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Monday, December 6, 2010

Blood from a stone

I'm trying to squeeze out just a few more papers tonight--even one--and I just don't think I can do it. I've put in a terrific stint the last two days, really churned along well, but it suddenly hit me tonight all the other stuff I have to get to, in addition to these papers, and that next week I'll be getting final papers (yikes and likewise zoiks!! What on earth happened to the time????) And I still need to pull together the reader for next semester's 102s and get that off to the copy center--plus about a brazilian other things that I want to get done in the next 15 days.

Anxiety levels off the charts--and (as I was just saying to Paul) anxiety makes it harder for me to work and focus. One would think that the wild burst of energy could be harnessed for good use--if not for spurring me to work then at least for lighting up Christmas trees or menorahs or something. But no. My brains start making a high-pitched screaming noise and I can accomplish nada, zippo, zilch.

And I need to go to the grocery store tonight, and I feel like I either have to stay here working (if I have any brain power left after I finish blogging) or go home and fall almost immediately into bed. But a girl does need to eat, dammit, even though I sometimes resent that fact.

Shifting gears radically, interesting update with Mr. Macho. He got his "revision" back today--and hadn't revised. He started to argue with me about why what he'd done was revision--the old aggressive, confrontational approach--and I lost it. I mean, after he'd said, "I'm telling you..." I snapped, finger in his face, "You don't tell me anything." At which point I thought, "Not in front of the other students." I hauled him out to the hall--and in just that brief pause, I was able to calm down enough to approach him more reasonably. I said, "First, I apologize for losing my temper: I shouldn't have done that." Apology graciously accepted--and he immediately calmed down himself. I went on, saying I understood he was frustrated, but he was forgetting what he'd learned about his attitude, that he'd been improving up until today, that I knew he didn't understand but I was trying to explain, and he needed to listen to the explanation. I explained the difference between editing and revision. Then he started telling me that he was frustrated by his group, that two of them were not doing their share--and I realized that his frustration was really panic: he got the low grade on the revision and was terrified that his group was going to let him down and he'd not be able to pass the class.

Ah, deep breath. OK, let's work out a solution. We talked things over for a while; I listened while he vented about the group mates that he's worried about. I told him I want him to make it; that I want to reward the ways he's improved so he can at least pass. I said it was too bad he was so close to failure, but we'd gotten off on the wrong foot at the start of the semester--and he apologized to me. I said, "Well, we both had to learn something, didn't we." He smiled at that.

Anyway, the upshot is that he came to see me this evening, as we arranged, and he said that the other members of his group seemed to be coming through so they were going to stick it out as a group. I talked to him about what else he can do to increase his chances of success--and man, I really want to pass him. He's perfectly capable of doing the assignment and doing them well, he just hasn't had to put in any effort before, in his life, and he's resisting the discipline of college work. But I can see the worried boy in his eyes, and I hope he's learning something about how to handle himself, and the work, and relationships with authority figures (and women generally). I want this to turn into a success story, I truly do.

Oh, and when I went into that class today, there was a little note on the chalk board: "I [heart] T. Payne." Don't know who left it: I said, "That's sweet--but whoever left it still doesn't get an A." A girl in the back said she left it (I don't believe her), and I said, "Thank you, but you still don't get an A." She said, "I don't? Or does that apply to anyone who left it?" I said, "Anyone. It's very sweet, and I'm touched, but it doesn't matter to any one's grade." I left it there all class. It may have been a joke, but I liked it anyway.

I'm suddenly overwhelmed with yawns. That's generally a good sign: it means I'm decompressing (which helps turn down the volume on that screaming noise). But this is one of those judgment calls: which is going to be more productive? Pushing on tonight for a bit and having less to do tomorrow, or coming at what I've got left when I'm fresher, having let go for the night and gotten (I hope) at least a little decent sleep? I just really don't know. Sometimes I can get a read on what makes more sense, but not tonight.

I figure I'll sign off, go back over to my desk and see how I feel facing one more revision. If I can do it, I will. If I can't, then that answers that and it's off to Fairway with me.

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