At the height of it, here was my bicoastal adjuncting schedule.
2012–2014 Los Angeles/New York: Mondays through Wednesdays in LA teaching at USC and Art Center, Thursdays through Sundays in NY at SVA every 3–4 weeks.
How it worked:
Wednesdays: Taught at USC 10-1pm, headed home to grab suitcase and lounge for an hour, caught the 4:20pm on Delta LAX to JFK (4:20 a lucky number in my book although I don’t smoke anymore), arrived at midnight and cabbed to Brooklyn, hit Sadie’s, Jennifer’s, or Annette’s place to be in pajamas on the couch bed or air mattress by 1am. Bottle of red wine shared amongst girlfriends, lights out by 2am.
Thursdays: Alarm set for 10am, coffee & showered, arrive to SVA at noon for 2 thesis meetings at 12:30 and 1:30. Lunch break at Hale & Hearty soup around the corner, back to teach the 3-6:30 class. Dinner dates, parties, sleep way in on Friday. Friday and Saturday nights were in New York; caught 9am Sunday flights back to LA to buy an afternoon and night home before teaching Mondays and Wednesdays at USC.
To manage it: I left my suitcase packed with the same three New York outfits for each trip—wrinkle-free and color-coordinated to avoid having to match stuff. That said, I’m not an all-black clothing person like so many efficient business-savvy New Yorkers and since I was teaching “Language of Color” for a spell—at its core a color theory-based creative writing class—I felt compelled to diversify hues in every outfit. Light blue blazer, turquoise blazer, and black blazer; highly patterned and colorful collared shirts; black jeans and patterned long skirts; vintage St. Laurent jacket; two pairs of leather boots including camel brown ankle boots vintage from Berlin and calf-high maroon vintage Italian leather purchased six years ago and resoled every fall since. Very picky about leather boots. Turquoise and silver Navajo & Tibetan jewelry (my shopping weaknesses) to dress it all up.
I read thesis papers & prepped for class on the plane to New York, and I did no schoolwork on the plane back to LA. The LA plane was my time off, I treated myself to the opulence of not-reading, sometimes red wine and Xanax. Xanax is currency to me; I take it rarely, one tab as a reward for arduous work, feel I’ve earned a little brain-dead time after an intellectually rigorous trip. Not always, but after something major. Let it be stated that I’m so averse to taking pills that my doctor has literally begged me to take prescriptions for Xanax in the past; especially in since my red-eye schedules have ramped up, I’ve had to resort to half a tablet to sleep on planes.
I got extremely burnt out on spending time in Delta terminals, ate too many packs of Skittles at the magazine stands. With the frequent flyer credit card I got every fourth flight free. As previously mentioned, I did not get travel expense budgets or apartments from SVA but did write the trips off. I earned just enough to cover all the traveling and pay myself $300 per NY class, which was the same as my teaching fee as in LA. So, with the deductions and good grace of my girlfriends who never charged me to crash with them—I owe them each thousands in rent—I essentially got to spend five days per month in NY without losing any money, which I felt was a pretty sweet deal. Like I said, after my two teaching days were done, I had weekends free and a little cash in my pocket so I’ve had some real good slumber parties and nights on the town. My girlfriends are my family, seeing them is essential to my survival, really; there’s that stupid HBO show Girls now where young women take on the city… Well, imagine how much radder it is when the women are in their 40-60s, super smart and interesting, have amazing histories, careers, and endlessly inquisitive artistic minds. I love my girlfriends! Beyond my own narcissistic goal in life to be the best artist I can be, is my goal to participate in culture, surround myself by company in kindness, fun, and talent. Every day I think of my friends and how awesome they are. At 40, I love the creative boost a quality slumber party can give me even more than I did as a teenager steeped in Friday night sleeping bag bonanzas.
Ironically, I also relished this schedule in part to meet a partner. I thought living between two urban centers would increase my chances. In actuality, my insane schedule prevented me from having any deep, long-term relationship in a single location. I had lots of great dates. But when I did finally fall in love with my new partner, and as a musician he traveled more widely and often than me, we quickly realized that we needed to plant ourselves in one place in order to build a relationship. Thus the adjunct commuting has come to an abrupt halt. I signed off, bought some furniture, and settled into domestic life a little bit. Still, I get antsy and travel a few times a month for work—as of writing this, I’ve been on a plane every other week for the past two months, and I have a suitcase upstairs that remains packed.