Work Is Good

Claudia Isler Mazur

I fell out of work.

A hole in the patternless, loose mesh of my university department widened, and I slipped through it to find myself outside, trying to look in. Was there a hand reaching out, trying to pull me back in? A face looking down (because I was most certainly down) regretfully, full of the promise that yes, soon there would be a hand to help me back in? No, there was not.

After seven years of giving heart and soul to my job, I was told I could “go back to” being an adjunct professor. Going back is most certainly what that would have been. What made it worse was thinking about all the people that are still there, people who somehow managed to get the kind of treatment that I deserved, too. What’s great is that now I can say what I like about them. There are some seriously under-qualified people teaching three and four classes a semester. There are people there who have jobs right now because of how good they are at inviting their superiors over for cocktails. There are people there who are just plain batshit. And it’s okay.

Aside from having to let my position go, I had to face being a non-working person, a non-working wife and mother. I have private, intolerant thoughts about this. I have worked for money since I was twelve years old. I was back in the classroom when my second child was three weeks old–I gave the class breaks so I could go nurse him in my office. I have been teaching college courses or editing publications since the early 1990s. I have always worked.

Could my family afford to have me stay home? Would we be able to pay the mortgage?

And who the hell am I?

But it is okay. I am still sad and full of rage by turns, but I am also hopeful. I am hopeful that with my new freedom, I can say what needs to be said and do what needs to be done, that I can put my hands to good work. I am thrilled to be part of Seven Cities Writers Project, a force for good in our community. Breaking ties is tough, but creating new ones is an adventure to savor. I can’t wait to get “back” to helping people express themselves and find their voices. That is my job, and I’m proud of it.

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