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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Invading my dreams

Last night I had a dream about backed up toilets overflowing--many of them, not just one. I don't suppose that has any metaphoric connection to how I'm feeling about the work these days, do you?

I'm trying to breathe and repeat the mantra: "Somehow it all gets done. Somehow it all gets done." It does, but I'm looking at that stack of student work to read and evaluate, knowing that buried under it is a to-do list of committee work that has been on the back burner so long, it's boiled dry and the pan is about to melt.

But what can I do? I'm cranking through what I can, as I can. I am hugely relieved that my alternate for the elected committee very graciously agreed to attend tomorrow's meeting in my stead: that helped release a little of the pressure. I still have four (maybe five) 102 papers to mark, and six Mystery papers (I'm ignoring all the other homework from both those classes right now): that needs to be done for tomorrow's classes, no matter what. (In fact, I'll cancel my office hour tomorrow: I don't think anyone will show up, but I need to be sure that time is protected, sacrosanct.) I've also been saved by the fact that two students from the 102 class didn't submit papers: they're now both in the "withdraw or fail" position--but that's two fewer papers for me to mark (hooray). I will be taking stories from the Fiction class home over the weekend, but that's not too onerous a task. Some of them will be pretty crappy: I don't have stories yet from the best writers in the class, but whatever. The areas of my brain used in grading papers and responding to stories overlap significantly, but there is just enough difference that I don't get toxically cranky.

The Fiction class was a bit chaotic today: I totally boxed myself in when I created the schedule, so I was scrambling to get enough stories submitted and copied that we'll have something to workshop next week. As it is, we'll probably run out of time on Wednesday--unless I ask people not to contribute unless they have something new/different to say (five stories to cover on Monday, seven on Wednesday--assuming all the students actually come through and submit something). The best part, though, was after class: I had a great conversation with the Real Writer (who is also the lead in An Inspector Calls: I'd assigned it as potential extra credit for the Mystery students but wasn't sure I'd go; now I will, for sure). The talk started because he's struggling with the revision of his third story, but then we got into all sorts of territory--and were talking like peers, not professor/student. Love that. I hope he keeps in touch: he's one I'd like to continue to keep in that lovely group of former students who remain in my life long after they leave my classroom.

After our conversation, I managed to grade a few more 102 papers--did better than I thought I might. I now will quickly (I hope) take care of one little thing on the to-do list (an assessment thingy, yuck): it's due Friday, so I need to turn it in tomorrow (if I'm going to be the good little girl). It isn't much, but crossing anything off that list will feel terrific. Then I will take my aching back home and try for a good night and an early morning.

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