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Monday, December 5, 2016

Completely maddening...

Apart from the fact that, in my personal life, I am in a Verizon hell, I am also being driven mad by the fact that I cannot find a book I was looking at for the Nature in Lit course--nor the folder with all the information for the Distance Ed Equivalency, including the signed approval forms. I have looked repeatedly around the house, around the office, the house again, the office again... Over the weekend I thought, "Oh! I know! I left it in Advisement!" I sailed cheerfully into the Student Services Center this morning, sure I would see the book and folder there in my little cubicle ... Nope. I haven't looked in my car (though that's a real long shot), but I truly cannot imagine anywhere else it might be. I know I had it last week at some point, as I was debating whether to take it as my lunch-time reading, but now I can't remember if I might have had it with me somewhere else and inadvertently left it behind. A while back, I left my folder of Advisement information out in the waiting area (and was going nuts trying to find it; if the office administrator hadn't stumbled across it, I'd probably still be looking), which makes me worry that I carried it somewhere and now can't even remember having it in my hands. I haven't looked behind the bookcase or under the bed: it's getting to the point where one starts looking in all sorts of unlikely places (closet floor? file cabinet? some restaurant or other?).

Right now, I'd rather have lost my mind than have lost that folder. I do not want to have to go through the process of getting all those signatures all over again....

There are moments these days when my absent-mindedness is so profound that it scares me. I'm not quite as alarmed as I was a number of years ago, when I would periodically realize I had no earthly idea where I was: I'd be on a bus, or walking down a street, and I'd have no clue where I was or where I was going. I mean that literally: no clue. I could tell I was in a city, and generally assumed it was New York, but further than that, I was completely unable to ascertain. I'd have to stop moving for a few minutes (get off the bus or subway, stand still on the street), and slowly the awareness would seep back in. I know that when I'm deeply engaged on interior work of any kind, I can get lost--and apparently I'm doing more of that interior work than I'm aware of, as there are moments when I suddenly "wake up" in the middle of a sentence and don't know what I was saying--or the time when I held my violin bow in my hand and had no idea how to hold it, had to carefully reason it out: "The hairs on the bow have to go over the strings, so this side has to go down..."

I am grateful, however, that most of the profound moments of bewilderment don't often take place during class. I can come to class without needed materials; I can forget to relay important information, but when I'm in class, I'm usually present in the moment. I joke with my students all the time about my being the absent-minded professor, but it's no joke when I lose track of something very important--and a rather large physical object to boot.

Well, I can do nothing about it until I get home. I looked through the office again to no avail; I'll check the car and the apartment. I trust both the book and the folder will turn up eventually, but I'm hoping they turn up before I decide to start all over from scratch.

Shifting gears to something I completed: I managed to get all the assignments for the 102s marked and back to them--including a small batch that I had missed bringing home with me over the weekend. I got the bulk of those last bits done in Advisement (a stream of students but with occasional breaks) and the rest marked between classes. I haven't yet looked at what I have for the SF class; that will happen tomorrow morning.

Today's classes were not as reassuring as last week's were. The later section did much better again--but in both classes, a frighteningly large number of students have not finished the novel. Today I did a relatively significant reboot of the essay assignment: I told them that finding critical material through the library is highly recommended but not required--despite the fact that I'm supposed to do an assessment of "information literacy" that includes their ability to find and evaluate relevant sources. They do still have to include something in the way of "critical analysis" from an outside source--but they can use either Le Guin's intro to the novel or her essay "Is Gender Necessary? (Redux)," which I provided in their class readers. I am trying to get them over the finish line, even though I know I'm not doing as good a job preparing them for literature electives as I should. And I'm making zillions of mental notes about next semester--among those notes a return to scheduling a library information session. My little quick zip through how to locate sources left them more baffled than anything.

That statement led me on a little side jaunt: I decided to do a little more test driving of how to locate sources from my stuff on our databases, and I made a little headway ... not a lot, but a little. If I have time on Wednesday to go over the research paths again, I'll do that, but mostly, I'm just letting go for this semester.

I'm sure there are things I should be tending to that I'm forgetting (pearls bouncing around all over the place), but I'm going to allow myself the delusion of feeling relatively caught up for tonight. I may be in for a rude awakening, but I'll take the moment of serenity and milk it for all it's worth.

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