Coffee heat rising

w00t! Money about to happen?

So I’m sitting here sweltering through a crush of semester-end stoont papers when what should pop up in the e-mail but a last-minute call for someone to teach a humanities course in the first summer session at a different campus in the community college district. Money happens!

Now at last, folks, we’re talkin’ fair wage: a summer session runs for five weeks; $2,400 for a month and a week of light work comes under the heading of decent pay. Although my Ph.D. is in English, not humanities per se,  my undergraduate degree is in French language and literature. “Humanities” is a vague term that used to mean “classics” but now means almost nothing—as a practical matter, colleges will hire people with almost any degree in the liberal arts to teach these courses. And the beauty of these courses is that assessment can be largely through online tests. Naturally, one would like to assign a term paper or a couple of shorter papers, but they don’t have to be parsed for mechanics and style. People grade these things on the basis of whether the student seems to have responded to the assignment and done the reading, rather than for the student’s writing skill.

Piece. of. cake.

It would push me over the Social Security earnings limit by about $350. More than that, really, because I’ll have to take a “salary” from the S-corporation in December. However, it could be worth it: barring another market crash, I’ll have enough cash to weather a month without the Social Security payment (loss of which is one of the consequences of exceeding the limit).

More to the point, we don’t know that either of the two courses I’m lined up to teach in the fall will make. They’re set up as two eight-week sessions, back-to-back, English 101 first followed by an online feature-writing course. The idea that a freshman comp student will sign up to sit through two three-hour sessions a week verges on the preposterous. And the feature-writing course will follow a nearly identical in-class section a colleague will teach in the first half of the semester.

BTW, if anyone would like to sign up for that feature-writing class (it’s billed as “magazine writing”), it’s 100 percent online, and there’s no out-of-state tuition for online courses. If you’re a blogger, I probably would accept posts that fit the parameters of the assignments—these will include things like a profile, a straight report, an opinion piece, a brite, a how-to, a round-up, or whatever else I can dream up. The course is English 235, Magazine Article Writing; it runs from 10/18 to 12/10/2010. You can register online; from what I can tell, you need to start by getting admitted through this site. There’s a phone number: 602-787-7020.

Anyway, back on topic: I’m less than thrilled at the prospect of working away half the first real summer break I’ve had in 20 years. On the other hand, trying to get through the summer on less than half the income I’ve had this semester is a little scary, plus next fall’s semester will pay $2,400 less than I’ve been earning. The hot season pushes utility and water bills through the roof, and that coincides perfectly with the switch to Medicare, which also will elevate my health coverage bills significantly.

I’m thinking it may be worth having a month’s worth of Social Security taxed at 50%. From what I’m told, the minute the IRS finds out you’re going to exceed the annual earnings limit, they withhold an entire month’s SS benefit. From that they subtract the amount they figure you owe in the tax rip-off—but you don’t get the remainder of the money back until the following January! So the punishment for exceeding the earnings limit is effectively the loss of a full month’s SS income. That’s pretty hefty, when it represents half your net income.

But it may be worth it, to be sure there’s enough to live on over the summer. Maybe.