To be filed under “news of the new year,” I am teaching again at Temple University’s Japan (TUJ) campus. Writing at teaching writing are my passions; they’re the two things that get my blood flowing and can bring me to a boil in seconds. My husband likes to quote from the movie “The Flamingo Kid” when he says, “In life, there are things that you like doing and there are things that you’re good at. If God is smiling at you, they’re the same thing.” Well, God is definitely smiling on me with this one since I often cannot believe someone pays me to do this work that I love, and I get pretty good reviews on it, too.
The road to get to my first class this week was a pretty tough one. I’m the last adjunct hired in the first-year writing department at TUJ so if a class is going to be canceled due to low enrollment, it’s going to be mine. I wasn’t able to confirm that my class was running until the night before it was supposed to begin. Luckily, because of department regulation, I had to write syllabi and plan classes well before the deadline, so I was ready when it started. I suppose it all could have been for naught if both of my classes had been canceled (only one was canceled), but I am lucky that one is running. Class planning is never useless though; flexing that academic muscle is good for the brain.
Professors at TUJ do something that no professor would consider in the U.S.: they sit in cubicles, bull-pen style. There’s no privacy and no privilege that comes with walls and a door. It’s a very Japanese approach to work, as most offices function this way in the country. It’s just not something we’re accustomed to as Westerners. Since coming back to work at TUJ last year, I’ve never had my own cubicle, though. I either teach on Mon/Wed/Fri or Tues/Thurs and they assign met to a desk that I share with a person teaching the opposite days. This term, for whatever reason, however, I got my own desk. I don’t know if someone felt badly that both of my classes didn’t fill or about the late run-notice or something else, but it doesn’t matter. The point is that I have my own desk.
The desk is nothing special, nor is the chair. There is a good, usable computer on the desktop with a wireless printer attached. It is light, and near a window. It’s at the back of the big room and ensures a small measure of privacy.
Best of all, it’s mine for the semester. I can work here whenever I like, no matter if it’s a teaching day or not. I can come here and write instead of feeling distracted at home. I can come to school and be inspired by students and other professors as I go through my projects and make progress. I will be able to get out of the house and see other people every day if I want to when I go use my desk and computer at school.
I have a number of projects and ideas in the hopper, and I can hardly wait to get started. It all begins with a desk. A desk with endless possibilities.
How do you find your muse? Can an inanimate object help you?