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Thursday, January 20, 2011

I am rather amazed at how much I managed to get taken care of, despite the busy schedule. Today was not a representative Thursday, as all of my classes only went about 45 minutes (still too early for the serious work to get rolling), and I didn't have a committee meeting. But on sober consideration, I think it will be a coin-toss which day is the more wearing, Tuesdays or Thursdays. Despite the long hours on Thursdays, they may end up being less draining than Tuesdays, which will be compact but contain little or no breathing room. It all depends on committee meetings, when they fall and how often. I'm bailing on more and more committees--and may give up even more if I end up taking on the liaison position I've been offered with ASLE (the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment, the international flagship organization for my field of study). I need to think carefully about what the duties would entail (I've read over the information sheet but I'm still not entirely clear about what's called for): I don't want to take it on if I won't do a good job, or if it would add significantly to my stress levels. On the other hand, it would look terrific for promotion (and yes, I'm already thinking about that, even though it's six years down the road). And I have a hunch it might be more interesting than the routine campus committee work. Hmmmm.

But today, as I said, was productive--and my only cause for bitching is that my body still isn't 100% healthy. Really, in terms of what I did, it was an easy day.

I met with the final section of 102 this morning: only a little over half the students were there, and this may be a problem for a while. The class not only is on a weird grid (9:30 on Monday, 10:00 on Thursday), it also meets in two different classrooms. I've put in a request for us to be shifted into one room that we can make our home (it's hard enough to keep on top of the shifting time), but that may not be possible--and if it is, will certainly take several weeks to accomplish. The room we were in today was far from congenial. There are big, heavy plastic shades on the windows that have been broken so they won't roll up. (I rolled one up by hand, just to let a little sunlight in.) There are two broken overhead projectors cluttering up the place, along with other miscellaneous bits of defunct office furniture: it looks a bit like someone thought it should be a junk repository and then forgot that decision and scheduled classes in it. Plus it's a long, narrow room, so I feel like I can't quite see the students in the back, and it's difficult to move around. I took a look at the room we'll be in on Monday: it's difficult to get to (the front half of the second floor is sealed off from access, so one needs to trundle to the back of the building to go upstairs)--but the room itself is much nicer. It will be interesting to see if the change in venue does anything to the students' responses. (They seemed pretty lumpy this morning.)

The other two classes that met today are on a regular Tues/Thurs grid--and I got a few new students in each one, lost a few in each one (or so it seems). Interesting moment: I was in the main office, stapling paper assignments (as the copiers are out of staples--and apparently out of hope, too, as they break down continually; I can sort of relate). In walked a student who had shown up for my 102 for the first time today--about 30 minutes late at that. Not terribly to my surprise, she wanted to get into someone else's section. I was perfectly cheerful about that, directed her to the office staff who might be able to help her, and once I finished with my stapling, I said, "I hope the change of section works out for you, but if not, we'll make things work, OK?" She looked utterly startled but gratified. No skin off my nose either way.

In a similar moment, as I was entering one of the class buildings earlier this week, I saw a student from last semester--the one who somehow thought he deserved an A even though none of his papers had gotten anything higher than a B. I said hello, cheerfully, and he responded--then I saw his face change when it landed who I was. I have a sneaking suspicion he may have made a rude gesture or comment behind my back: I know he dislikes me pretty intensely right now--and I did hear the young woman he was talking to laugh and say something in response to him after I passed by. Oh, whatever. Maybe he blew me a kiss.

But now, I can let the weekend begin. Yes, I do intend to go out for dinner (though I've not yet decided where). I have a little work to do over the weekend, prepping at least one assignment (more if I can), but mostly I can just rest on the laurels of having gotten through the first week with my faculties intact. I'm taking a break from reading Barbara Kingsolver's Lacuna (lovely but strangely scratchy for me: I have to read it in doses) and have re-embarked on Dombey and Son, my favorite Dickens novel. Apart from shoveling out tomorrow morning's snow well enough to get to a doctor's appointment in the early afternoon, I look forward to essentially camping out on the sofa, reading and drinking massive quantities of tea. Maybe by Monday I'll have this hurkey-furkey kicked for good and will be able to pole-vault myself into my classes with joyful abandon. We'll see.

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