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Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Literal and metaphoric fog

Walking back to the office after class tonight, the quad was beautifully misty, verging on downright foggy; I'm sure down by the water there will be actual fog.

And there is fog in my brain, for sure. I had a dreadfully wakeful night--for no discernable reason (generalized anxiety, apparently)--and I don't have the resilience I used to have after a bad night. I've been functioning today, but it's been a bit of a struggle, especially when it came to marking student papers. I just barely got the papers graded in time for the 5:30 class; in fact, I was late to class because I was finishing up the last one when I should have been walking over. Imagine, then, my disgruntlement that a number of students--including the one whose essay I marked last--were not in class today. Two of them contacted me; the rest? AWOL.

One of the two who contacted me is in the kind of predicament that's unfortunately all too common among our students. She is a single mother; she had been living with her own mother but was "kicked out," so now she's trying to make it on her own. Her grandmother, who had been providing day care for my student's baby daughter, has pancreatic cancer, so she's been unable to help out. And my student lost her job over the weekend, so she is unable to pay for day care and couldn't find anyone to help her out today. She probably will have to drop out entirely this semester--and it's a shame, as she has a lot of promise. I wrote her what I hope was a supportive and encouraging e-mail; I acknowledged that she may not be able to continue with school this semester, but I outlined various options for her--and asked her to keep in touch, no matter what happens. I hope she can come back this semester, but if not, I hope she can come back period.

The other student who contacted me is more problematic. It's taken me a while to figure out that he's actually pretty smart--but I think he spends a lot of his time stoned, so his mental acumen isn't reliable. He told me he's not feeling well today, and I choose to believe him, but this isn't boding well for his ability to do well this semester.

Of course, a number of students were AWOL from the 1:00 section of 102 as well--including both young women who were my students last semester. They're both headed for exactly the same outcome they faced last term: pretty soon they're going to be in "withdraw or fail" territory. I am disappointed but resigned.

Today's two meetings were fine. Poor Scott had to patiently deal with the fact that a good chunk of the seminar hours meeting was high-jacked by Cathy--not intentionally, of course--and there were only four of us there. But Cathy did start out conveying information crucial to the seminar hours discussion, regarding the union's stance on the whole magillah. However, what she said very quickly led us into the morass of what the Administration is trying to do and where their machinations leave us as faculty ... and there went a lot of specific, focused discussion of seminar hours.

P&B was more focused, in part because we had to just crank through the promotion applications, make sure everything was signed, sealed and ready to be delivered tomorrow morning but largely because Cathy was very focused in the information she needed to impart. She did share some of the information from seminar hours (it is interesting to me to step back periodically and note how the committees I'm on all dovetail), but she also was simply ticking off a list of things we need to know just so we know them. We'll take action on them in the coming weeks.

And now, I should stay here and read the essays that we'll be discussing in class tomorrow. Or, more accurately, the essays I hope the students have read and will be ready to discuss. After yesterday's class, I am not anticipating much meaningful discussion--and they're gorgeous bits of writing, in addition to having a lot of meaty food for thought.

But "should" doesn't equate to "am going to." In fact, I'm not going to stay here and read anything. I am going to drag myself home and hope like mad that I can get a decent night's sleep tonight. I'm reading an article in Time right now that talks about how necessary it is to mental and physical health to get enough sleep, so now, of course, I'm ready to lapse into dementia, heart disease, and uncontrollable obesity, all at once and all immediately. That, or get some sleep. The latter seems preferable--though perhaps equally unlikely. Still, it's worth the old college try, so to speak...

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