Friday, April 27, 2018

the little battles of life

An extraordinary day yesterday, battling both of the academic institutions for which I work, where my courses are due to start in two weeks. It seemed, yesterday, as if they were both out to make sure I can't do my job, which surely - don't you agree? - is counterintuitive.

As I've written, the numbers for my Life Stories memoir course at U of T are strangely low this term; I couldn't figure out why, so I went on the website. And found to my disbelief that they are running another memoir course, taught by a better-known writer, at exactly the same time on the same day. I've been teaching Tuesdays 12.30 to 3 at U of T for more than a decade, and that is the day and time they decided to give to another teacher of memoir. When I wrote to ask, they replied this was a mistake and apologized. Nothing to be done. My class will either be cancelled or extremely small.

Hey ho.

So then Ryerson's turn. My course there is almost always too full - the cut off number is 18 but I've had 19, which is absurdly big. The time, they wrote to say I'm at 12 and the class is full. What? At Ryerson, if we have fewer than 10 students in a class, we're paid less, so with only 12, with a few no-shows or dropouts, I'd end up with fewer than 10 and less pay. When I wrote to enquire about this strange cut off of 12, they replied that they've put the class in a "breakout room" which only seats 12 so they've cut off registration.

Let's get this straight: Ryerson is a vast sprawling campus through the downtown core of Toronto, and they cannot find a single room for my class that holds more than 12? Plus I've already battled them about breakout rooms - they're tiny glass boxes designed for a few students to sit and work alone, completely wrong for a memoir writing class.

Still not resolved.

So on top of the other stuff that was already roiling in my gut, I felt as if the world was conspiring to keep me from doing my jobs, the jobs that help pay my considerable bills. Phooey.

First world problems. I have a job. I have a roof and bread on my plate. Nothing to complain about, but it makes a great story. I love to whine.

And then my home class students arrived, writers who've been working with me, some of them, for years, and what fabulous stories, what skill and focus and honesty. Bad day forgotten. And now the sun is shining again. Only one thing to say: onward!

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