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Monday, September 22, 2014

The long slow crawl up

If I use my roller-coaster analogy, this is the part of the semester when the coaster-cars are moving very slowly and on rails that are slowly, gradually increasing in the steepness of incline. Clank, clank, chug, chug: feels like a whole lot of effort for very little forward progress. I know that we'll get to the "hold onto the safety bar and scream" part soon enough, but I cannot believe that today is officially only the last day of the third week of classes: it feels like I've been in this semester for a decade or two.

I got myself into several major-league anxiety attacks over the weekend, all about work stuff. One was whether I'd have time to read and comment on all the stories that we were due to workshop today. Thinking about it, I decided it would be smart to get up at 6 and get here early, and it's a good thing I did. Things weren't dreadfully busy in Advisement, but shortly after I got there, everyone else disappeared into a closed-door meeting, so I was the only person there to advise--and when their meeting let out, all but one person went to lunch. I had to interrupt the meeting at one point to get a question answered, and just as the meeting let out, I was trying to deal with a situation in which I very quickly realized I was in over my head--but I couldn't get the attention of one of the pros to help. I finally got a few questions answered by one of the pros who came back from a very quick lunch and was immediately going in with a student--I essentially grabbed her in passing and got some information--but after working with the student a little longer, I realized I still didn't know what the hell I should be doing, so I called in another of the pros (who had been on the phone): she wanted to work through the whole complicated situation in my carrel, with me just watching her do the work, but I finally asked if she could just take the student. She said, "Oh, I thought we could make this a learning experience."

For me, she meant. My actual thought was, "Fuck that: you're the professional. When something gets this sticky, it's your job to jump in"--but what I said was that I wasn't up for a learning experience right that moment, which was true enough in its way. If I hadn't asked the pro to take over without me, I'd have been trying to follow what was going on for a full hour: the half hour I'd already spent plus the additional time it took the pro to figure everything out. She did come to me when she'd finished with the student to tell me how the situation had been resolved, so I had my learning experience (thank you very much)--but I also got rid of the student and could do some of my own work around the other students I saw while I was there.

And as it happened, I got the stories read and commented upon with just enough time left over to eat my lunch and mark a few assignments for tomorrow's classes. I'm now relatively confident that I can get all of the stuff done for tomorrow's classes and get the remaining stories read for Wednesday without undue stress or strain. Whew.

But the other source of anxiety, of course, is committee stuff--and my wretched promotion folder. I did a little work on both over the weekend, from home, because I can see how little time I actually have in contrast to how much time the committee crap wants to consume, so I figured I should try to cross at least a few little bits off the "to do" list before coming in today. And at the moment, I'm studiously ignoring all the other committee crap that needs to be done, most of it sooner than later.

Class today was fun. No surprise: we were workshopping stories, and they always have a blast at that. One of my colleagues said that there is only so much workshopping students can do before the begin to burn out, but I think I could easily triple the amount I do and have the students still love it. We didn't quite get to all the stories today; I hope we can get to them all on Wednesday, but if not, the Pseudo-Brit's story will have to take a pass, as his was late. But the students made good, insightful comments--and they're enjoying each other's stories, which is great. No one has completely knocked my socks off yet, but they're all doing a fine job. I'm delighted.
And because I got up at 6, even though I got a decent amount of sleep, I feel like I've been punched and need to lie down.

Soon, soon. Now, I'm going to indulge in just a tiny bit of noodling, then I'm out of here until tomorrow. I may not even set an alarm. I know it's supposed to be bad for the body to have an erratic schedule, but I figure it's worse not to get enough sleep, so, hey.

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