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Wednesday, December 7, 2016


(A little Pogo reference is always a good thing.)

I have no idea what to say about today--and I'm not entirely sure why I feel so addled about it. It was too all intents and purposes (or, as my students would say, "all intensive purposes") a relatively normal day: Advisement, classes, miscellaneous bits and orts after classes. Yet I feel like several strands of pearls broke all at once.

Maybe this state of mind explains why I still haven't found that book and the folder. I'm at the stage where--short of making sure I didn't put it in the freezer--I need to just accept that it's lost and reconstruct as much as I can, when I can.

And that's not now. I would dearly love to use this weekend to get a good whack in at constructing both my syllabus for the spring section of Nature in Lit (assuming it runs) and the potential online version, but we'll see whether that's realistic. I have to be on campus Friday to work with Cathy on adjunct schedules, and I do have a life to live.

At the same time, there is not a whole hell of a lot of time remaining for me to get stuff off to the copy center--or figure out a way to limp along for the first few weeks without having everything copied and ready for the students. I did find a really great document online that provides extracts from Of Plymouth Plantation (which is usually where I start the semester)--better, more apropos than what I've taught in the past. I was planning a complete reboot, but I just don't see how I could pull it together in the time I have. It is unbelievably time-consuming to select readings--make sure I have enough material but not too much, figure out how the readings can work for essay topics, know I like the readings well enough that I won't lose my mind teaching them--then make the photocopies, construct the actual reading schedule....

I'm starting to feel waves of panic at the thought. Calm, calm, Dr. P. I can't do any of it right this minute--wouldn't be able to even if I did have the book and folder--so it's a worry for another time. This weekend, I do hope.

This is part of being in the trenches, and I talk about it frequently: the need to balance life maintenance and work responsibilities--and all the things I want to do, personally and professionally, just because I want to do them. Nothing makes me take violin or riding lessons. Nothing makes me reconstruct my syllabi, select new readings. Nothing but my desire to keep things interesting, to expand my horizons, "curiosity, adventure, delight."

And another thing I talk about frequently is the ever-shifting triage list--what comes up to the top of the stack--and trying to clear the space around my feet (metaphorically speaking), crossing off the little things on the list so I don't fret about them (or forget them) when I'm tending to the larger, more important issues.

So, tonight after class, I tried to contact Cathy, to ask her if we could find a time earlier than what she'd proposed to discuss the adjunct I observed last night (which led to a scene that could be comedy: I sent a text to the number I have as hers in my phone--a number I know I've used in the past to contact her successfully--and I ended up getting replies from someone who didn't know who I was (even though I identified myself, twice), back and forth a couple of times, and then the person on the receiving end of my texts said he was "Norman's son" (I have no idea who "Norman" is); when I said I had the wrong number, as I was looking for Cathy Fagan, he said, "It's OK; you may be looking for my father." No: your father, Norman, is definitely not Cathy Fagan. Good lord.) I was trying to explain to Paul what I was doing, and trying to read and make sense of a call for papers that was a paper in itself (and turned out not to be anything I could respond to in any intelligent way) as well as some other e-mails.

One of those e-mails was from the new college president--stating exactly what I feared and what Paul said would be the case: the president sees the vote of last Thursday's committee meeting as his carte blanche to disassemble the committee and establish his own, outside the academic senate--completely removing a huge area of responsibility from the senate. I couldn't just let that go, so I wrote a lengthy e-mail to the chair of the planning committee, the chair of the Academic Senate, and the colleague who wrote up the resolution I read and the committee voted on.

That took much longer than I anticipated. Then there was another e-mail I needed to respond to. This morning, in the parking lot, I happened to run into the new chair of our department's curriculum committee. I whined a bit about the lost paperwork for the online Nature in Lit (which she'll have to sign again, assuming I don't find it), but then I remembered that--as I was getting the original signatures--the dean of our area suggested that I also get it designated as fulfilling the "Western Heritage" requirement. Our departmental curriculum committee would have to handle the beginnings of that process, so I mentioned it to the new chair. She sent out an e-mail to the departmental curriculum committee--cc'ing me--and getting the new designation for the course is on the agenda for their meeting tomorrow. I can't be at the meeting, but--since I brought up the issue--I did a little scrounging around into forms and processes, and wrote a rather lengthy e-mail explaining the process (as I understand it), attaching forms where I could, giving some of the history to explain why the course didn't have the designation to begin with...

(Jesus, did that make any sense to anyone but me??)

Seems like something else came up in there, too: all of this after class.

Classes were OK. Again, the earlier section struggled more with the reading (the introduction to the novel and Le Guin's essay "Is Gender Necessary? (Redux)"), but ultimately, they seemed to be catching on. They're still mostly baffled by the whole idea of what critical research is, but ah well. (That bafflement is true of both sections.) I have no idea what to expect of their essays, but I'm keeping my expectations very low. And we're really feeling the time pressure now.

(Pause while I put together a conference sign-up sheet. If I don't do something the instant I think of it, I'll forget.)

 And now here it is almost 8 p.m., and I was trying to get out of here early tonight. Ah well.

But now I really do have to go. I have to be back here for a 10 a.m. observation tomorrow--and I'll be here until at least 7 tomorrow, as I'm seeing a student at 6:30 (or that's what we decided last night anyway). And back here again between 9:30 and 10 (realistically closer to 10) on Friday.

Hold on to the safety bar and scream...

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