Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 in review

William the Coroner had a cool post recapping 2009 in blog posts and site traffic trends. While I don't have as sophisticated site traffic info, I can at least recap some of the highlights of the year.

It hasn't been a great blogging year in these here parts. The more that goes on my life, the less I want to write about. Sorry. That said, here's what I consider to be highlights of the year... or lowlights, as the case may be.


I usually do poorly with new year's resolutions unless they're concrete in some way or quantifiable. So... I vow to blog more regularly in 2010. Catch ya in the next decade.

Now playing: Nina Simone - Feeling Good
via FoxyTunes

Friday, December 25, 2009

Lie to me?

When I was seven years old, I was terrified of The Wizard of Oz. It wasn't the flying monkeys or tornado or munchkins, no. It was something far more terrifying--you see, when Dorothy's house lands on the witch, that's scary stuff. Her house--there's a witch under it, see. To put that in context, the house we lived in at the time had a crawlspace under it, one that raccoons and other critters would often get into and sometimes fight, their snarls and thumps carrying up the the floor of our house. If there was a witch under Dorothy's house, well, who was to say a witch couldn't get underneath ours?

I'm not sure how I would have been able to handle the idea of a man being able to come down our chimney--undoubtedly, I'd have been terrified, lest burglars could use the same entrance.

I was not brought up to believe in the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Santa Claus, or any other number of fictitious entities people seem compelled to make their children believe in. As someone who's grown up in this culture, but never quite a part of it, the phenomenon baffles me.

Why Santa? Why shouldn't kids believe that the gifts they received and loved were courtesy of Mommy and Daddy? Is it the leverage of "be good or else" that Santa provides? Why go to such elaborate lengths (Santa tracking via NORAD, seriously?) to convince the children of a lie? Is it just the nostalgia of how things have always been done?

I'm not being confrontational here, just genuinely curious.

Now playing: Evan Greer - Two Hands Touching
via FoxyTunes

Monday, December 14, 2009

Job-related thoughts

Scattered. Apologies. The brain vomit needs to go somewhere.

Since I graduated with my master's, I fell quite by accident into adjuncting. Before that point, I swore I wouldn't do it. It was poor paying, too much work, and too up-in-the-air. But I had a master's in a liberal art and little job experience, and the offer fell into my lap with the department chair practically begging me to work there. I took it.

I've sworn I'd leave it multiple times over. For one semester, I did. And I came back. This semester, midway through, I swore again that I'd leave. And I've resigned myself to not quitting, to keep teaching. I figured last time when I quit that it wasn't actually my job that was the biggest stressor but several glaring issues with my personal life. Granted, those factors affected my teaching ability, but I've learned to distinguish where the problems were and correctly identify what needs "fixing" through life decisions.

This time it's different. I was ready to teach and am willing to teach--but it may not be financially viable this time. I need a "real" job, one that doesn't leave me high and dry when budget cuts crimp the campus, one that doesn't leave me scrambling to find employment to supplement my current employment when I only get a couple classes.

One change at a time, I told myself. That may get me nowhere but the poorhouse. Onward with the job applications then. The market sucks, but if I get nowhere in the search, I'm still at least committed to two classes (one of which may or may not make...) and a bit of pocket change from my hourly, minimum-wage tutoring gig. And if the search is successful, well, I have no doubt that my department will find any number of willing, able, and under-employed workers to take those classes. My boss at the tutoring gig is more mentor than boss, and she's been very supportive in terms of "if you work for us, I'd love to have you, but if you find something better, great!"

No job will be perfect; I understand that. But a livable income and job security are not unreasonable expectations.

Now playing: Marilyn Manson - Tainted Love
via FoxyTunes

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Unsent letters: Student edition

Hey you,

Yes, short of failing your portfolio requirements spectacularly, you are on course for a solid A. This is a good thing because you are a good writer and a great addition to the class. That said, your grade and exemplary marks have nothing to do with the constant, how shall we say, sycophancy. Seriously. You'd be making those grades without the appeals to my ego, and indeed, I'd prefer you not. Ah well. Our paths shall part shortly, and you'll do me proud in your Comp 2 class regardless.

