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Sunday, January 17, 2016

Already up to my neck in it

Well, first, after wondering if my classes would have enough students to run at all, I'm now realizing that--in terms of my 101s--I'm instead utterly fucked: suddenly I've got more than 15 in two sections of 101, and I'm wondering how in hell I can possibly get all those papers marked in the amount of time I've given myself to turn them around. The obvious answer is "Don't mark so much, or write such extensive comments," but that's rather like saying "Don't be who you are." Still, I'm going to have to learn how to do it somehow, or I'm going to drown.

The poetry class was allowed to run even though--at the time--it only had nine students in it. It's since bounced up to 12, now back down to 11 ... and heaven knows where it will be by the time the drop-add period is over.

I spent a great deal of time over the break trying to pull that bastard together, too, and figure out exactly what to teach and in what order. I still don't have a clear idea for paper topics, which is a worry--but either I'll come up with something in the next few days or I'll simply work with the students on identifying topics that could lead to thesis ideas. I did end up printing out/photocopying more poems than I needed for some areas and not having nearly as many as I wanted in others--and the segues from one loosely thematically organized bunch to the next are sometimes pretty bumpy or, honestly, non-existent--but I'm hitting walls all over the place at this point. I know I have to have some kind of paper assignments set up--even if they're just the basic parameters (length, format, deadlines, don't use anything other than the poems, don't plagiarize, that sort of thing). And even though I spent hours at it both yesterday and today, part of me wants to keep going, trying to blast through those walls, just because I want it done as in done as in I don't want to have to conceptualize any more: I just want to get into the classroom and start teaching.

Either that or crawl under the sofa and not come out until summer. Personally, the latter option has a lot of appeal right now--but I also know that once I'm in the teaching groove, I'll have the "meaningful distraction" of work, which is, I freely confess, one of my favorite narcotics.

I have some things lined up in the mental queue to work on tomorrow--if I can, around a trip to the vet (one of the sources of potential need for distraction) and a little life maintenance--and I know once I'm in the office on Tuesday, I'll be busy trying to tame the beast of chaos I left in there. I would give quite a bit to have a nice young assistant or two to assign some of those organizational tasks to: "I want one poem per folder, not two or three. If separate copies need to be made, do that, just make sure the bibliographic information is on each copy. File them alphabetically in that drawer by poet and poem title. If there are duplicates, pick the cleanest, neatest looking one."

Well, there's a lovely fantasy. I actually have no clue how Tuesday is going to play out. I don't have anything official until class at 4, but I intend to get in as close to 10 a.m. as possible, so I can sort and file and organize and tidy and clear out like a madwoman.

As for now, I'm going to try very hard to turn off the work part of my brain and vegetate until tomorrow at least. It's hard to let go once I've got my little bulldog teeth sunk into ideas of what I "need" to accomplish, but I'd rather back off early tonight and try to clear my heart and soul, as well as my mind. It's all a work in progress, all the time--which is what makes it all so frustrating and fascinating, simultaneously.

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