Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Epiphany and Resolution on Grading

I've been so grumbly and fierce lately, looking at everything including Tot and AL through a black cloud. (I had an annoying project hanging over my head along with laryngitis on top of the move.) But I've just finished an annoying project and I'm almost over this laryngitis and Tot is taking a nap, and it's time to recommit myself to being more positive.

So here's one thing I'm thinking about: as much as there is a lot about grading to hate, both theoretically and actually, the way I typically grade (waiting until the last possible minute and then grading in a huge black cloud huff) doesn't allow me to enjoy it. It's really not much of a possibility. I always read papers with the seeds of interesting conversations in them, conversations I would like to have and should broach with my students (especially considering who my students are and how little intellectual engagement is part of their everyday lives). (I'm not trying to bash my students here; I'm always surprised at how interesting my students are, considering everything. I teach at a specialized institution where only certain kinds of students apply/attend -- students who are not at all like me or who I was at their age. Moreover, they do not come to my uni to take my courses. In fact, my department doesn't have a major; we're purely a service department.) So when my students are up for interesting conversations, I should jump on it. I always put the paper aside and sigh that there's no time for that. Grade grade grade. And I always forget about the pedagogical opportunities of grading when I'm procrastinating digging into a big stack.

I want to enjoy my job more. In fact, I'm determined to. Procrastinating essential parts of my job that I don't like does not make me like my job more. I'm not sure how I'm going to do it -- especially since I tried contract grading, but this doesn't work with my procrastinating tendencies -- but I'm getting control of this grading issue. I am interested in what my students say. I do want to have these conversations. I do want to wade through their prose and help them fix it. I need to think of grading differently.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Quickie Update

Quickie, because I haven't been able to leave Tot alone -- or be left alone -- in days. We've moved from our apartment to a house. We're partly moved, that is. No dining table, no couch, no bed. We're sleeping on an air mattress and in our new two-person sleeping bag (bought for that camping we were going to do) that's surprisingly comfortable. This place is a tri-level, though, and maybe it's in the nature of the tri-level or just the layout of this house, but it's very difficult to keep tabs on Tot in here. So I'm constantly going up one flight or two flights to find out where he is. So I've been following him room to room (no gates yet, and it would be really difficult considering the design of the stairwells to put up traditional toddler gates) with my book the last few days. Ahh, here's Tot coming down a flight of stairs.

I just sent him back up to play with his cars. Is he too young to be playing without supervision, I wonder.

He just came down the stairs again. Oy.

He's had pinkeye for the last few days, which has meant really terrible antibiotics that are wreaking havoc on his g-i tract.

But what I wanted to say to you all is that the differences between our apartment and this house really makes me reflect on my relationships to nature and people. I'm even thinking of writing an essay about it, about how much I've loved communing with the ducks and geese and swans, especially this spring when they all had babies. Oh how I marveled at the swan tending her nest, then worried when I saw the nest was abandoned until I finally saw the four signets. The Canada geese parents (both) who spend their entire lives walking their babies around, sometimes in the creek, sometimes on its banks. The duck mama and her tiny babies all running down the bank to the creek at the same time. Now our backyard, which is big, gorgeous, and unfenced, looks out into other people's backyards. When I look out the front, it's worse: just houses up and down.

Here's what I'm trying to say: We have a lot more space -- inside and out -- but I feel more closed in.

I think part of this has to do with my dislike of subdivisions and how much this feels a bit too much like the place I grew up. Some of it is, perhaps, my discomfort about being "the mom" and therefore representative of the family, my discomfort about being observed at close range, being someone who has coffee with the neighbors and seems like she has it together. But some of it is my relationship with nature. I'm thinking since there will be no waterfowl in my backyard, I think I must go and seek out spaces where I'll get to hang out with the birds. Until then, I'm going to get very into vegetative life -- me with my nineteen potted plants now sunning themselves on the deck.

Must go now. Tot's been very patient.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grumble Grumble Grumble

It looks like Tot has pinkeye. Which means that all plans for the week, including grading and moving books into my office, getting together with a colleague for a good end-of-year grumble session complete with drinks, and, on Friday, moving stuff into the new house, all of which depended on daycare, are pretty much dashed. Grumble grumble grumble. And Tot woke up in the night and came into our bed, natch, so I'm so frigging exhausted. Family bed be damned, but I can't sleep with Tot stretching and turning and hogging the bed.

