Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Interstices

I have troubles with the interstices. First of all, there's simply the effort of pronouncing them: does anyone else stumble repeatedly over the word "interstices," to the point where you try to reword the sentence so you can use the word "interstitial"? There's something odd about the emphasis.

Secondly, I don't know if my whole life is disappearing down the cracks, but entire days sure are. I have a weird schedule --- not back to back, but with gaps that are too big to just review some notes and walk to the next class, but too small to really get anything done in. I spend a lot of my alert part of the day sitting and staring at nothing, only to be too tired to do much in the evenings when I get home.

I've been trying to shuffle paper, and since I have so much more paper to shuffle with all these classes, that's something. I can keep up on my attendance and checking off all their little in-class writing assignments, but I can't really grade. It's hard to do anything that will really take concentration or getting into a groove, since I always have to have part of my mind on what time it is and when my next class will be (and why the hell do classes not start on the hour or a normal time here? I have one that starts at :23. WTF?!?!?).

With my biggest gap I can make it through grading half an essay --- but then finding where I put said essay, where I left off, and what grade I thought the first half deserved ends up taking more time than if I had just left it until later and jumped in to do the whole pile.

I also have the problem of either wolfing down lunch way too early and without really enough time to chew, or suffer in another class while waiting for my later break. (If I was smart I'd have a teeny snack for the first break since the other break is longer, but I went looking for those mini-cheeses and couldn't find any at the grocery store. I'll get a system set up properly, eventually.)

I guess I could be shuffling the roll cards to learn students' names, since I haven't gotten that down yet ---- but the gaps are a bit long to do that without it seeming weird and boring. Oh yeah ---- I forgot, that only works to an extent, bc there are a bunch of names that I can't place faces to very well, so staring at the roll list doesn't do much when I actually call it. I should make a few notes so that I can remember at least which hair color all my Brittanys and Jennifers have, which might help.

Sometimes prepping works, but not any time I need to read an assignment first, as again that requires more concentration than I can give. I was running about on campus finding places and doing all sorts of errands, but those have decreased a bit since it's not the beginning of the year. Copying, too, is one of those things I can get done, but don't need to do every day. Eh.

And just reading the paper or facebook or playing scrabble ... I don't know ... I feel so guilty when I do it. Especially if I'm in my office hours ---- and my chosen corner in the lab room actually has me with the my back to the door, so students would be walking up to see me slacking off on facebook, as does anyone else who goes by the room. Hence my emphasis on seeming busy even if it's just paper-pushing.

Oh, and what I would do for the ability to put my head down for a quick nap! Even if I could relax enough to nod off, that would just be terrible when I had to wake up suddenly and look presentable and mentally alert. Or not wake up, which would be just the depths of embarrassment ---- "I overslept for class today." "---Oh, was that your early morning class?" "---no, it was the one around noon. I made it to the first one just fine." Heh.

Hmph. I can't solve it. It's like my to-do list sits there and looks at me, taunting me with endless piles of things that just don't really fit in the free time I have, and nothing to do in the little gaps I have. Maybe I should just bring something to knit.


Feminist Avatar said...

You could read a book- even a research related book so it feels like [? is] work.

And, if your students see you, they might even learn a new skill!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I'm with Fem Avatar - read a book! Or maybe work a little bit on revising your job letter? I think the book sounds like more fun, though. :)

Dr. Koshary said...

You'll figure out your scheduling system soon enough, no doubt. Don't feel (excessively) guilty about putzing around on Facebook or whatnot for a few minutes in between obligations; it's only when that stuff really overwhelms your unscheduled time that it becomes a problem.

Also, I know what you mean about interstices, although it never gives me too much trouble. For some reason, the phrase that I have to say slowly and carefully to avoid tripping over my own tongue is cross-referencing. The 's' sound tends to get metamorphosed into an 'f' when I say it, somehow.

Lucky Jane said...

As for pronouncing "interstices," I cheat by slightly stressing the second syllable. My specialization requires that I use this word a little more frequently than most people, yet no one has called me out on my pronunciation.

As for what to do with little pockets of waiting. Can you give yourself small writing tasks? That question sounds absurd, but one of my mentors taught me to tackle small writing tasks (e.g., sketching out a paragraph in bullet points) while waiting in line. Because you know you have a limited span of time, you're pressured to think (as if you were giving yourself a quiz); at the same time, you know you don't have much time, so you don't feel guilty about not having some polished, fully formed product.