The Academic Job Cover Letter I Wanted to Write

.. and now I did ...

January 22, 2014

... i began writing in the shower -

the office where I hold 10-minute appointments with myself


Naked, sudsy, staring into tiles of green and white,

"I will rock your socks off,"

hot redness flooding the most tender of my skin - my belly, boobs, and butt,

"I am the bomb,"

toothbrush swishing freshness in my mouth, foaming silence,

"My strengths are beyond (your) language."


I've learned to speak it, though, and speak it well:

a mastery demonstrated by lines on my CV,

I, a scholar on the threshold of the industry:

6 publications in esteemed scholarly journals,

a growing list of numerous presentations at competitive academic conferences,

2 books in the making,

several awards,

and even grants

I've seen and edited many CVs,

I know I've done more than many others,

less than a few

in the context of the discipline, at least


... a record and a promise ...

that is something many of us

standing on the thresholds



But it's the me

standing in the shower

that will rock your socks off


and it's in the lines

that are not on my CV

where I am the bomb


For I don't speak your language

in the classroom

and it is there

where standpoint theory is lived and lives with no definition,

where no classifications of



and privilege

are stronger than

"my future's in my pee,"

as one student citing another states

when she recalls finding out she was about to be a mother

at 18

becoming a stereotype, as she says

and I don't study her

(we talk, instead, mother-to-mother, different as we are)

she - the perfect subject

of the industry that thrives on the lives of others

standing on thresholds


and single


of a son, age 5,

community college student

working in a call center

Latina who speaks no Spanish

who lives in a town with crime rates 3 times higher than the national average

who knows what "co-parenting" means

and states though she is single,

her son shall not grow up in a "single parent household" -

the single father of her son agrees

So, yeah, we can and do speak that language,

but also "my future's in my pee"


And it's not the number of classes that I've "taught"

and the 4.5s and higher on evaluations,

it's not even that I've grown from "professing" mutual learning to really learning from students -

No! I will rock your socks off because

#occupySU #ДАНСwithme #оставка

because home comes with me

because we live politics in the classroom

and that hurts, and stings, and makes students say

"I never thought I would be doing so much thinking in an introductory class,

or be allowed, encouraged even, to bring in

the future that was in my pee"


The me standing in the shower and on the threshold

chooses "pee" over/as "epistemology"

it is that me that continues all of the above

and also:

birthed a child,

can't wait to have another,

writes lullabies and poems

for an audience of one

that no academic aula will match,

cooks daily,

cleans on her knees,

survived 4 years of undergraduate education on

the nutrition of free doughnut holes from Hornbacher's in Moorhead, MN

(and still don't feel comfortable calling that "poverty"),

is now a home-owner

a wife

who hasn't always been the most supportive of her husband,

especially not while writing through the two major DIY renovations of our little house

who hasn't always gotten the utmost of his support,

especially not when waxing over and over about

structural inequality.

That I am also a daughter and a sister

who hasn't been standing next to her family when they've most needed her

who's been standing in the shower, instead, an ocean away

And I am also the daughter, and wife, and mother

who's been next to them at other times of both need and prosperity

getting dirty, stinky, forgetting showers

That I am a foreigner and a reluctant patriot

whose heart aches

in the midst of privilege and security

whose mind wanders

in the midst of dissertation concentration

to Bulgaria

and my simultaneous shame, and pride, and fear

to be the one

who can rock your socks off

and is still not doing it.


I am punctual, 10 minutes - done!

Clean and cleansed,

I step out showered:

brilliant for striving and struggling to live a daily life of care for others

a scholar writing care as communication

a teacher motivating care,

for, though sometimes frustrated, not one of us leaves the classroom disconnected.


The neat 6-7-paragraph structure of a cover letter

cannot contain this showered brilliance

and now, I over-wrote the 2-page limit.


Lily Herakova is a native of Bulgaria, currently living with her husband and son in South Hadley, MA. She is completing a PhD in Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches at Western New England University and Holyoke Community College.  Bringing together her passions and interests in  community building, critical pedagogy, and baking, she co-founded the Pioneer Valley Bread House, part of the Global Bread Houses Network, where bread-baking becomes the occasion and vehicle for social dialogue and learning.



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