Saturday, May 10, 2014

RBOC: Liveblogging the final exam and thinking of the future (and shoes)

  • I am not pleased about CBU's habit of scheduling final exam blocks on a Saturday.  They do this in order to speed up the grading cycle, since the final grades for seniors have to be tabulated far enough in advance to let the administration work out who is actually going to graduate and who isn't.  I get it, but still.  
  • Plus, as I might have mentioned on this blog before, it's total bullshit that they give the students exactly one reading day between the end of classes and the start of finals.  Once again, the administration demonstrates that it doesn't really care that much about academic quality, but really just wants to hustle its customers through efficiently.  Sigh.
  • Several students I had this semester enjoyed my classes enough to declare either a major or minor in pseudology.  In a school at which most students seek the path of least resistance, I consider this a personal victory.
  • Thank heavens, everyone is here.  A few times in years past, I have had a student all but assassinate hir GPA by not showing up to the final exam.  It's really depressing to see a grade sink to an F because the student simply never even walked into the room and threw something together on paper.  Even a disastrously failing exam counts for some minimal points, in my rubric.  I take my cue on this issue from King Lear: nothing will come of nothing.
  • I have complex feelings about overseeing final exams this semester.  On the one hand, I doggedly cling to my sense of self-worth as partially rooted in being a rigorous teacher, which requires me to spend a lot of energy considering how to grade essay exams.  On the other hand, I have the distinct sense right now that I must expect to make my living outside academia, and thus feel like spending more than minimal energy on grading is a waste of effort.  (Does anyone beyond the academy even give a shit about my teaching portfolio?)
  • If nothing else, though, I feel like I still need to be rigorous for the academic benefit of the students who really tried.  I may well go to an early grave because of my insistence on encouraging excellence and discouraging mediocrity.
  • So, have I mentioned that I'm looking for a job outside academia?  Long-time readers know what that implies as a start for a self-absorbed would-be bourgeois like me: new clothes!  I picked up two of this bad boy, in gray and navy.  (Slightly more understated patterns than the stripe pictured, but you get the idea.)  These are the first suits I've ever owned for which I actually paid attention to the style and cut to make them look good on me. 
  • And, comme de juste, new shoes!  I've become aware that there are dress shoes and then there are dress shoes: specifically, the kind that I have always worn are meant to last for a few years at best before falling apart, but others are built for the long haul.  I can't yet consider purchasing a $700 pair of shell cordovan oxfords, but I seem to be inching closer to that.  For the time being, I'm sticking with my cheap-ass might-actually-be-plastic black cap-toes from DSW, but I'm adding some good-quality brown shoes to my wardrobe.  Check 'em out!  (I ordered them in walnut, if you're curious.)  I'm told these shoes will last for decades, with a little care.
  • This class is blessedly quiet and focused.  Makes it much easier to geek out about suits and shoes.
  • Oh, poor soul of a student staring at that blank page!  I feel for you, I do, but I effing told you repeatedly that you need to come to class in order to grasp the material.  Please do not look surprised, now that you confront essay questions you have no idea how to answer.  The look of resigned misery, however, is appropriate.
  • I feel emotionally torn between the two extremes of my career-seeking advisors: those who are sure that next year will be the year! and those who are convinced that academia is just a con job and I should run.  It feels a bit like dueling cults vying for my loyalty.  If nothing else, it suggests an exhausting job hunt for the foreseeable future, as I try to live in two worlds at once.  I suspect that this will not work out well for me, and I will feel obliged to drop academia as too much time and effort to spend when I have to earn a living elsewhere.  But we'll see.
  • Back on the topic of business dress, I feel like a schmuck right now with my full academic regalia hanging in my closet.  I know, I know, it's always there for Harry Potter-style Halloween costumes, but y'know?  I bought that outfit as a goad to myself to secure an academic job.  Perhaps this is yet another reminder that, whatever effort I put into this business, I am not ultimately in control.
  • On a related topic, do I really want to march in the graduation exercises this year?  I know every use of the regalia helps to amortize the cost, but fuck, people, I don't know if I want to sit there shvitzing for several hours while a parade of idiots old and young speak on the dais.  Every encounter with academic ritual right now feels like touching a raw nerve.
  • Wow, first student to finish took an hour and fifty minutes.  And zi is no scholar, either.  I think it's a good sign that even the so-so students are taking this seriously enough not to rush through.
  • Damn it, I'm getting hungry already.  I rose earlier than usual today, probably out of the ancient anxiety of sleeping late and missing an exam, but this meant that I had time to cook a proper breakfast for myself.  I was hoping that would sustain me until a little closer to lunchtime, but I forgot to factor in the physical effort of standing for three hours.  Now I just want the few remaining exam-takers to hustle so I can get some food.
  • Burgundy/oxblood shoes: too much for ordinary office wear?  Opinions?
  • My shopping habits seem to me an indicator of the kind of employment I need to pursue, in one form or another: research.  I can't even buy a pair of shoes without researching leathers and cobbling techniques for several hours.  Hopefully, this obsessive tendency of mine will pay off in a good job that uses my geekiness skills to best effect.  I wouldn't mind also ending up the best-shod pseudologist at the party.
  • OMFG, kids, there are only fifteen minutes left, and you've been at this for 2.75 hours.  What the hell could possibly take any longer?  If you're waiting for inspiration to strike, I have news for you: it's not happening.  Just wrap it up so your professor can go to lunch.
  • Stop sitting there staring at the page.  You look like your ass could take root in that chair at any minute.  It irritates me.
  • Did you know that I get cranky when I'm hungry?
  • Down to two minutes now.  Whether they like it or not, in five minutes' time they'll all be out the door no matter where they are with this exam, and I will be in the sunshine heading toward lunch.
  • DONE.  Aaah, only two more of these to go!


  1. Burgundy/oxblood shoes: Super-awesome idea! Wear 'em with some dark pants, a conservative shirt, and a subtle but stylin' tie. Everyone needs red shoes.

  2. I love the brown shoes! And I have a couple weeks to go before I am in your (finals) shoes, but I feel ya! Yes, I do. Preach.

  3. Exams on a weekend? Eff that noise!