One obvious conclusion from writing my last long series of posts is that I had a career maze more than a career path. Jobs seemed to come along when I needed them, and for a long time they didn’t seem to have much in common with one another. In fact, at one point, I cleaned apartments when tenants moved out of my apartment house. So it may come as some surprise that the job I took next lasted for 25 years. And it came to me disguised as a one year job.
A friend was having a baby, and she wanted to stay home with him for the first year of his life. Then she wanted to return to her job. My daughter was now one and while I was teaching two evenings a week near our home, I did have time to work more. So I told her I would be glad to cover for her for that one year.
She taught in Portland, a half hour from our home, at a college I had never heard of, The Museum Art School, part of the Portland Art Museum. She taught a course called Humanities which she had created herself. I was, she said, free to teach whatever I wanted as long as it was in the humanities and wasn’t art history. The college had an art historian. There was also a full time faculty member whose background was in anthropology. Naturally, since as we know I was already an English teacher despite my vow never to be one, I decided to focus on literature. Beyond that, I didn’t have much of a clue, so I spent the summer figuring out how to structure a year long class which met for two sections a week, each one for 75 minutes.
And in September, I drove into town and met my first students. First, though, I walked past another classroom, looked in and saw a naked woman standing on a platform. This was certainly not the community college. When they say “life drawing” in an art college, this is what they mean. My semester in this unusual environment had begun.