Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Meat and meeting

Your comments are great. Keep it up. As for Mr. Meat, well, I know his type to a T. He majored in hostility and intimidation.

Funny what some readers read into my stories. Despite what Meathead wrote, I haven't ever really complained here about not having or making money. At the university, I even accepted a cut in pay last year and didn't even complain about that loss of $1000 a semester (I was told my previous paychecks had been too high as a result of some bookkeeping error -- ha!).

Look, I think the pay they offer adjuncts at just about every university is pathetic. Worked out by the hour, busboys make more. But typically we adjuncts aren't doing it for money. We simply like teaching. We like passing along the lessons we learned the hard way. I enjoy teaching writing because I love writing and want to share my passion for it as a craft and a career.

Writing is how I earn my living. And since all the media hooha started, I've received many more assignments from bigger publications and for substantially fatter fees. Moneywise, I live modestly but comfortably and don't want for anything (except health coverage). I buy cute outfits at Target and drive my cars till they fall off the wheels with age.

I have tasted the high life, no doubt about that. In my career as a writer on the entertainment beat, I've been to more than my share of lavish Hollywood parties (hundreds, no joke) and met every famous person I ever dreamed of meeting (including Lucille Ball, Mary Tyler Moore, Lyle Lovett, the guys who do South Park, Larry Gelbart and the late Mister Rogers). Stories have taken me to glamorous locales overseas, as well as the poorest areas of every city I've ever worked in. Believe me, there are more unhappy movie stars than you might imagine, and more happy busboys than you might have thought either.

What so many of the kids I've written about have yet to realize is: Life is not about a paycheck. It's not about a car, a debutante ball or a McMansion in Frisco (a booming suburb of Dallas). Oh, boy, is it ever not about those things. Maybe you have to have miles on you to know that for sure. Maybe you have to have known some loss -- of people you loved or of opportunities you didn't realize. You learn that you can live on much less than you thought you had to. And in time, you find that there's a certain freedom in it. Time you can call your own can be worth a lot more than hours-days-weeks-years spent serving a master who doesn't appreciate you. (My friends, the Eds, have taught me that lesson.)

Enough whinging about such serious things. Someone also asked if I ever meet my readers. I hope to meet many of you when the book is published. Or maybe before that we could have a back-to-school get-together sometime this fall. I'm working on a lot of things, including T-shirts and other fun items from the Phantom Prof brand.

It's all about to go off the hook, baby. And I'm enjoying every comment, email and good vibe that you send.

Keep writing, y'all. And I will, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not only have I learned from you that it isn't about the paycheck that you receive from your job, but it isn't about the "ideal" life either. You see, I just graduated from SMU and I walked away learning more lessons from your one class than all the other classes combined. I am an "Ashley"...harsh, but true. I was the ideal - graduating from a prestigeous university in less than for years and moving on to bigger and better things...a soon-to-be husband, a "wonderful" job, and an even oh-so-more "wonderful" suburban house. I wasn't going to college looking for a husband, but I was about to walk away with one. The joys of pleasing everyone!...everyone but myself. Thank God I called off the wedding and am now pursuing my lifelong dream. I owe so much to you for that. Right before I broke things off with my fiance I was reading through my journal that I started in one of your classes. Even though deep down I knew it, I was miserable, and reading my thoughts was mindblowing. So today I write, and I write, and I write. Maybe I don't have the "ideal" anymore and people look at me like I am crazy when I tell them where life has taken me. But, I am more content than ever and ready to face this "ideal-centered" world head on. THANK YOU!!! You deserve every ounce of success that comes your way! -"An Ashley"

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a high school student in Dallas-I've read your site since the Dallas Morning News wrote an article about you.
I'm editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper-I've wanted to be a writer since 1st grade. Your biting sarcasm-witty comments-gentle criticism makes me laugh out loud and think the same time.
I've read what you wrote about SMU (a school I'm very familiar with, as it's probably 15 minutes from my house)and thought about what I wanted in a college-I read what you said about college students and smiled when it reminded me very much of the dynamics at my own largely rich prince/princess school.
Your writing amazes me-your insight amuses me.
Thank you so much-please never stop writing.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous andrea said...

I said years ago that I did NOT want to be defined by my job. So I was a bit surprised the other day when I realized that it will take 8 more years at my current level of pay to make what I made at Arthur Andersen right after graduation.

But I had shallow Ashley and Brad coworkers at Arthur Andersen, not 18 year old geniuses who speak six languages or sweet-looking ladies who can put jerks in their place without stooping to profanity. I felt like I was putting money in other peoples' pockets instead of doing something decent for the world there. And I certainly didn't have poof chairs or a flexible schedule. It's not about money; I can pay the bills, and I get pretty decent health insurance, but the best part is that I don't dread going to work and having to act fake all day.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Nancy said...

