Monday, October 20, 2014

I hate my life. My Week? Life? Sleep.

Hooorarghflaglfhooh. Getting ready to completely revamp my intro course to a series of one-on-one student conferences and a portfolio grading system this week. But I'm not cancelling class time; that's bullshit. It says 72 contact hours in the course outline and goddammit kids, that is what you are going to have to put in. But I might end up eating one or more of my students, or colleagues, by the end of the week, with all that face-to-face time. And I still have 12 more essays to grade tonight. Gak.

I'll talk about the faculty observation I underwent later, when I feel up to it. Ditto the "friendly lunch with a colleague" I just underwent. Not happy. Sounded like a threat. No clue how to interpret it or what specifically I would need to change. I wonder when I will find time and energy to look at job listings?

Thursday, October 16, 2014


I don't know, people. I just don't know.

I am ... feeling some pressures I don't like here. I am not used to being constantly evaluated and monitored in my teaching like I am here, true, but I also feel I am getting a lot of pressures to have happy passing students, in a way that I think is affecting the actual rigor of these as college classes. And I don't like it.

Sure, Postdoc U went way too far over into the not-supporting-students side, and didn't do it well. But after painstakingly simplifying and clarifying and breaking everything down into steps last year, I still got a fair amount of pushback into the direction of actually dumbing things down. And after being observed in the new simplified, cut back version, the response was that this was too hard for the students and I should be dumbing it down even further. Ehhhh. No. I don't like that. And I am already on the fence about whether the students I *have* passed could actually hack it in a four-year college classroom at our state systems. If they can't do it without me basically doing it all for them, how will they hack it when they get to upper-division courses in their four-year majors?

I get to teach a developmental writing class next semester and fellow instructors have helpfully let me look at their books. Some of them are ok and I think I am deciding between a couple. One is this massive brick of a workbook that just made me want to cry when I flipped through it. It does and has absolutely everything the learning support people claim helps students succeed, but there is almost no writing and no variety in vocabulary. In bullet points, it tells the reader that this is a book, and what a page is. It breaks concepts down to a point that just makes me want to cry. No wonder people from that dev class can't pass my freshman comp class on the first try. They don't read anything longer than a paragraph and they fill in bubbles and blank spots for verbs.

And in response to student complaints they switched around my classes, took the special thing off my hands for this year (which, right now while buried in grading, I appreciate) and made me go through the mentoring process a second year. Theoretically I like that. Practically, I have a mentor whose teaching style is so different from mine that the advice I get doesn't really seem to help. And since the only tips the mentor has to offer are from this very different toolbox, I keep getting the same suggestions, diametrically opposed to my style, and constant nudges and questions about how have I changed up my syllabus and classroom teaching practices to use this totally different system yet. I'm also really inflexible in my scheduling, and work out the whole syllabus and schedule and even the assignment sheets and handouts all in a big blast before the semester starts so that I can focus on classroom management and grading, which alone is eating me alive this semester. I don't want to scrap and re-do stuff in the middle of the semester. My back is up, my heels are digging in.

I am not only tired, and grumpy, and taking it out on my students, and confused, but I feel like I am compromising my integrity.

So I don't like it. I don't want to do it. But I opened up the job lists and started looking.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Embarrassing financial related post

Last week --- or was it really already two weeks ago? Dang, time is getting away from me here --- I did my laundry. And like a stupid person, I decided I should separate out and hand wash all my bras like they tell you to, to save the underwires. And instead of taking them back to the apartment with me, I must have left them there, in our complex's laundry room --- and when I went back for them they were gone. 

Arrrgh argh.  I have been trying to make do with what I had on, which was back, and thus really tough to figure out my work wardrobe. So today I bit the bullet and went to Macy's for their sale and got a bunch of bras. Except I had to try at least three ranges of sizes and got up to the checkout and discovered that none of those bras were on sale. Fuckit then. I got them anyway. But talk about annoying expenditures --- the lost bras were only a few months old!!! And these are for work, so no one *should* see them and they are supposed to be boring. Stupid money. I have a lot of wearing out clothes that I should replace instead, so it is all very frustrating. 

So, still no closer to having a house payment or a kayak/rack payment. 

Remind me to never let these bras out of my bedroom unless they are on my body, ok? 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The problem with a cold

Is that it takes up all your energy on a 4-4. The problem with a cold, and NyQuil, and a ridiculously early class, is that you end up swimming through the days, not even sure of when or where you are. Working out and going places/walking, even taking the time to put on jewelry or makeup before teaching have all gone by the wayside. 