Hey you,
Yes, you of the frantic, panicked e-mails, so worried about failing. Take a deep breath and then another. Now, relax a bit. Are you going to make an A? No. But you'll be darned close, and I'm proud of you. You've been struggling with the consequences of difficult life choices, and you work hard, and you write well, and I'm proud of all that. So give yourself a pat on the back for having made it through your first semester successfully. You did it.

And you. Hoo boy, where do I start with you?
You've been a pain in my ass all semester. I really don't care if you fail to turn in papers because, hey, it's one less for me to grade in any given stack. I also don't particularly care that you show up when you show up and don't when you don't feel like it. Again, this means less work for me. I do greatly despise it when you schedule yourself for tutorial times--and then do not show up. Not once, not twice, not even three times--but consistently, even double-booking times during the last paper when worthier students would have shown up. And now, you want short-notice accommodation for testing services to take your final. Fine. Enjoy it. I highly suspect that when I am on campus next to pick up the completed exam, it will be likewise not completed. And that's fine too. Know why? Your grade is going to be the same regardless of whether you take it or not. Cheers.

And you and you,
I've enjoyed having you both in class. Different classes, but you're remarkably similar--I see the same work ethic and constant attention in class, the regular if perhaps slightly unpunctual attendance. You're neither of you the brightest ones I've ever had, but that hard work and attention to detail and the drafting process makes up for a lot. You're right--that final paper sure did have a lot less inked-in corrections on it. Congrats. You'll do me proud in your next class, I think.

And last but not l--er. Nevermind.
You never turned in a single paper over the course of the whole semester that came anywhere near meeting the assignment criteria. Your quiz results were clearly pulled out of your ass in an attempt to bluff me, and while you were present in nearly all classes and had a most pleasant demeanor, you still are failing. And you know what the kicker is? I'm disappointed. You had an awesome semester's research topic that could have yielded some fascinating papers, and if you could just channel a bit of that strong voice into more appropriate academic writing, you could have produced some great papers. Perhaps you'll do so for your next Comp 1 teacher. I hope so for his or her--and your own--sake.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's her job, I guess

I was griping to my mother about tomorrow's 8 a.m. final that I have to administer on the campus that's an hour away.

"8:00," I groused, "which means I have to be out by 7 but should probably leave more time since it's snowing." No morning person, I was primarily griping about the hour.

"And make sure you have a blanket in your car."

"OK." Cue eye rolling here.

"Do you have a blanket?"

"Yes, mom."

"And water and maybe some trail mix? You may need the calories to keep your body temperature up."

"Um... no."

"Put some in your car."

"OK, I'll have trail mix. But seriously? Water?"

"Just do it. Get a bottle from the garage."

Goodness. It's just a snowy day. I've done this before, multiple times over, thanks to a campus that wouldn't cancel for the apocalypse itself. Still, I suppose that tomorrow morning I will be sure to have everything on hand I may possibly need in the event of a breakdown, car-in-the-ditch, or snow-in scenario.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Another piece of my soul, GONE

My soul is getting more and more tarnished... Ah well. Good thing I wasn't using it for much.

In other words, I crossed to the dark side.

140 characters is an exercise in brevity. It's also quite manageable a way to capture those flitting, fleeting thoughts that go through my head over the course of a day. I'm ashamed to admit I kinda like it.

Now playing: Rise Against - Blood To Bleed
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


So... I got an e-mail from the coach of one of the athletes in my remedial writing class. He said this student had informed him that he was currently making a C in my class as finals week approaches, and could I verify this information?

Oh. Man.

I nixed several responses like "Are you freakin' kidding me?" and "He has never been on course for a C in my class" or the short, sweet, "WTF?! Seriously?!" and definitely bypassed the flippant "Oh, good one" that crossed my mind.

I settled on opening the e-mail with the more tactful, "Unfortunately, that information is NOT correct," followed by enough info to convey that this student has all but flunked already.

Now playing: Thrice - All That's Left
via FoxyTunes