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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lovely end to a day

Today was less flurried than I thought it might be; fortunately, I'm at the stage in semester when less is flying about--although the assessment meeting did bring to my attention places in which I have once again over-extended myself, because I get interested in stuff, dammit. I have to stop that, apparently. In any event, I finally have realized that I must make peace with the fact that I am simply going to have to find a day, soon, to devote almost exclusively to Taskstream mania. The thing was constructed by people with Information Technology brains for people with corporate brains and I'm a person with a humanities brain trying to use it for humanities purposes--so every time I'm away from it for more than about 35 seconds, I cannot remember what's where or how it works or what's possible. And we have a shit load of stuff to input--and one of the members of the subcommittee is heavily pregnant and so exhausted she can't do much and the other is out recovering from a very difficult and troublesome surgery. So it's all mine. Which in a way makes it easier: I'm going to just make a plethora of executive decisions and inform the committee as a whole what I've done. Anyone dislikes it, they can tell me what to do instead--if what they suggest is easy and makes sense--or they can do something a great deal more physically challenging.

I'm relatively sure I have the triage correctly sorted in terms of the pile of student assignments on my desk, and I did initiate scheduling two adjunct observations plus tagged a very helpful and kind colleague to undertake a third, so that's in the works and, for the nonce, off my list. I have an important committee meeting tomorrow--the one I've turned over to my alternate twice already, so I just am not missing that one again if I can help it (or until I'm on sabbatical)--but I still think I can get enough work done for tomorrow's classes and then just be in regular work rhythm next week. I have to check my calendar and see when else I have meetings and so on in the next two weeks, and then it will be spring break. And then we will be deeply into the "hang onto the safety bar and scream" end of the semester. That's such a funny and abrupt tipping point, and it's almost instantaneous: from "Will this semester never end?" to "Oh My God, it's almost over and I have so much to do!!"

I had a little mini freak-out earlier, because the next mini-paper from the Nature in Lit students is due tomorrow--and I'm not sure I ever handed out the assignment. I'm ready with the ten zillionth schedule change if I did not hand it out, but God I hope I did.

I had a lovely discussion after class with Mr. Dad: a lot of Le Guin's philosophy as revealed in the novel is speaking loudly to him, specifically the emphasis of presence over progress, the idea of being fully immersed in the moment and otherwise trying to maintain a positive kind of ignorance--not as in ignoring anything but as in not bringing any expectations or baggage into each new moment but allowing it to arrive as fresh and pure as possible. We got into a brief discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and Taoism and Eckhard Tolle's The Power of Now.... I love having student conversations like that. This is why I want to establish "salon" hours in the creative writing "library," so student can simply drop by, hang out, and talk with people who are intellectually awake and aware. I hate to say it, but it's not an experience they often get here. For a community college, this place has a magnificently large proportion of superior brains that are alert and active, but still, there is quite a bit on the other side of the bright to dim spectrum as well. So it was cool to have a chance to toss some sparks around with a young man who is looking for that kind of experience.

I came back to the office intending to crank through a few more assignments, but instead I ended up in a conversation with Paul, which was one of our usual fun and fascinating and wide-ranging mental smorgasbords. And then I decided to check e-mail before blogging and found a reply from Le Guin about my questions as raised by the student. I was both relieved that my assumptions were correct and delighted that she, too, was fascinated by what the student found. Very cool beans.

Oh, and one other piece of good news today: the guy I was helping through the promotion to tenure and assistant professor process, the brilliant teacher who couldn't jump through a hoop to save his life, the one whose application was, in my estimation, far weaker than it should have been by rights: that guy told me today that his tenure has been confirmed. I'm so glad. I'm not actually surprised: tenure isn't competitive here (thank god, or he probably wouldn't have gotten it). But I'm definitely very glad and relieved that it's fait accompli. Any other outcome would have been truly a miscarriage of any kind of justice.

But now the fact that I woke up at 4:30 this morning is starting to catch up with me. (My body clearly is confused about sleep/wake cycles, after the last three days of illness and recovery.) And I do want to try to get in as early as I can stand in order to get through as much student work as possible before that meeting. So, I'm off for tonight. I'm also leaving. (Oh hah hah.)

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