Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Burning midnight oil

Monday was the first day in about a week that I have felt measurably better than crap.  Naturally, I'm risking that precarious degree of recuperation by staying up late to edit my article draft, rather than get extra sleep.  Oh, fuck it, who am I kidding?  I'll get extra sleep anyway, because I'm totally going to blow off my yoga class for the fourth time in a row.  I rationalize this with the observation that there's little point in going to a yoga class when I'm physically unable to breathe through my nose for most of the morning.  So it is that I'm still at the computer at this hour, pounding water, herbal tea, and chicken soup (spiked with dill and cayenne, naturally) to stave off the late-evening discomfort of the stupid cold.

I wanted to have this second draft out the door already, but a week of illness threw off my schedule.  Now I feel the need to hustle, since the whole point of revising the draft was to get a colleague's critique on it in time to incorporate hir suggestions into the final draft I have to submit by the end of May.  I already prepared the quiz for my first class on Wednesday, and I'll be showing a film to the other class that day, so I felt comfortable taking the evening to focus on MY OWN GODDAMN WORK.  Yeah, I said it.

These revisions are kind of a bear, since the essential critique I've gotten so far is to advance the theoretical argument.  It feels much like the diss-writing process, when I'd push my theoretical arguments far enough that my brain felt like a pretzel, only to hear from my committee that I was just laying the foundation and needed to go way further with my arguments.  On the plus side, I'm excited by the direction I'm going in, and I can see dimly ahead some cool intersections with the work of some colleagues I've been dying to cite.  This article is, truth be known, the first really meaningful advance in my analytical thinking since my dissertation.  (The cool stuff that got me the book contract is much more about tangible data than the analysis thereof.)  It's quite satisfying to see a new and unanticipated theoretical intervention taking shape in my work.  That emotional high from crafting something shiny and new is primarily what has given me the energy to focus on my writing after a full day at work replete with irritated sinus membranes and an inexplicable lack of orange juice available for purchase at the café on campus.

But now it is late, and I can feel my brain shutting down for the evening.  I added a good 500 words to the draft, and I think I've figured out a way to answer a thorny potential critique of my analysis, so I'm content to call it a night.  Off to waterboard myself with the Neti Pot, and then to bed.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

RBOC: Still freaking teaching edition

  • Some of my students have begun coming to class barefoot.  I'm accustomed to seeing people take off their shoes during class for comfort's sake, but these people aren't even bringing shoes with them.  We're still getting early-morning temperatures in the upper 30s here in Cornstate.  Why are people doing this?  Is this a thing now?
  • I'll give the barefoot people this much, though: they at least look better than all of those guys who walk around wearing this.
    (Photo credit: Ryan Dunn)
    I cannot see this combination without thinking of poverty.  This looks like an outfit scrounged from the free bin at the Salvation Army.  Awful.
  • In my cold/allergy-induced haze*, I completed flubbed my grading calculations for the test I just gave, and included only 80 points of regular credit instead of 100.  (I meant to make the last question worth double the others, and I just fucking forgot to do it.)  There were some hard questions in there that I anticipated would bedevil a lot of students, so I was relatively generous with the extra credit section.  Now at least half of the little buggers have test scores breaking 100, which will only encourage them to screw around more instead of buckling down and studying for the final.  I FUCKING HATE BEING SICK.
  • Speaking of which, I went to my allergist yesterday, and on their recommendation, I picked up a Neti Pot.  So far, I'm not sure this isn't some practical joke at my expense.  All I'm doing is drowning myself in salty, phlegmy water*** while feeling certain that someone is watching me and laughing as they say, "I can't believe that asshole fell for it!"
  • A pseudology colleague of mine at another school just walked away from a good tenure-track job.  Zi is now in training for a completely different line of work.  Part of me is impressed that zi knows hirself well enough to recognize that academia is not for hir, and is willing to change course so drastically.  Another part of me is sad that I may not get to see many publications from hir, since zi is brilliant and was, by all accounts, an up-and-coming star.  Another part of me is just annoyed that the person who walks away from a job we're all killing ourselves to get is the one who has already been so blessed professionally.  And a small and very petty part of me is relieved that at least one colleague genuinely better than I am is permanently off the job market.  I'm not proud of this feeling, but it's the truth.
  • My Saturday afternoon has been devoted to a load of laundry, a Neti-drowning episode, and about six hours of grading.  I think I'm going to postpone my next dose of decongestant and head to the bar for a beer.  Sigh.
*I can't figure out if this is a cold as I first thought, or a serious allergy attack.  I'm starting to suspect the latter, since a huge build-up of mucus throughout my poor head is really the only symptom**.  Well, that and exhaustion and fuzzy thinking as a result of all the oxygen I'm not getting and the feeling of congestion from blocked sinuses.  
**I know, you really wanted to know that, right?
***See above.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Stuffed-up nose, wounded pride

