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Friday, February 20, 2015

Occasional signs of intelligence

Every now and then, I make a decision and, after, think, "Hey, that was kinda smart, what I did there." Today's rhythm is case in point. Yesterday, I was concerned that my trip to the library would throw off the work day and that I wouldn't get anything done. Today, I thought, "What if I did some work first, and then, about the time I usually start to hit the wall, went to the library?"

What happened was, it worked. I worked, I should say. I didn't work on the part of the sabbatical project I thought I was going to work on, but that doesn't really matter. What matters is, I worked. And I still got to the library. The librarian at the periodicals desk was a little annoyed and flustered: I could only look at one volume at a time, and I had to have it back in 30 minutes--and she was actually leaving in 15 minutes: they were short staffed today and the library closed earlier than I anticipated, given the e-mail from my helpful colleague: I arrived at 4:15 and the library was closing at 5.

So, here's the long story: I took the first periodical volume, made my photocopies, and was back with that volume and the request slip for the next one in about three minutes. At that point, the cranky colleague lightened up significantly--and I managed to get my hands on everything I needed, make the copies, and get it all back before she left for the day. Plus, I had time to go to the stacks and check out four books that I want to take a look at. As I was leaving the library, I realized my office key wasn't on my lanyard with my ID, where it usually is. I was halfway to Public Safety, where Lost and Found is located, when it dawned on me that the key might be in my bag. It was, so, greatly relieved, I turned around and walked back. I was almost all the way back to my car when I remembered that I had a book in my bag that I'd meant to return to the library--and I still had time to walk back to the library and drop the book in the returns slot.

Hah! So there.

On my way home, I picked up a black ink cartridge so I can print the rest of the articles I want to read for my psych paper. I don't know why that seems like such a triumph of efficiency, but it does.

I confess, I am still unenlightened in terms of why I can't seem to locate material in our collection when the librarians can find them toot sweet, but ah well. No one has treated me with the impatience that is properly displayed to someone who is being dense, so I don't feel I've demonstrated more than the usual stupidity. Again, an odd sense of triumph there.

As for the work itself, I liked the feeling of "talking" to my students as I was writing. I was working on the student introduction (instructors get their own, which is shorter and somewhat more formal, though not a lot). I am aware that at other institutions, the students aren't going to need some of what I'm including--or even most of what I'm including. I honestly don't have a sense of how well prepared undergraduates at other institutions may be--and as I wrote that, I realized that maybe, once I have the thing in pretty good shape, I should contact people I know who teach at other kinds of institutions, ask them to take a look at what I have and let me know how they think it would fly with their students. (Another thought: if those contacts approve of what I've done, that would be a good selling point when I'm looking for a publisher.) For now, though, I'm simply going to write for the students I know. After all, even in our own classes, students run the gamut from functional illiteracy to bright as all get out--so I may also run the material past some of my former students, ask their opinions.

I must say, I do have my shaky moments, when I'm seriously worried about how little I'm producing, about how much work there is yet to do (will I ever reach a point when I can stop finding critical essays??), but when I try for a more objective view, I have to admit that I'm simply loving this, the whole thing. And I'm relieved that I don't have to struggle against an impulse to avoid the work: I really want to do it, every day. I was afraid that I'd get on the computer and waste the day playing dopey "match three" games and nattering on Facebook, but so far that hasn't been the case. Not that I don't do those things; I do them, just after I've hit the work wall.

As I said, I see occasional signs of intelligence in myself. Cool beans.

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