I went to school with several "Ashleys" or Ashley-like young ladies, and this was in the '80's. Sigh. I was in one sociology summer class about the "Problems of Poverty". After lengthy readings, discussions and even some personal stories from some of the students (including me), one young lady obviously hadn't gotten the gist of the message. On the last day of the class she plaintively expressed her confusion (while wearing jade and gold jewlry worth more than the car I was driving). "I don't GET it!", she said. "What's so bad about being poor?"

The Vietnam vet sitting next to me and the scholarship student sitting across from me and the young man working two jobs while carrying a full load and I just looked at each other and groaned.

The prof wasn't too impressed either. I hope he gave her at least a C, just for that one remark.

8:11 PM  
Anonymous Sean the Monkeyman said...

Hey, 'Laine:

T-shirts?!!! Load me up! We've got to have mojitos and get caught up soon. If you'll brave the suburban wasteland, we'll make the drinks. - Sean and Cindy

8:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to write a book some day. Probably never happen, but your blog is one of the ones I read for inspiration.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Gene said...

you may find this Village Voice article relevant: Undercover Mother : Back to school: A professor spends a year as an undergrad to study college life

11:23 PM  
Blogger PCS said...

This is one of the best blogs I have ever read. I'm a big fan and love your writing. Please keep it up.

9:38 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

Here is a quick mention of an 'Ashley' in an online comic I read. thought the group here might find is somewhat humorous.

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

I would LOVE a T-shirt!! Please keep us posted.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

do you know when the book'll be out? i can't wait...
p.s: t-shirts sound great...make them cute though, k? (I know u will)

6:16 PM  
Blogger LoupGarou said...

Hello Prof,

Would happily wear a Phantom Prof Shirt to class in U. Lee! Drop me an email letting me know the pick-up time!

Jenny G

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Dolores H. said...

What I love most about your writing is that not only does it provide some biting truths about certain kinds of people, but it also provides some insight as to why things are the way they are. It's not just a blog where a professor gets her kicks from poking fun at memorable students. People need to realize that truth can hurt, but it's most often the best medicine for what ails you.

Money can be nice to have, but it's not the only thing that's worth living for. Well said. I'd be honored to sport a "Phantom Professor" t-shirt to my 8AM classes (or anywhere, for that matter) at SMU this fall.

2:41 AM  
Blogger Lee said...

I am sure that I would love to be the Lee that is going to pick you up. I am pretty sure that I am not the droid you are looking for ;)

1:04 PM  
Blogger Jess said...

Bravo as usual...I can't wait until the book comes out. I hope you sign my copy. :)

1:35 PM  
Blogger Chad said...

Today, I was helping my boss with a writing assignment, which included some Spanish. He asked me if I spoke Spanish or had someone helped me. I told him that I speak Spanish (at least, enough to do that assignment.) He asked what I was doing in my line of work, why wasn't I off somewhere with my own company making the big bucks?

I just smiled and said that I love my job.

Sure, it's boring at times. It's tedious and constantly changing. Occassionally, people try to kill me. Still, I wouldn't change anything.

I could go work for a firm, or start my own, and make six figures. But I just wouldn't be happy.

At the end of the day, I go home to my wife and my two dogs. Paradise is a little brick house that looks just like every other house on the street. Call it a McShack, not a McMansion. I'm still happy.

9:23 PM  
Anonymous Keith said...

What you said about money hits the nail on the head. I'm a police officer, it's not the money that I make which makes my job worthwhile. It's the love of the job.

11:46 PM  
Anonymous SuperHolmie said...

I will buy a dozen of your t-shirts and wear them with excessive zeal.

You RULE. I cannot wait to read your book.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous The Preacher said...

The life of an adjunct is hard and often unappreciated. But the people who are hired as tenure-track faculty have it as rough and honestly with little more financial gain. Great article in Tuesday's USA Today about the pressure of production, tenure pursuit, and students and parents who have adopted "the customer is right" attitude.

I have experienced the personal pain, damage to career/reputation, that the pen of the Phantom Prof can have in one of her subject's lives. Yet despite some very hurtful things she has said about me, I wish her well and pray that this forum, the attention it has gained for her and her future endeavors provides all that she desires.

And while there are no book deals (outside of University presses), tv shows, email blog comments that tell us how much we are appreciated or t-shirts of support worn with zeal (--I still think teaching students is the best game in town...Because you are right life is not about a paycheck or even is always about leaving people and the world better off because of your presence.

Elaine take care of yourself.

4:03 PM  
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2:05 AM  

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