Wednesday, September 28, 2005



That sweet sensation of sinking into a soft bed.
Muscles melting
breath slowing.
Pillows and blankets; fleece sheets and the dark.
Eyes closed with relief --
the deepened, undertow tug of
slipping into a warm, cozy trance.

Or having waded through a monstrous pile
of senior research papers, 15 pages each
with outline, rough draft,
footnotes and
bibliography page.
The blessed finality of placing them
in my book bag for tomorrow,
and settling down for a few pages
of that novel before
my eyes begin to blur and close.

Or at the end of a 20 mile day
the pins and needles starting in my toes
and working past my ankles to
my calves.
No pack on now, but
the pressure on my shoulders and hips
reminds me of its weight.
Hips resting on hard board,
surrounded by snores and mice and that musty, funky smell
of hikers.
Somehow, drifting off to a place
where nothing hurts.

Isn't that an unknown country?

So Much to Do

It has come to my attention that I have been a BAD blogger of late. So, in place of posting a witty statement about my stress level, I'm going to substitute a list of things I need to get done this week:

Prepare research presentation for today's faculty meeting

Re-read materials for tomorrow's classes

Plan for tomorrow's classes

Grade a shitload of papers before tomorrow's classes

Meet with a couple of students individually who are struggling in said classes

Finalize paperwork for the TWO search committees I'm chairing

Write a review of a book I haven't finished reading

Finish my multigenre manuscript and send it out to a journal (with fingers crossed)

Read and respond to a grad student's thesis

Make plane reservations for Christmas trip

Prepare presentations for NCTE (late November) and NRC (early December)

I could go on, but I've got some things to do . . .

All of this is not to have anyone feel sorry for me, but just to say that blogging has to take a low priority for the moment. I do love my job! More posts later . . .

Friday, September 16, 2005

Haircut (just a trim)

I really dislike and abhor going to get haircuts. There is something nauseating about sitting in front of a mirror, staring at myself -- and what is it with that lighting? you know? the kind that makes you look like a corpse? -- while wrapped up to the chin in a black drape, and making forced conversation with someone who couldn't give two shits about me and about whom I couldn't give two shits either.

In spite of this horror, I did actually get a haircut today. I've been working up to it for several weeks, feeling the crispy ends of my hair and thinking "You really need to get a haircut. Soon."

It actually wasn't that bad. The hairdresser wasn't in the least bit creepy (unlike the guy I had last time, who seemed to get way too much enjoyment out of combing out my hair. Eeeew.) and as soon as she saw my turtle tattoo, we were off to the races chatting about turtles and frogs we had bought, known, loved, and lost.

Not to mention ex-husbands, but that is a story not worth getting into.

Anyway, I'm spending my time now feeling the ends of my hair with a satisfied smile. No longer crispy.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Getting to "No"

My application for a small grant was frowned on by the grant-gods and trashed. That's the way it goes, I understand, and I'll get over it. (Voice in the back of my mind says "I'll Deal.") I haven't read the reviewers' comments yet, and I'm not sure if I want to. I'm planning on doing the research anyway; I'll be using my own money to do it.

I also had an idea for a sabbatical today -- one that involves lots of travel in order to build networks of English teachers in my state and to understand how teachers teach.

So, in other words, the best way to handle this letdown is to immerse myself in other work and to keep on doing the things I do well (one of which is apparently NOT grant writing!).

I have to admit, though, I'm feeling a bit used.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Maturity (or the lack of it)

I am beginning to think that it was easier to be patient with high school students (back when I taught high school) than it is to be patient with the college students that I currently teach. I have found myself -- this week -- coming close to losing my temper during class, when my college students speak/act in ways that either offend me or with which I disagree.

Is that just because I'm getting older?

I certainly expect my college students to exhibit a higher level of maturity than I did my high school students. Perhaps it is the lack of fulfillment of this expectation that is bothering me.

Or maybe I'm just overworked.

Either way, I have to deal with it. (This, by the way, is the newest saying that Red and I got from our backpacking trip. I.E. Question: "What if it rains?" Answer: "We'll deal with it."

"Dealing with it" in this case will involve two fronts
1. Handle my anger constructively (translation: work out like a demon)
2. Confront, privately, those students who are causing me grief.
3. Spend as much time as possible with my wonderful spouse, whose presence is soothing to me.

There! all done. Now for the real work.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hiking Done, and Now for School

Having successfully hiked a 230-mile section of the AT through Massachusetts and Vermont (and having lost 10 pounds in the process -- YEAH ME!) I am back at school and in the thick of teaching classes. I'm basically teaching two classes this semester -- both English methods classes. The morning class is focusing on teaching writing at the secondary school level and is HUGE (for me, I mean). 31 students. Plus I'm co-teaching with a grad student, which is a new experience for me. So far we've had one incredibly hectic day, in which we were only able to get through half of what we had planned, and one lovely day (today) in which I was totally impressed with my students' work ethic and depth of thought. I do really love my job.

In the afternoons, I teach another English methods classes which focuses on teaching literature. This one is smaller, populated by my seniors who will begin their student teaching in the spring, and my post-bacs who already have degrees and are working on certification and getting some graduate credit. These folks are great as well, and so far things are going smoothly with that class. I'm sure some personality issues will crop up (they always do!) but it hasn't happened yet and that makes me happy.

I still have to come up with an essential question for my writing class, and I'm wavering between two:
1. How can I do a better job of merging my hiking self and my teaching self?
2. How can I do a better job of working with mentor teachers in the schools?

Neither of those questions is phrased exactly as I want it to be, but I'll keep working on it. I have until Tuesday.

Plus, the UW Cowboys play Florida on Saturday (can you say odds are against us?) and I'm excited about football season opening.

I know, I know, I'm an English teacher; why am I interested in football? I can't help it.