Despite my work over the weekend, I find that committee crap is still tangling up my feet and getting in the way of my progress through student work. I did get all the stories read and commented on for today's class, but it dawned on me today that I really need to return the papers to the students in the 101 classes this week, because their next papers are due next week (fuckfuckfuckfuck). Of course, I could jiggle the schedule, I suppose, but then other things will collide. And there really aren't that many papers (sadly enough)--but tomorrow I am scheduled to have three meetings in a row, straight up to class time. I'm trying to bail on two of the meetings (one having to do with the Assessment work I did over the weekend, the other being P&B), but I can't miss the department meeting, because that's when Cathy will present the work done by the seminar hours subcommittee to the department--and not only do I think it's important for me to be there to show some support, I also want to be there to hear what comes up from the faculty. I'm expecting mayhem to ensue, but I could be pleasantly surprised and find that our work has, in fact, cut a lot of the brouhaha off at the pass, as it were. (Talk about a mixed image. What does brouhaha look like as it's storming toward the mountains?)
Not much of great moment to report today, other than the run of the mill run of the mill, so to speak, grinding away at everything to try to keep the mountains from toppling over on me. The workshop in Fiction Writing went well. I'm interested to note that the Pseudo-Brit made a point of mentioning that he doesn't know American football--yet when I had my little conversation with him after class last week (about his stories being late), I thought I noticed that his accent faded away. I don't know--and it doesn't really matter--but I guess I'll allow him his identity as a Brit and stop with the Pseudo prefix. He was not quite as obnoxious in his feedback (though I caught my Sweet Student smiling to herself at some of his remarks, and I wanted to wink at her and smile in agreement); very clearly he was working hard to be less overbearing, more willing to admit that he might not be right in his way of seeing things. He is more vulnerable and insecure than might be apparent at first, and I confess to finding his clear desire to do well and to please very touching. The feedback is getting better across the board, I think--and I also notice that, in general, their reading notes have improved: they're starting to focus on things the way they need to as budding writers.
I wish I had a better sense of what to do with them on the days when we're not workshopping. I think I'm doing better this semester than I did the first time I taught the class, but there's still a lot of room for improvement. In a few weeks, one of my colleagues and I have a friendly meet over coffee and a baked goodie planned, and since she knows a lot more about all this than I do, I'll pick her brains, see if I can get some good ideas to try out for the remainder of the term.
My meeting with my Conversation Partner today was interesting. I did help him a little with some of his writing, just in terms of helping him see what his teacher was pointing out in his writing. Part of his neurological make-up is that he can come up with lots of discrete ideas but has trouble seeing connections between those ideas, so that was what I tried to focus on. But he was writing about animals (and clearly he loves animals and values their innocence, their emotional lives), so I got him talking about his dog, which warmed him up in that funny way that people on the autism spectrum have of showing that they're feeling warmth. He wanted to express that warmth at the end of our meeting but wasn't sure how to, so ultimately, he offered to shake my hand. I almost asked him if he does hugs (advice from a website about ways to communicate with people on the spectrum), but I hesitated just a fraction too long. I was charmed, however, by the way in which he was touched by our conversation.
"Sweet" seems to be the word of the day.
I'll be heading out of here in just a few minutes, but before I do, I want to try to organize the stacks of stuff--at least in very general terms--so no pearls bounce behind the furniture or fall through the floor-boards. The chaos in here is getting a trifle worrisome, and the chances of something disappearing are increasing as the stacks of paper grow higher. But I'll be in bright and early again tomorrow (6 a.m. alarm today, tomorrow, and maybe beyond, oh god), and I want to be able to dive pretty much straight in.
And now, off I go. The yonder isn't so wild or blue, but it is yonder....