In 2012 I lost my job as an adjunct university lecturer. It sucked. I’m a great teacher, and a hard worker. I’d even bought a book, when I first started teaching, to show me how to dress in a gender-conforming manner. I used it as my bible: I owned matching handbags and heels of a professionally appropriate height for each specific occasion and season (yes, I also can’t believe I didn’t realize until this year that I am autistic).
I genuinely didn’t see the end coming. I’d been in the job eight years, although constantly teetering on the knife edge of uncertainty, praying every semester that a permanant staff member would retire so I could apply for a real job. As an adjunct you are never guaranteed another year’s contract. Summers are lean, to be survived on savings, although I could usually pick up a temp gig at a call centre to tide me over to the new academic year.
The day I found out I wouldn’t be receiving a new contract I had to visit one of my graduate students who was holding an exhibition for her Masters. She excitedly told me she had been hired as an adjunct lecturer. In the programme I’d just been let go from. She was fifteen years younger than me, pretty, thin, sociable. Of course she had. I managed to hold it together enough to get back to my car, and then I uglycried. Howling happened. There was snot, and dribbling. Because my heart had cracked open.
An ex-colleague recommended me for a research post at another university. I’m still there. I don’t teach now, I write reports for a living; riveting page-turners on factor weightings, data sphericity, and Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin sampling adequacies. I earn more money. I work fewer hours. I get paid holidays.
I’m thankful every damn day.
In 2013, because the life wasn’t being sucked out of me by staying up till 3am to finish PowerPoints and grade papers, I figured I had the energy to try writing some tentacle porn. That was Kraken. I’m thankful people downloaded it from Smashwords. I’m thankful they read it. I’m thankful they reviewed it.
I’m thankful I found the words inside me for a couple more books. I’m thankful Lisa Henry said, “I would love to co-write something with you!” I’m incredibly thankful I have friends I can email when I feel like crap and they’ll email me back and give me hugs and kind words and let me share their day. And also send me links to tentacle bed linen and shower drains.
I’m thankful I live in a safe country, in a beautiful city, with a mortgage that doesn’t cripple me.
I am thankful I lost my job in 2012, and I’m even thankful I sat in that car wishing I could die because at least the pain would stop. Because I learnt that hurt does eventually heal, and that I was over-invested in my job. In getting external approval. I’m still working on that one.
I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason. But I do believe that humans evolved to seek patterns in the chaos, and that, given time, and other humans to support us, we can construct meaning from whatever happens in our lives.
I have a life that holds meaning for me, and I’m thankful for it.
I can’t wait to see what else I have to be thankful for next year.