Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Professor Lazy McSlacker

That's my new name.

Here's the skinny. Here in Dream Academyville, we've been having well nigh torrential rainstorms the past day or so. They were really bad last night when I went to sleep. Apparently, during the night the power went out for me and almost 600 of my closest friends. Now, I have a battery back-up alarm clock, but a couple of weeks ago I took the batteries out to put them in my remote control and forgot to replace them. So, I woke up about half an hour before my first class this morning and started rooting around in the gloom trying to figure out what happened.

Now, did I rush up to campus with my hair in a rat's nest, no make-up, and two unmatching shoes just to teach my eager young minds in my morning class? Hell no. I called the power company on my cell (b/c my cordless phone didn't work) and found out that it wouldn't be on for another couple of hours. Then I called the dept. and told them to put a note on the door saying it was cancelled.

Do I feel guilty? Not a bit. It's only one 50 minute class. We'll have tons more of them.

Slightly off topic, but sort of related to natural phenomenon and sleeping in, I was having a dream about doing research at a famous research archive in an earthquake-prone zone. You know the one I mean.

It reminded me of the first time I did research there as a graduate student. I was getting my reader's card, etc. and the lady went over the earthquake procedure with me.

Lady: This is where you'll meet up if there's an earthquake. If you don't come there, we'll know that something's happened to you.

MW: Great. Sure. No problem; good to know.

Lady: And don't try to save the manuscript.

MW: (*guffaws loudly at the joke*)

Lady: (*gives MW a tart look to communicate that this was no joke*)

MW:, I just mean that I could see the headlines:
"Dedicated medievalist's corpse found lying atop a slightly smooshed but still intact fifteenth-century manuscript."
Lady: (*replies deadpan*) We would name a small travel grant after you.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Countdown Begins...

T-minus...22 hours and counting. Until my first class tomorrow. I'm still in denial about this, but I need to get my arse up to campus and get arranged for the beginning of the semester.

I have....(*wait for it!*)....105 students this semester. As Medieval Pop would say, "that's more students than you can shake a stick at!" But I actually think I could still shake a stick at that many students.

Here at the Dream Academy, we have big classes - there are a lot of students and we need our grad students to teach comp, so there aren't any TA's really. It's lovely b/c I can teach only courses in my field, but they're BIG courses. We have a 3/2 load, but in your "3" semester, you teach a larger section of a 200-level survey course (for us, Med-Ren). It's not quite 2 solid courses - that would be 80 students - but a course-and-a-half with 65 students in it. This is my "3" semester - next semester I'll teach a grad course and an upper class majors course on the exact same thing.

Large classes like this means that I have to get more creative about papers - I cannot grade over 100 4-5 page "close reading" papers and 3 exams. T'ain't happenin'! So, for my large class, I have them doing an exercise involving the Ox. Eng. Dict. It won't be as easy to plagiarize and will be a whiz for me to grade, I hope.

I love the fact that I'm teaching at the same school again this year - after hopping around for the last 3 years, always starting at a new university in the fall, this brings a kind of stability that I didn't know would mean so much. Both of these classes I taught last year, so I can tweak them according to my experience with them last year. No more trying to figure out an entirely new university culture!

So, it's once more into the same breach. And that makes the sting of a new school year beginning a little less stingy.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Yard Braille

What is it with everyone and lawns around here??

I'm not sure I've ever blogged about this...actually, I think I might have, but I can't find the entry anywhere. Okay, I live in a lovely neighborhood - I'll call it Bungalowville. It's very close to school and has many little bungalows - I live in a 2-bed one and I love it.

My nextdoor neighbor has lived in the same house since, like, 1960. She's blind and her name is Miss P. Where we live, it's hot a lot of the year, so the grass growing/cutting season is a long one. And the grass grows fast. I have on more than one occasion come outside on my way to the car and seen Miss P on her hands and knees in my yard literally "reading" how long my lawn was. She can feel where there are weeds, etc. I'll say, "Hi, Miss P" and she'll say, "Honey, you need to mow your lawn." Okay, fine, I'll do it soon, I promise the nice old blind lady next door, who's reading the shame of my lawn like so much braille!

But now, the other neighbors are into the shame game, and we're getting a little sick of it. The lady who lives across the street from us and one over - and I'll name names - Jeri - has been getting a major attitude about our lawn. She'll say things like, "Well, I have a kid come and cut mine, but then I'm not as young as you two are!" And I've looked out the front window and seen her talking to my directly across the street neighbor about our lawn! Seriously, she's madly gesticulating and pointing and acting like it's waist high or something.

Since when did having a perfectly manicured lawn become such a stressful thing? Is this suburban life and I'm just not privy to it? I mean, we let our grass grow a bit and suddenly we're the trashy neighbors no body wants to say hi to. It's not like we have old cars up on cinder blocks on the front lawn - it's just grass!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Random Bits of "Wait, When the F*ck Does School Start"??

