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Tuesday, March 1, 2016

brain fade

I've had a low-level headache all day, I suspect because of too little sleep and too many plates to keep spinning, though there may be other biological factors involved. Still, it's made the day feel rather like wading through molasses in January (my father's Oklahoma analogy for something veeeerrrrry sloooooow). The feeling of sludginess was present despite the fact that it was that "being prodded down the cattle chute" kind of day. Bruce had a flat tire, so I was in the Seminar Hours meeting at the start of it (while he got the tire fixed), and again at the end (after he and I had taken over the promotion folders--and had to bring three back because of mundane problems: very annoying--as was the fact that I got what turned out to be the world's worst cup of coffee to take to the meeting after we dropped off the folders). Bruce inadvertently cursed the department meeting by saying it would be quick because there weren't a lot of agenda items: I have yet to be in a meeting at which someone makes that announcement at the beginning when the meeting hasn't defied expectations and run at least its usual length if not longer. (The trick is to not say anything: if the agenda is light, keep it a secret--and then celebrate when the meeting is finished early.)

The meeting with the Mystery Enthusiast was OK. I rather insisted that we talk about things other than the mystery he is writing, but he's still all over the map: on the one hand, he says he wants to be an English professor, and on the other hand, he complains about how the requirements of his classes prevent him from working on his project, which is his real love. I understand that Pushmepullyou problem (and experience it myself), but he needs to decide: is it worth gutting through the undeniable down-sides of the academic process (crappy professors, boring classes) to get to the desired end result, or is that game not worth the particular candle?

In any event, he's charming, and I do enjoy talking with him--I am not even annoyed by small whiffs of ignorant arrogance: he's young and very smart, and he's allowed to be a little overly cocky right now. The actual process of getting where he ultimately wants to get will knock some of the arrogance out of him--and instill instead genuine reasons for pride and confidence.

P&B was pretty easy, thank heavens. We got through the real business of the meeting pretty quickly, and we ended up talking about ideas for things we might do to enrich the faculty experience, enhance our pedagogy--and address the perennial problem of differences in what is considered acceptable (the dreaded "S" word: "standards"). It's all very free-floating at the moment, but--if I can carve out a little brain space to move from a vague idea to a concrete plan--it could be very interesting indeed. That includes considerations of how we want to define seminar hours for the next contract: even though this one doesn't expire until summer 2017, negotiations will begin this summer, and we need to have some hard data and powerful ideas for what we want to see (i.e., not a fifth class).

Class was, as usual, great. The students were working hard on the process, engaged and alert. I don't know what the end result will be on Thursday, but that's OK. They're learning, even if the learning doesn't make its way into actual practice just yet.

After class, I intended to just blast out of here, but instead I ended up completing a mandatory "online training" about sexual violence on campuses: it was pretty idiotic, but it's now crossed off my "oh fuck, I need to do this at some point" list. I did some other noodling around--including writing an e-mail to William stating that, after a lot of thought and with some sadness, I have decided not to run for scheduling. The main reason for the decision is that scheduling has interfered with my ability to help Bruce at crucial junctures, and much as I truly enjoy doing the work of scheduling, I am getting paid to help Bruce--and someone who still needs promotions may be happy to have the chance to be on the scheduling committee. I am, of course, assuming that if I run, I'd be re-elected--which is a rash assumption--but I don't want to risk it: I want to be there for Bruce when he needs me.

So, I've done my share of noodling for the day, and my roller-pack is already set for tomorrow--I hope. If I'm missing anything, I can't think what it might be. I now intend to roll it out to my car and roll myself home. It's past time to leave, for certain sure.

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