I wish I had some eternally patient single friend who would come over and hang out with me while I'm in pinkeye jail with Tot. Luckily, pinkeye has not stopped Tot from happily playing with his cars. That he's not completely miserable is the only saving grace of the whole thing. Instead, I'm the one who's miserable, realizing the serious limitations of coffee. I gave up the Coffee Corporation a while back, trying to save my stomach and money. Now I see the error of my ways.

It would be a whole lot easier to be blase about the whole disarrangement of a week's worth of plans if I had gotten enough sleep. Sigh.

I have to call Tot's daycare, my dental appointment, and his doctor for an appointment. Impossible feats, I tell you. So.frigging.tired.

Update 2:42 pm

Tot was nearly down for a nap when I jostled him too much and though he tried to go back to sleep, now he's up and driving me crazy (throwing rather than rolling his damn ball -- I can't believe that more people don't go insane with toddlers -- how many frigging times do I have to say that he can't throw it but only roll it, and I know he knows what I mean -- grrr).

And now the damn landlord of our new rental is driving me insane with hir antics and crap. I'm really beginning to think that this is the most ill-fated move ever for a variety of reasons. I'm beginning to hate everyone right now, except the sweet blogger-friends who've left me comments. (And, of course, at just this moment, Tot throws another damn ball. I'm just going to melt down, people. Just like the Wicked Witch of the West. Please. Throw water on me.)

Monday, June 13, 2011

RBOC: Will This Quarter Ever End Edition

Hi everyone. Things have not exactly calmed down over here -- in great part because the quarter isn't over but is getting there which means mounds of grading and grumbling -- but they are different, so that's good. Today I have so many things I should do that my brain boggles just thinking about the edges of it -- and I need to figure out which things I must do today versus the things that can wait, alas, for another day. (Some things have been on the "can't do today, but must do soon" list for so long it's ridiculous.) So I'm going to blog, partly because I just haven't blogged in forever, but also to figure out what I must do today versus what can wait. In the process, I hope to update y'all. I look forward to blogging again like a real person soon.

