There is so much going on, I don't know whether to scratch my watch or wind my ass. I'll try to provide a complete precis of the day, as illustrative.
Late last night I sent an e-mail saying that I wouldn't make the 10 a.m. seminar hours workshop. I got home so late, and it took so long to wind down, I opted to set the alarm for an hour later than I would normally. However, by some miracle, I still managed to get to the workshop only about 15 minutes late, was still able to help Tom--and had time to address my own particular concern about how I can handle the intensive conferencing I'd like to do. We're not opening that option up to the full faculty until we've had a little test-drive of it first, but if what I do works (and it also works for another colleague, who is also on the seminar hours committee), the committee can discuss how to make the option available. I would worry if there were a sudden stampede of people wanting to do the conferencing--that could blow the system up in several ways--so I think we might want to start simply by finding out how many faculty regularly did conferencing and have had to give it up because of the seminar hours requirement. The numbers who respond with a "yes" will probably determine how we want to handle it.
But that conversation necessitated an e-mail--which sounds like it ought to take seconds but actually takes longer, most of the time (in the interest of clarity and an attempt at brevity, which is never my best thing). However, I postponed writing the e-mail in order to try to mark those last few assignments before the department meeting started.
I actually stayed for the entire meeting. There were a lot of important announcements; I was on tap to explain that there is a problem with Banner, which will allow students who have passed ENG100 to take ENG101--which is simply a waste of time: they don't get more graduation credits for it, because the two courses fulfill the same function, and they can't improve their GPA: all that's happening is they're missing a chance to move forward into ENG102, which is the next step from either 100 or 101. Lots of questions from my colleagues, some of them very pragmatic, some more philosophical. I also was asked by a colleague to make some kind of official notation about his classroom preference for the spring, since he's next in seniority to Bruce and is also going to retire. (Noted.) Several other little bits came up in the meeting that engendered "to do" notes for myself on my pad.
Then came the big announcement, about Bruce's retirement. Despite the active grapevine around here, some people where caught completely unaware--and left the meeting stunned.
I came back up to the office to finish marking the last teeny bit of student work for today's class--but both William and another colleague came up to bat around ideas for who would be interested in becoming the new chair. I also was button-holed after the meeting by a good friend and colleague, who joined the vast flock of people who think I'd be good at the job, while I know very well I would suck at it. I truly would, but no one believes me. They do, however, understand when I say I'd hate it--which I would--and that the last thing I want to do is to spend the last years of my career doing something I loathe.
But the conversation with the colleagues interfered with my getting the last assignment marked. They left for their respective classes, and I finished the marking--only to be a few minutes late to class.
Class went well: lively conversation. However, I had to pause in writing this post just there, because writing that reminded me that even with eight students absent, there were no empty desks: if everyone had shown up, we'd have had to go up and down the hall, looking for empty classrooms from which to raid desks--so I paused to write an e-mail to that effect. (Interesting that, since I wrote an e-mail after the first day asking for more desks, the problem has gotten worse, not better....) I did toss one student: the one I was sure would withdraw after the first day, because he was so outraged that there was an assignment due the next class. As I suspected he might, he came to class today with nothing: neither of his earlier assignments nor his homework for today. Buh-bayee. And I did tell them that the gloves would be coming off: that next class, I'll be patrolling the classroom looking for evidence that the homework has been done. There were a few students who had missed last Thursday's class--and one who showed up today for the first time, in addition to two whose first day in class had been Thursday--so I was giving everyone a chance to get on the ball. But starting Thursday: no homework? Thanks for playing.
About that student who missed the first three classes. She contacted me by e-mail last night, and I told her I was very concerned about her trying to get up to speed, having already missed so much. She swears she can do it. She's very effusive, pretty, bubbly--and I hope somewhat capable, or I'll be bursting the bubble. We'll see.
After class, P&B. The meeting ran long, but I could stay, as I don't have a 4:00 class this semester. But then I had to clear my feet of the e-mails and other little bits and orts that were collecting throughout the day on that "to do list"--plus a few e-mails that came in while I was sending the ones I needed to send, one in particular hitting an "orange" alert in my psyche, as it was from a colleague who wondered if I still wanted to put together a panel that I'd considered back in the spring, when I was young and full of dewy-eyed optimism. (Actually, I would still like to do the panel, but it does mean I have to do some serious thinking, which makes me want to whine and complain about how overloaded I am.) In any event, weed-whacking all those little brambles and ivy tendrils around my ankles meant I didn't turn my attention to marking assignments for the 102s until about 5:30. And since I'm determined to get out of here in time to practice the violin, eat a reasonable dinner, and get to bed at a reasonable hour, I had to stop by 6:30, long before I finished everything--because heaven forfend that I should end a day without a blog post.
Now, however, I can cross "post to blog" off the list and stagger home. It's getting dark earlier these days, so I want to have at least a little light still in the sky as I drive home. I hope to hell I'm not here insanely late again tomorrow night. I have a little more time on Thursday than I did today (have a seminar hours workshop but no meeting during club hour), but I still have what my ex-brother-in-law would have called a "pant-load" of marking to do.
But not tonight, says Scarlett. I'll think about that tomorrow.