I have a cold that I caught through some combination of the ever-present miasma of contagions that thrive on college campuses, and the miserable, dragged-out, never-going-to-fucking-end winter that we're having.  (Spring appears to have been a false alarm.)  I have no strength to deal with anything, and I have to go to campus soon because I have multiple student meetings scheduled, to say nothing of my evening class.  I literally no longer care what my students earn for their final GPAs.  Give 'em all As. 
Or Fs. 
Or Cs. 
Or Qs. 
Fuck. This. Shit.

I'm also nursing some sprained pride: it looks like my upper-division topics seminar course scheduled for the fall will be canceled, since exactly one student has registered for it to date.  (SLACs love their small classes, but there's still a minimum enrollment that we have to hit.)  If this happens, the seminar will be replaced in my roster by a second section of the Intro to Pseudology course.  In fact, from an utterly selfish standpoint, that would be a great outcome for me.  I'll be hitting the job market full-time in August, and it would be a relief to have only two preps to teach — and an even bigger relief that the most difficult syllabus to plan and execute would be off my plate.  I suppose I should be pleased at this possibility. 

But it feels like burning down the house for the insurance money; shouldn't I want to teach new courses, stretch myself, and demonstrate my professional versatility?  I also wonder if this doesn't reflect poorly on me as a teacher (and, by extension, my department) that I can't seem to get the measly minimum enrollment.  My intellect tells me that this is not about my poor skills, but about my status as a little-known quantity at CBU: the students are mostly risk-averse, and aren't highly inclined to take a new upper-division course with a professor most of them don't know.  But still, my emotions are stung.  Come on, people. 

Saturday, April 20, 2013

"...But not yet."

I'm having a moment of frustration with the workload demands of a university that values teaching over research.  I'd like to work on my articles and my book, and write a few small grants.  And the stupid fucking class prep DOES NOT END.  But really, if I am honest with you, dear readers, I really want to tell all of my work to go soak its head.  I want to go out and have a few drinks and flirt and do something that does not make me feel like a flesh-and-blood word processor.  And because this is April, when all sorts of professorial chickens come home to roost, I feel like I can't even do that.

I know this is a churlish attitude to take, since I have a decent (if temporary) job, I get to teach some interesting classes, and I'll have the whole summer to write anyway.  But damn it, I want to be a selfish creature now and then.  My desire to have a great academic job that entails considerable professional responsibility whilst maintaining the option of running off to have fun puts me in mind of Augustine's excellent prayer, "Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet."

And somehow, it only occurred to me today, after many years of owning the album it's on, that Gillian Welch and David Rawlings might have had Augustine in mind when they wrote this song.  "I want to do right, but not right now."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Around the internet

Justin Bieber is a shallow idiot.  Everyone, please stop acting as if you are surprised in the least by this staggeringly obvious fact.  Frankly, I find it strange that anyone even gave half a fuck what he wrote in the guestbook.  (Were you expecting some sort of free-verse poetic meditation on the human condition?)

Interesting.  This new pope seems to have a fair amount of ambition and drive for an oldster.  Popewatching is something of an idle pastime for me, sort of like checking how the sports teams back in Hometown are doing.  My own interests in the workings of the Catholic Church are pretty parochial and limited (since Vatican II decided it wasn't okay to blame us for deicide anymore), but I have lots of friends who are really invested in many papal decisions.  It's useful for me to keep up on developments.

About that Iranian time-machine whatsit.

Plus ça change.  :/


ETA: And the awful news from Boston reconfirms that human beings are capable of indescribable cruelty.  My thoughts are with everyone there.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grading jail

Due to an unfortunate confluence of evaluative assignments in all of my classes, I will be spending this weekend in grading jail.  Please visit me in Cell Block 9 so I can remember what human faces look like.

*rattles tin cup on bars*
*plays harmonica*
*grades papers*

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring has sprung

It was almost 70º yesterday.  The weather is beautiful this weekend.  Spring has finally, finally arrived in Cornstate.  Birds are chirping, the sun is shining, flowers are beginning to bloom, and I feel invigorated by the warming spring air.  I also feel newly enthusiastic about dating again.  It's not that anything has happened on that front; it's just that spring makes me feel like, er, dating.  Yes, that's it.

Happens every spring.