So here goes:
  • We're moving into a house by the end of the month. It's stretching us financially, because we had to cough up a huge security deposit, but we figure our quality of life will improve so much that it's worth it. I don't have to do anything on that front today; we're expecting the lease agreement but that's not urgent. We have not begun packing or anything. ETA: They sent the lease agreement. Some stupid ridiculous things that make no sense. Oy! Another thing to deal with.
  • Grade 12 portfolios. Yes, I need to grade. Must do today. ETA: Graded three. Oy gevalt.
  • I wanted to take my yoga class, but 1) I need to pay because my pass ran out and we don't have a lot of cash right now; and 2) I don't have a lot of time today, but will have time later in the week to focus on my headspace and health. It bothers me that when I'm busy the easiest thing to get rid of is the stuff that actually makes me more balanced, but today I think it just cannot be helped. No yoga today. Go later in the week, if the money's there. Otherwise, work out with Leisa Hart at home.
  • I have a therapy appointment in the afternoon. I don't really want to go, because I'm too busy to do navel-gazing, but I've cancelled so much lately I don't want to do that. So off I go to that. Do this today. ETA: This ended up going really well.
  • Tot has a water day at school tomorrow, so I have to 1) make sure his trunks still fit (why, oh why didn't I do this before I took him to school today?) and 2) I must buy him a beach towel. I don't know why I feel like I just cannot take his regular bath towel to school and forget this shopping expedition today, but I just can't. He deserves a darn beach towel from his parents who can more or less afford it and are just lazy and skeptical about many of the normal things that kids have. Check the trunks against other clothes he can wear, then go to get a beach towel and new trunks, if needed. ETA: Checked his not one, but two sets of swimming trunks (which is hilarious because we never, and I mean never, go swimming because I'm a big weenie about Tot and the swimming pool), and I'm just not sure that the larger won't be too tight. Must go and get swimming trunks on top of the beach towel. But where? The websites for what's in stock at my usual stores is pretty disheartening. Why is it that I don't think of doing this after I pick up Tot? Hmmm. Interesting possibilities there. ETA: Got trunks and beach towel at Kohl's after therapy.
  • I've got to remember to bring a check to Tot's school for his field trip this Friday that I have to go on too, right before I jet to a dental appointment, then back to campus to pick up all the last papers from my courses. Just write the check and be done. Done.
  • Tot has lost one of the little feet that cushions his nose on his glasses. I've got to get a replacement, which means I should call around and find out who has one. Have I mentioned I hate talking on the phone (in part because I have a "Smartphone" and it's one of the ones that has really high levels of radiation, which is bad health-wise). Yes, I bought a headset. It's okay. Call Tot's eyecare place because maybe the little foot will be free. ETA: I called, but apparently there are hundreds of nose pads and so they have to be brought in. Right now, they are on Tot's nose at daycare. The next day I can realistically bring in his glasses is Wednesday (considering that I teach all day tomorrow). Sigh.
  • I keep buying plants at the Farmer's Market. Yesterday, they had a booth that was all organic heirloom vegetables in little pots for $1 each. Okay, it's basically like they asked what would EE most want to see at the Farmer's Market. It was amazing for all the obvious reasons, but also because while our farmer's market has some organics, it's not as if every other booth is organic, by a long stretch. (Not even every other booth is food! There are lots of crafts too.) So anyway I have all these plants on the patio now, and they really need to be replanted into larger pots. I have to buy said pots. I do have organic potting soil that I bought especially. But no pots. It's getting a little ridiculous out there. I also need a decent watering can because going in and out of the house with a 2-cup pyrex measuring cup to water about 15 plants is just silly. But when will I be able to get to even buying the pots? I do not know. Don't ask me why I couldn't manage to get this done over the weekend. I think it had everything to do with the fact that I was reading a book this weekend. (Despite what my academic calendar says, my brain saw all the sun and the plants and everything and screamed "summer" and hasn't been the same since.) Buy a bunch of pots and a decent watering can wherever I get the beach towel. ETA: This will have to wait another day.
  • Since I finished my delicious mystery last night, I'm really dying to go and get another one today. At least, AL said I should go get it today. He must have no idea how long my list is already. I think this is going to have to wait. I could call and find out who has the next book, but I think I can't pick it up today.
  • Because Tot is making this transition to his toddler bed, which means he gets up every few hours, I was in bed getting a few needed Zs with him instead of getting up early, taking a shower, and drinking some coffee. Shower and coffee are both still on my to-do list. I'd love to take a nap too. Coffee and shower done. How silly it is that I have to put such things on my to-do list!
  • I have a student who wants to see me this afternoon. I think I basically need to say no because how can I get any of these things done and make it into the office this afternoon, however late. The grading, while not totally horrendous, is going to take me the bulk of the day. Everything else has to fit in at the odd angles of my day. Sadly. Send him the email that you'll see him tomorrow. Done.
  • I need to send an email to this workshop thing I was very excited about going to, but now have decided to not go to. Why? Here's the story I'm telling myself: I've been in moderate pain since practically the beginning of this year. First it was the back pain (which hasn't gone away, but it pretty manageable now), then the terrible tooth, then just when the tooth was over, I got the worst heartburn/acid reflux of my life. I really thought I was going to die. Now, it's all abated except the referred pain from my back. But during all this time that I've been in on-again, off-again pain, I've been trying to work on Much Needed Article. I decided on a direction, then figured out exactly why that won't work, but in the process missed all my deadlines. Now, I've received word that I need to work on that article from last year because it does seem very likely that the collection is going to pick up a publisher very soon. During all this time, I've been teaching, doing service, taking care of Tot. And me, me in all this? I just want to rest. I want to rest and garden and read books. I want to do yoga and take care of myself and get healthier, because lately I've just been dragging my sorry ass from one thing to another. With Tot and his challenges (sleep and super-activity), I feel like I have very little time off from others' expectations and needs. I have almost two weeks off between the end of spring quarter and my full-time summer obligations, time when Tot will be in daycare during the day. And the workshop is scheduled during those two weeks. No. Just no. I can't. And now it turns out we're going to be moving during that exact same time. No. Sorry. I just can't do it. This email does not need to be sent today.
But I think the absolutely first thing I have to do is make some coffee. I can't believe I've even gotten this far without a cup of coffee (though I have been wondering whether I should quit coffee -- come on, EE, not today: don't you have enough to do? Don't you want to try to get stuff done today?). Then a shower. Then. . .everything else. As much as I don't want to do anything right now (except buy that book and dive in), I better just do my best to race to the finish line so I can have the bulk of those two weeks to myself, even though we'll also be moving and I'll be preparing summer syllabi. I'll have true time off. . .in October. Sigh.