Friday, December 30, 2011

Trouble in mind

Dame Eleanor's comment on my last post reminded me that I should say something here, lest my readers think I've taken a turn for the worse.  It's been a very long ten days.  I am generally feeling pretty terrible after this family visit, and wondering if my low-rent university health insurance will pay for any therapy visits.

I can't write any more about this stuff here.  Listen to music instead.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Music for hard times

Sigh.  I'm gearing up for a week and a half up in Hometown with my family.  As usual with these things, I will not go into details.  I need to vent here, though, that this visit is going to hurt.  I am dreading this visit the way I used to dread going to the dentist.  As a lot of us know, there's no ultimate cure for the kind of bone-deep wounds that family relationships can inflict.  The best we can do is salve the wounds a little.  Hence the music.

June Tabor – The Great Valerio

Mary Gauthier – Mercy now

Gillian Welch and David Rawlings – Hard times

Sarah Jarosz - Come on up to the house

Friday, December 16, 2011

Wardrobe update

Like all good bargain hunters, I know that half of the battle is a matter of patience: you need to wait for the really good sales to roll around.  Finally, a good one came up, and gave me the chance to update my wardrobe a bit from "harried and impoverished grad student" to "harried and semi-impoverished professor."  I am particularly pleased that I've finally bought myself a second sport coat, and – oh, happy, geeky day! – sweater vests

I feel  :)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

RBOC: Post-grading

  • Most of my students ended up doing tolerably well, I'm pleased to report.  Most of them, I'd wager, ended up getting pretty much the grades they wanted.  The rest of them got the grades they deserved.
  • We are now in the post-finals grade-grubbing period.  I will never entirely understand why students believe they can get their grades adjusted upward just by asking nicely.  It's not second helpings of pie, kids; it's an evaluation of your performance.  Live with it.
  • Speaking of grade-grubbing, I'm amazed that some students are so self-deluded that they don't understand why they failed.  Look at your grades on Blackboard, you jackass!  How can any of this be a surprise?
  • In one impressive case, a student seemed to believe that zi was destined to pass, despite skipping half the work throughout the semester, and failing almost all of the rest.  All of this is clearly delineated in a web page to which Stu has access.  How does zi not know this?  And whence comes the chutzpah to ask me if I can just give hir a passing grade?  I won't do this for anyone, but it seems additionally bonkers to ask it of a professor for whose class one has exhibited virtually no effort at all.  
  • I feel like I need to vent about this here, because my inclination is not even to dignify the grade-grubbing email with a response.  Partly, this is due to my sense of principle: the grades are published, there's nothing else to be done.  And partly, it's because I fear my own capacity for sarcasm under such circumstances.  I don't know that I'm capable of composing an email to someone who irrationally believes they should pass, in which I point out an almost unbroken chain of disastrous failure leading to a failing grade, without sounding sarcastic about it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Post-conference exhaustion

I'm feeling a little knocked out right now, after going through finals week as a professor for the first time ever.  Please accept my apologies for saying so little online lately: I couldn't think much about the blog this week.  A week ago, I was just getting back to Ghosttown from the Major Area Studies Conference, where I got to see Shedding Khawatir again, and had the pleasure of meeting and hanging out with Ajnabieh.  (See my sidebar for their respective blogs.)  I had a fine time there, and enjoyed feeling a little bit more like a scholar on the loose than a kid at the grown-ups' table.  Much like I did at the Big Giant Pseudology Conference, I savored the chance to see my old friends again; the smaller number of such friends at MASC is tempered by the sweetness of seeing a number of people who live quite far overseas, including some countries that are prohibitively expensive to visit without a grant or an expense account. 

Right on the heels of the end of MASC, naturally, I came down with a cold, which I've been enduring all week while administering final exams to my classes and, when time permits, grading them with my TA.  It's lucky for me that I have so little pride — otherwise, I suppose, it would have been embarrassing to arrive at a grading session with a huge box of tissues in hand.  (My nose has been running all day.)  But tonight, I uploaded all my final grades to the university system, and they have been finalized.  I AM FREE!!!...for a few days, anyway. 

I guess that, after a day or two of seeing colleagues getting 'faced on cream-based cocktails at the local pre-Christmas parties, and grappling with the maddening conflict between Nyquil, Dayquil, and bourbon, and other post-Finals Week issues, I need to focus a little attention on my sorely neglected writing.  And then, of course, I need to plan out my syllabi for next semester for reals.  Lord help me, I'll be teaching my first-ever upper-division course, and I will use this blog as a way to vent the sad fact that

I have no fucking idea how to do this.

Please don't tell anyone.

I haven't been in an upper-division course targeted toward pseudology majors in, gulp, twelve years.  And that was back at Alma Mater College, which was quite a different place from Ghosttown U.  I've already planned out a pretty feasible reading list, I think/hope, with the assumption that I shouldn't slam my students the way we were slammed at AMC.  But I need to do the fiddly work of scheduling weekly assignments and so forth, and I guess I'll just have to learn through trial and error how to lead a discussion-based seminar course.  (Moan.) 

On a side note, I assume that a lot, if not most universities are going through the same finals-and-grading stampede right now, so I'm willing myself to be calm and detached about all those prelim interviews I had a few weeks back.  Nearly all of them told me they'd let me know the status of my application some time this month.  I'll probably start climbing walls and forging prescriptions for sedatives in another week if I don't get some good news about those jobs, but I'm okay.  For now.

Meanwhile, I'm going to swaddle myself in woolen clothing, because it's fucking cold here in Ghosttown, and try to get myself to the supermarket so I can buy some more generic cold medicine so I can try to fall asleep without feeling like my nose is revolting against my body's structural order.