Luckily I am coming out of it and finally feeling better ... Just in time to get more papers. Sigh. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brain Fog

The problem with super early classes is that going to bed early doesn't necessarily help me get enough sleep --- I can just toss and turn until it is closer to a "normal" bedtime --- and then when the alarm goes off I am exhausted and in deep in the middle of my sleep cycle.

Sidebar: I don't know if you have been reading up on all those fit tracker things and how monitoring and recording your own sleep cycles is now A Thing, because it is better to wake up at one of the points where you are already very close to being awake rather than in deep sleep, but I can't ever hear about one's sleep cycle without visualizing it as the equivalent of the spin cycle on a washing machine. Does your brain whirr softly in circles until you lift the lid? Is there a little green light somewhere that lights when you move from the spin cycle to second rinse? Do I feel foggy because I wake up with my brain still covered in suds? Maybe it's best I don't know.

Anyway, right now I am in a state where I get home and need to immediately eat my body weight in snack-dinner (also known as sninner) even though it is only about 3 pm, and then collapse on the couch in a weird, ugly fog-state where I am too tired to keep my eyes open but not tired enough to fall into a nap. And of course, grading homework sucks at the best of times, so there is no way I want to do that while feeling yucky and mostly asleep. This is all exacerbated by the fact that late evening is always a pretty alert point in my circadian rhythm (no clue where that is on the sleep/wash cycle) and if I go back to grade or prepare or, god forbid, check my email at this point, I will be roused into a state it is almost impossible to wind down from in time to go to bed ... and if I have managed to sleep at 3, I'm not tired enough to go to bed and sleep anyway.

And ironically, this makes me hate weekends and holidays, like the one we just had, because sheer exhaustion can eventually re-set me to the new schedule by the end of the week, but then it all pops back again --- sproing! --- if I don't have some absolutely imperative reason for getting out of bed over the weekend. And we're talking 5:30 or 6 here, so there is pretty much no imperative reason on the weekend short of an alien attack.

We're also actually doing all our department and division meetings this year (previous chair stepped down suddenly because of illness so last year was an oddly-meeting-free year) and I get to do committee work and other project type things this year while pretending I know what I'm doing, which entails late-afternoon meetings. Everyone has been very good about keeping things to a fairly decent length and getting us out at 5 (despite all sorts of crazy budget crap we need to deal with and other crises), which is great for everyone who needs to get home and feed kids, but I am suffering, teaching all early morning classes and then slogging about trying to stay conscious for a 3:30 or 4 pm meeting! And last year our last big combined meeting was around Halloween and they gave us candy. I think we need candy at every meeting, stapled to the agendas they hand out. And a coffee bar. That reminds me: one of my projects is to get a taco truck on campus near our building.

You think I'm kidding.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Money Game --- No-Spend September Challenge

I'm going to play a little game with myself this month, because I went ahead and decorated my office yay!!!! Now it is shiny and beautiful. Too bad I bought lots of expensive things on the first. 

Hence my challenge as a way to get back to my goal of paying off those credit cards: how long can I go without spending any money* this month? Could I make it the whole way? I keep waffling on my food, which brings up the good point that I have a lot of food around here but I like to think that because I am out of one thing, I "have nothing to eat." I could work on my planning and my using up things and on not wasting food. And even though I just broke my sandals, I have a bazillion other shoes and am just fine not getting any more this month. I have 2 3rds a tank of gas. The cats are all stocked up. How far will I get?

Uh oh. How much Diet Coke do I have? This might get ugly.

* I'm not counting rent and my regular bills, student loan, credit card payment.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Your poem is ajar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
--- What hill? The hill
where Fragonard hung
a slovenly wilderness. 
The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around --- but
why a jar? --- Aigh! As if that answered
anything. --- Ah, yes. The jar was round
upon the ground and of a port in air.
It took dominion every where,
and was gray and --- but why a jar?
It did not give of bird or bush ---
Which jar?
Aigh, Dominion maybe. How
should I know?
What hill? What jar?
It did not give of bird
or bush --- but why a jar?
I said a hill in Tennessee.

* at last I have figured out that what I want to say when I talk about this poem is actually in reference to this poem. Clearly they needed to be stirred together.