again once I get settled. I've been thinking that I'll join Tinder, since I'm on Facebook now (you have to have a FB account in order to join). I've heard that a lot of people join it for hookups, but other people have ended up with more serious relationships because of it. Maybe it'll work out for me this time. Or maybe I'll end up with another freezer full of ice cream.