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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Usual First-Day Mixed Bag

I started the day making up time in Advisement: I don't remember why, but at the end of the spring semester, I owed them 3 hours. Originally I was scheduled to do the make-up on Friday, but I had a mysterious, transient fever (with accompanying chills and ague); since I got to campus early enough today to make up the time, I decided to go on over, and they were busy enough to be grateful for my help. So, that's done. I have my regularly scheduled time tomorrow, and I expect the mixed bag that I saw today: students frantic to graduate this semester; students who lost their schedules for one reason or another and need to reconstruct them; students who are just now realizing they have to register for classes. One young man showed up today, and when I asked how I could help him, he said, "I think I need to sign up for classes or something?" Ye gods and little fishes. Ah well.

I met with both 101 classes today, and I have to say that only one young woman was demonstrating resistance--especially when I talked about grade inflation and showed what "average" actually means. Yep, hate to break it to you, my dears, but a B is not average. An A definitely isn't average. Average is a C. Everyone else seemed to be on board, and I had a lot of the thing I like, when students leaving made a point of making eye contact and saying something to me ("See you next class," or "Thanks, Professor," or whatever). That indicates some engagement, so I always figure it bodes well.

I know that the first day--the first weeks--can't be used as an indicator of how each class will develop, but today, the earlier class was decidedly the better, more engaged of the two: I could feel a lot more energy in the room. It might be simply because there were a few more bodies, but I also think the chemistry is working better in that class, at least right now. I did notice, looking at the roster, that the male-to-female ratio in that class is about 2-to-1. The later class is slightly more gender balanced. That doesn't mean anything about potential chemistry, however; it's a completely separate observation, and no more than that: just an observation. I will be interested to observe how many students add the class over the next week (and if any drop).

I'm also aware of the lack of office mates, with both Paul and William off on sabbaticals. I can sometimes go a day or so without seeing either one, or only seeing them in passing, but having them not here at all feels quite different. There's a stillness to the room, the absence of the vibrations of other humans. I don't quite know how to explain that, but I'm very sensitive to it, the way the charge in the air changes when another human is around, even if there's no interaction going on. I miss the "boys," but I also like solitude a great deal, so it's not bad to feel that aloneness, it's just very different. I know I'll miss being able to bounce ideas off them--and even just the daily sharing of life in the trenches with them. But I'll also put the sense of silence to good use.

Not much else to report at the moment. I didn't sleep well last night (subterranean anxiety, no doubt: I wasn't aware of feeling anxious but of course I was having "opening night nerves"), so at the moment I'm very tired, and very hungry--and it's spectacularly hot outside, which has an enervating effect. My good intentions to get some kind of exercise this evening may go the way of most good intentions. I hope to sleep better tonight, now that I have the first day ticked off, and am very much looking forward to meeting with the students in Fiction Writing tomorrow.

And yes, I'm already sort of counting down the weeks and days until I'm officially on sabbatical. One at a time, one at a time.

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