Saturday, June 28, 2008

Odds and Ends

Dissertation Buddy has gone! She is overseas doing her research and writing and seeing if she will get back together with Long-Distance Significant Other. I am a bit sad with her not around.

When she cleaned out and unplugged the fridge at her apartment, she gifted everything in it to me, which means that my fridge is now crammed chock-full of strange bits of food that don't quite go together. As in, I have two bottles of capers, three or four baggies of herbs, two eggs, and some butt ends of carrots and a few other slightly-wrinkly vegetables. Now I actually have all the fresh herbs that I never happen to have around for my recipes, and no food to cook them with. Or room to put more veggies in the fridge, either. Oh, and cheese. More cheese than I should be eating, since I already had quite a stash of my own.

I made it through the first week of class fine ---- I've got people talking, which is great, and now I want to get them talking more to each other, whereas right now everyone looks at me and I tend to speak after each of their comments, which is not really an organic conversation. There's a big wide range of abilities here again, I think; Mr. Eye-roller is clearly smart and knows how to talk about literature as literature and thinks my class is too baby-level, but I have plenty of other people who don't know how to read for detail at all. (Side question: when you teach people to read for significance, how do you teach them what's significant? I just see it, which makes it hard to teach --- it's probably something you pick up through lots of reading and get familiar with the codes intuitively.)

I also had the weird situation where I think all my majors dropped the class, as did several of the upperclass-people. (I was going to write "upperclassmen" but that just bugs.) I was miffed. I was even miffed when I gave my "be worried about taking 4 intense courses on a short schedule even though they give you a discount" speech and then some people walked out shortly after. Crazy, I know. I should think of it as having fewer papers to grade and more room to really get a discussion going. Last quarter, when everyone who wasn't a freshman dropped the big lecture course in the first week or so, I totally understood ---- it was not challenging, not presented in an exciting way, and really not a college-level class. But I like to think that my stuff is more interesting and doesn't seem like a baby course! The problem is that to get the not-very-good students who don't know how to deal with literature to feel comfortable enough to talk, we do have to go down to a very bottom level of questions so they feel like they have something to say. Then I try to push upward from there. But I did have some disgruntled comments about it the last time I taught this class, saying it was "too high school." Bleah.

I've had the odd experience of doing roughly a 9 to 5 schedule this week, then coming home and cooking and puttering around a bit and even going out with friends ---- as if I had a normal, not an academic job. It felt strange, and yet kinda pleasant. I've been really getting into the crafty, fixer-upper stuff at home and it's nice ---- although I'm trying to not let that displace the dissertation. I have been getting decent little spurts in on the dissertation, which is good on the one hand, considering how exhausted and behind I was on my summer course last year, and yet bad on the other hand when you look at my timeline for completing the diss and all my other writing projects.

Part of me wants to go see some movies and do all sorts of summer fun things that this area is known for, and part of me is, even when I look calm and lazy, freaking out inside about the amount of stuff I need to do and thinking I shouldn't even be on the internet this morning while waiting for my tea to cool. Oh, that's another thing: I'm not bringing my laptop to school anymore. Instead, I'm bringing a flashdrive and hogging the gradlab computer all day. I think I get slightly more dissertation writing done with the laptop, but it is also much harder for me to check my bloglines and facebook and get sucked off into that distraction --- I wouldn't want to have my secret academic cog passwords and my list of blog-reading on the public computer (or get caught posting), and I actually forgot my facebook password (which is just saved on the laptop) so I don't want to re-learn it and then have the temptation. The other problem has been when I want to check 57 million of my old teaching files for a cool idea I once had, when I only have today's lesson plan on the flashdrive. But for keeping my back healthy and minimizing the distractions, I think it's good.

Speaking of distractions, I should go clean out that litterbox. Or, I could read more blogs!


thegrumpyacademic said...

Let me know when you finish chapter 5.

Sisyphus said...

Ok, but don't be holding your breath. You might keel over first.