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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

A bit like fish and chips...

I feel battered and fried. Silly, really: it wasn't a hard day and included a moment in which I could be amused with myself. I raced out of the house today, concerned that I might be late for class: I opted to get tea from the little on campus snack shop close to the classroom rather than making my usual stop for coffee down the road, sort of flung things around in my office dashed off, got to my classroom--and Kristin was there with a room full of students, clearly in full flood of teaching a first class. What the...?? Oh. I was racing to get there by 10:30, as that was my start time in Advisement all last semester. Class started at 11. I could almost physically feel myself abruptly slow down (a lovely oxymoron, come to think of it).

Meeting the students in Nature in Lit was quite nice. My roster briefly had two students who were in the SF class last semester, but it's back down to one now. Fair enough; I'm sure the other found a more congenial class or professor or time, or whatever he was looking for. The students mostly seemed awake and aware--and one came to me after class to tell me how much he was looking forward to it, and to ask me to look at two of his essays. From what he said, I thought they were observations about Transcendentalist writers, but I took a quick look at them, and they are clearly his attempts to "be" transcendentalist himself. Ah, god: the curse of the creative writer who feels that writing well creatively is the verbal equivalent of a toddler with finger-paints. However, the young man is filled with enthusiasm for words and language, which I do not want to dampen, so I'll need to craft my responses diplomatically and constructively. I do worry, however, about the potential havoc caused to his academic writing by his creative bent. I've said for ages that a huge red flag for me is when a student comes up to me at the end of the first class and says, "I write poetry...." Hang on to your hat: hear comes a veritable hurricane of meaningless magniloquence.

But it's nice to have a student in the class who is jazzed about the material. I couldn't quite get a read on the class yet; I didn't identify anyone who was obviously out of his or her depth, but I'll know a lot more when I get their first writing--and their first reading notes.

I do hope that the block of time between my classes tomorrow turns out to be productive simply in terms of my feeling organized. (It doesn't matter if I actually am organized, you understand, just that I feel that I am.) I've got a lot of little bothersome mental gnats that I need to clear off so I can settle into some kind of work routine, find the rhythm of this very odd semester.

And please God, Cathy and I will stop discovering more mistakes that we made in scheduling.

Oh, but before I sign off for today: one student in the earlier section of 102 shows enormous promise. I remember talking to him in advisement and feeling he was a smart cookie--and so far, all signs are positive. He chatted with me briefly after class yesterday, and today I got an e-mail from him, asking if we would be using MLA 7 or 8. The fact that he even knew to ask is pretty marvelous. Another young man made a point of introducing himself to me after the evening class, and although he's slightly older than the average student and clearly more dedicated to doing well in school, he did keep saying how much he enjoys "typing"--especially if he can talk about something he's interested in. I hope he's equally interested in learning how to talk clearly and intelligently even when he's not necessarily interested in something (a much more important skill)--and that he truly does understand the difference between writing and typing. This ain't chimpanzees at typewriters having a blast whacking at keys and eventually (with the aid of a computer program to winnow out the letter strings that would form the correct words) producing Hamlet.

Early days, early days. There is no telling how the semester will shape up. I think I'm ready (or ready-ish) for the earlier section of 102 tomorrow--assuming the roster doesn't change too drastically over night. And now it's time to toddle over to the grocery store and then toddle home. Tomorrow being that other day we keep hearing so much about.

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