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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Huge, ungodly mess

When I left last night, everything on my desk was in neat, prioritized stacks, organized and clear. Now, it's like the aftermath of a flood: there's all sorts of flotsam from the day's meetings plus student work from both yesterday (which I carted to and from Advisement: I sorted out one stack and evaluated one paper: woo-hoo!). I feel like my office needs an exorcist.

And I'm struggling with students who are submitting papers late for the 101 classes, trying to figure out what's fair since I won't be on campus again until Monday. If they'd just fucking turn things in on time, that would be so nice. Ah well.

I also had to have a talk with the Pseudo-Brit today about being late with assignments. This is the second time that he has not turned in a story the week (never mind day) it was due, and he was late with his revision of his first story, too (long story about that). He's in the usual situation: has to work, has no time to study, so I told him that it's time to do the triage--or at least some reality testing. He believes he has to stay in all his courses this semester in order to transfer, but I suggested he find out if that is, in fact, true. (I didn't suggest that he might not actually pass all his classes, if he's struggling to get the work done, done well, done on time--in which case, pushing to try to get them all done this semester is going to backfire anyway, but that possibility does exist.) I assured him that I don't want to lose him from my class--which is true (and which he dismissed with a shrug, which could have seemed snotty but which I think is more likely a reflection of discomfort with accepting that kind of praise and encouragement)--but I did suggest that he might have to withdraw from something in order to make the kind of grades he's capable of. I also told him that although I don't usually take "points" off late assignments in creative writing classes, because I'm seeing a pattern here, if he continues to be late with his submissions, then the grades will be reduced, largely out of fairness to the other students.

It occurs to me that this could all be seen as a sort of cosmic pay-back for the kind of undergraduate I was: late with assignments (chronically), told some teachers I didn't care if all I got was a C (maddening), spotty in attendance--and awfully damned full of myself, with the arrogance and overweening pride that seems to be an intrinsic part of being young and intelligent. And now I have to go through what my own professors went through. I flatter myself that I was at least somewhat charming, but maybe that was all the more maddening to them. I feel like I need to track them all down and apologize, and tell them that I now understand exactly how they must have felt.

In just a few minutes here, I have to dash off to a doctor's appointment (having nothing to do with tomorrow's tooth extraction), so it seems I may have to simply leave the detritus on my desk until Monday, unless I get a wild hair (and am sufficiently free of discomfort) and come to campus over the weekend just to tidy things away prior to heading back into the usual Monday schedule. A little piece of me thinks, "Well, I could always call in 'sick' to Advisement," but I'm trying to refrain from bailing on that responsibility until the next go-round of first versions of papers for 101. On the other hand, by the time we get to the next round, I may only have five students left in total, so....

Aw jeez.

All the meetings today were torturous--especially the seminar hours committee (I came within a hair's breadth of saying, "You know what? You obviously don't really want input from us, so I resign; in fact, I'm going to retire completely...")--but I'm trying to see the committee experiences as good lessons in learning to let go: other people in this department are competent and capable, and I can hand the ball to them for them to run with. And, to end this on a more positive note: it felt simply wondrous to get my promotion application all neatly put into transparent sleeves inside a binder, with tabs for the sections and either the documents in place or place holders for where documents are missing, so I walked out of here last night feeling virtuous and unburdened. If I don't feel quite so fabulous tonight, that's OK: eventually, all this will be behind me one way or another. And in nine weeks, heavenly day, this really will all be behind me and I'll be on sabbatical. Oh glory be.

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