Okay - I'm only going to get back on the blogging horse with a bit o' fluff edition. So here goes:

1) We have a new stove - my landlords replaced the one that was older than me and now we can bake things! The old one would leave the bottom of anything you put in it raw and then cremate the top. I have made several casseroles and a lemon bundt cake.

2) The article is....going. Sometimes it's going well, sometimes it's just going. But I've broken through the barrier, I think.

3) Now that wee Shawn Johnson has won a gold, I can stop watching the Olympics (a.k.a. the great time and brain suck that I've been addicted to). I very much like little ShawnJohn - she is - bar none - the cutest little leprechaun gymnast I've ever seen. I want to wrap her up in a bow and keep her on hand to do tumbling runs every time I feel a bit down.

4) Dear Friend has officially moved to Dream Academy City and I'm sooooooo happy to have her and her partner close by. We realized that she now lives 5 minutes away and offices literally a stone's throw away - this is closer than she ever was even when we were in grad school! Back then, she lived about an hour away in next giant metropolis from grad school city. Joy to be so close!!

5) TD left yesterday for a 3-week trip to Temporary Dutchmanlandia and Real Dutchmanlandia (and another European country thrown in for kicks). I don't sleep well when he's not around - every little creak or sound makes me prick my ears up. It'll wear off soon, but it still sucks not to have him here.

6) Starting next week, my schedule becomes ridiculously full. In September, it becomes even worse.

7) I realized today that I teach next week - holy cats! These are both classes I've taught before and the syllabi were made up and copied a month ago. But, I have out what I'm going to say that first week. I foresee many many great student tales this semester!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

I blame the Olympics

I'm having trouble with an article. It's actually a chapter of the diss that I'm peeling off - it won't be part of the Egg. It is Spawn of Egg. And it's not that I'm having trouble figuring out what I'm saying - it's actually largely written - it's been written for 2 years. I'm just having trouble beginning the tinkering process that will make it a stand alone piece.

I've set up deadlines with Senior Medievaliste here at the Dream Academy. I've also already workshopped SoE with my writing group in early May. I got some *great* feedback from that - I remember being excited about it...back in May. And then I tossed it aside for another Egg chapter, for travel and conferencing and trips to Medieval Mom. And now that my deadline is looming (my goal was to have it sent out by the end of the month) - I can't get into it again.

I have tried many ways to procrastinate working on SoE: I have planned all my classes, set up my course websites, and most recently, I have watched the Olympics every night into the wee hours (Oh, the drama of the women's gymnastic team finals last night!! How many more times must we see them interview Mike Phelps??). But I now need to stop fooling around and get to work.

What are some of your strategies for getting back into a languishing project? Um, besides just doing it? Any helpful incantations? Small offerings of food to any particular gods? If so, which ones? What do they like to eat?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back In Black...

Sorry for the unannounced blogging hiatus - I just spent 5 days with Medieval Mom (and Belle, mea culpa for not getting in touch to meet up - it turned out that my mom took off a week from work so that we could spend EVERY MINUTE together! Ugh.)

Overall - it was good - MM and I didn't fight even once! For us, this is a big deal - I feel like we've turned a corner. What I did do on my visit turned out to be akin to indentured servitude. We cleaned out MM's attic, several buffets and a hutch, closets, and a couple of chests. The whole time dodging fiddleback spiders - good times. We're giving away SO MUCH stuff to Habitat, but we also got to go through all my baby/kid things and pick out which ones I want to keep for our future-sprogs.

The rest of the week was spent eating food I can't get here and watching movies (Lilies of the Field, Amadeus, A Room with a View, Jurassic Park, etc.)

More interesting blogging when it happens!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Are we *that* couple?

Last semester I had 2 students in my med-ren seminar who were "going steady" or whatever the kids are calling it these days. They were both a little older and were taking the same classes apparently (at least mine and the Math prof. who taught in my room right after me). And they were pretty good students, but they began to irritate me because they would eat identical lunches every day and always sat holding hands under the table. It just got under my skin...

Now, several months later, TD and I have been going to the gym in the mornings - we always go together (largely because I won't get out of bed to go unless he's glowering over me); we do 30 minutes of machines and then 30 minutes of reclining bike cardio ( case you wanted to know our workout regimen!). Today I realized that we have matching water bottles and matching towels. We always sit next to each other on our bikes, and we share the same locker because all our stuff fits into his backpack. And then we always walk out together and share a banana after our workout.

As we left today, I thought, "Have we become that creepy couple? Do we look like we do everything together??"

Others might read it this way, but part of me also just thinks that it's worth it to do whatever will get my ass to the gym to workout. Maybe it's the same with the other "Bobsy-couple"?