Damn it, Brain!

This morning, I am dragging ass something fierce. I could have used another two hours of sleep. This morning has been brought to me by book brain. Yesterday I made a lot of progress on the book. By the time I went to bed, I had the first 1000 words written as well as a crap-ton of notes, themes, and other things I wanted to include. I probably shouldn’t have talked about it with my extremely supportive girlfriend on the phone last night, because that sorta stoked the fires more. The old writer brain was up until 1:30am, working through things. Taking notes on my phone.

It was glorious.

There is a lot that is going to be involved in this project. I have two ways to go. One of which is going to get me sued, so I can’t be all Sebastian Junger on this and go into journalist mode. Instead, I’ll have to write it as a fiction. Which is fine because nobody would believe half the stuff anyway.

The few people I have spoken with directly about this project are stoked so far. It seems like people want to know how the sausage is made. Higher Ed has left a sour taste in many people’s mouths.

I’m thinking of books like The Jungle, the Sun Also Rises, Drinking with Strangers, and even Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential. Books which are heavy on narration, yet cut deep and to the bone when it comes to disillusionment, pulling no punches, and exposing the subject. I like the voice of Krakauer’s books on ill-fated adventure which usually ends in tragedy. He is good at dotting his I’s and crossing his T’s. I find a lot of similarities in absurdity and redundancy at this place as I would with Joseph Heller’s Catch 22 too. I don’t know. Well, I do know. I don’t read a lot these days, which works against me sometimes, but it also helps in that I have a story that is mine to tell and won’t use what I’ve read as a crutch as much as my own experiences.

Anyway, there is a lot of ground to cover. 18 years before the mast. Four years before that as a student. A lot of it is details. Mostly my process is just going to be to spew everything onto the page in some kind of wordgasm and then try to construct a story from there. I guess that’s how a lot of things take form.

In the meantime, I’ve got plenty of freelance work to do. More to follow!

Telling it like it is

Recently, in facing the impending layoffs, I have noticed the sheer amount of stress that many of my coworkers have been experiencing. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this resulted in heart attacks or other stress-related injuries in some of these folks. They have spent a long time basing their lives around the culture of the Ivory Tower. I’m not even talking about faculty or upper administration. These are the regular people. The Help, if you have to use an Edwardian parlance of what we do here. A life In Service to the Manor as it were.

Just like the servants who witnessed debauchery and privilege run amok in Edwardian society and earlier, you wouldn’t believe some of the stuff I have heard about or seen for myself in this place. Since I might have some time on my hands coming up pretty quick, I am kicking around the idea of writing a book.

Please let me know in the comments or on my FB page if this is something you might be interested in reading about? Mostly I would be writing it for other people who have slogged through the Halls of Academia. But it might be one of those Confidential type works that just air out the dirty laundry. It could be a lot of fun, and quite possibly a very therapeudic experience.

18 years before the mast. Who knows. It wouldn’t be very nice, and it might not make me look like the best either. But it is experience, and that is the best teacher and the cheapest source of good writing material out there.

Like mourners at our own funerals

Last Friday the University President announced that they will be laying off upwards of 65-70 UNC classified employees.

So today, everyone is walking around like a zombie, just numb, stunned, despondent.  Lost.

Everyone is whispering about the layoffs, which of course the upper admins know full well who they are going to cut.  And they also expect anyone who is left to pick up the slack and do the work of 65 people who take with them on average about 20 years experience.   For no more pay.

The University is getting rid of the Classified system too, which used to be sorta our union, since we aren’t allowed to unionize as state employees.  Well that is until this year.  It used to protect employees from at-will firing.  It actually used to mean something.  Now it just means they can hold layoffs over our heads, while the mucky-mucks and faculty get raises.

The rest of us can pound sand apparently.

The only thing that scares me worse than being laid off right now, is the possibility I won’t be.  Those getting the axe are getting two months of severance pay, then they can draw unemployment.  Those who remain will be “Restructured.”

Sometimes I rant about how this place is like a model for a Socialist state.  Honestly, I’ve been talking about that since my Freshman year of college.  Here at this same school.  I graduated 22 years ago.  I worked 30 feet away in a computer lab which I helped turn into a classroom.

In the last five years, I have seen so many changes.  The university got “Woke”.  They spent a hundred thousand on making “All Gender Bathrooms” which nobody uses.  Well, I do, because they are clean.  Because nobody uses them.

The former President got a $400k bonus when she left, and she also ran up a $75million debt for a new building on campus.  Our President went from making $86k per year to nearly $300k.  Our faculty have been leaving like rats from a sinking ship and we can’t hire new people on because we have nothing to offer them.

Such a little closed system, filled with faculty who just continued on from High School to College and never left.  We have our own police, our facilities, IT department, and movers all bill each other, like a nice little closed off economic system.  The place is so out of touch with reality it isn’t even funny.  And the funniest part about it is while they are spreading their Marxist dogma to these poor students, they are also whispering in corners, hoping that someone doesn’t hear about how unhappy they are, or what black market hustle they’ve got going on just to pay the bills.

These names of the 65 are written on a piece of paper someone is keeping on their desk, I am certain.  I hate that everyone is tiptoeing around, worried about who is next.  We all shuffled in to work today and sat down and dutifully started our day, just like always.  I think about how easy it actually is to herd people into box cars.  We just all do what we are told until that final moment of panic, when finality is realized.

The faculty are getting a pay raise at our expense.

The truth be told, not many people here actually do much work.  For the most part, they only do what they are told, they don’t question where something is going or where it came from.  They do the bare minimum and the rest of the time is spent shopping online, eating snacky treats, side hustles, schmoozing, double-crossing, covering one’s ass, and pretty much ticking down the hours of a dull day in quiet desperation until retirement because everyone’s dicks get hard over PERA.

Yes, because having cuts and layoffs and inept coworkers and scumbag upper administrator bosses and throat-cutting co-workers are so worth that retirement.

So you can have enough money to sit on your ass at home and wait to die.  Just like you sat on your ass all day at work, slowly killing yourself with stress.

Sounds perfect.

Today, the Dean came into the office and said, “How is everyone today?”

I answered, “About as well as can be expected! hahaha!”

I got the side eye for that.  Yes, because one of the biggest things I have been reminded of as long as I have worked here, as long as I dated a faculty person, as long as I have a used car and live hand to mouth, while the mucky-mucks complain about the service they got on their last “Conference” trip abroad…

My place.

I am continually reminded of my place.

Well, the place they want me to be in.  They know nothing about me or how getting out of here might be the best thing that ever happened to me.  But I’m sure if they did, they would hold me so close to their hearts it would smother the life out of me.

I am the help.  I am the faithful servant who like in times gone by would stand as the loyal footman or valet for his master, giving up his life in Service to the manor.

This idea strikes me as completely preposterous.