Wednesday, August 20, 2003

First Day

Well I don't know what all the fuss is about. The first day of school is usually relatively stress-free, at least, as far as the classes I've been teaching my career thus far. It's too early to tell, but meeting my classes and running through the usual shebang of rules, regs and policies went over pretty well. Half the battle was having the next six weeks more or less planned out, which puts a spring in my step like you wouldn't believe. I only made one slip--Gentle Reader can judge for herself whether it was Freudian or not:
Me: And your name is?
Student: (xxxxx). (I don't want to embarass her, if you can dig that.)
Me: Great. Now tell me something about yourself so I can remember you better.
Student: Well, I'm kinda shy...
Me: Why? Were you abused as a child or something?
The words were right out of my mouth before I realized I said them, and I felt a slow, sinking feeling in my gut. Oh shit, I think, I just blew it on the first day. Thankfully enough, the girl wasn't embarassed, the class got to see me put my foot in my mouth for the first time (whew, that's over with), and within a matter of thirty seconds, it was business as usual.

The news reporting class is pretty full, and two kids were set to drop it before I explained what it was all about. Then they were interested, and wanted to stay. Cool. A full load in there, which is nice.

And I'm going to abstain about the new prep for now. I will point out that, when I'm not a hundred percent sure about the assignments, you can guarantee some fun times are ahead for me and the class overall.

One big hurdle (I said it before, but damn it, I'll say it again) is keeping myself organized. I'm using my plan book this year. I happen to be gifted with an incredible memory for the mundane: movie lines, release dates for Led Zepplin albums, you name it, it all stays upstairs and will stay up there until I'm old and grey, unable to remember to wipe my own ass after a healthy bowel movement. No matter--I'll be able to give the nurse giving me my sponge bath a play-by-play of the Dennis Hopper/Christopher Walken scene in True Romance while she's working. Part of this memory ability has always been strong in the short term department. If I have an appointment, or something is due, odds are I usually remember it without having to write it down. But freeing up that part of my mind by writing it all down (and I mean everything, from remembering to send out a staff e-mail regarding news stories for the year to coordinating my paper load with my dentist visits) allows me to concentrate on a few other things.

I also think it's meet to point out that this is probably the least stressed I've been at the beginning of school. Whether it holds or not is another matter. Were I a religious man, I'd be praying for it round the clock. But a different, far more wiser part of me points out that half the battle is attitude, and if I remember that I'm working for a living, it makes me enjoy some semblance of a life that much better.

So what's that life tonight?

It was going to be reading Davies and taking some practice GRE tests. It may still be so. Or I may read the rest of that Ellison book I've had lying around. I read a couple more stories last night, and they were well worth the time. The future of America's youths can wait a few hours, after all.

Monday, August 04, 2003


Well, it's August. Damnation. Time to get my thumb out of my ass and prepare to put it back in my ear in order to block out the whining I'll undoubtedly hear in a matter of weeks: "Why are we doing this?" "This is dumb." "You stink." "I want to go home."

And that's just my colleagues. The students are even worse.

All of my vows last week to 1) do work and 2) exercise were nothing short of futile. But I'm all about making smart choices these days, so I'll most likely hit the gym tomorrow; work today and every day this week, even if only for a few hours, and make some calls to set up paper distribution schedules for next (this) semester. That way I'll have a few less headaches along the way. I've also got to write for application materials for doctoral programs; Dr. Youbet told me he'd be happy to write a letter for me (as in "I'd be happy to slam you in a quick 30-word paragraph and tell the whole world what I really think of you"). That means I've got to write the other two profs and get them to change the date on the letters they've already written. With a little foresight, and a fair amount of success on the GRE class and test, my application materials could be sent out by October...November at the latest. Plus, with applying to seven schools instead of one (a la last year), my entrance is almost assured. Almost. Now if I can just find my Idiot's Guide to Learning What You're Supposed to Already Know, I'd be in gravy.

Haven't had a solid drinking binge at home in a while, and Matt's drinking excursions are starting to inspire me (God help me). I just read Michael Cunningham's The Hours and am dying to see the movie; I've also got a couple of episodes of Twin Peaks left to watch.

Oh yeah, I'm supposed to be working. I figure a rough six-week outline for the advanced classes should be a good start. Tomorrow I'll go to the office or the library and start reviewing the Honors stuff.

I do have to keep in mind that, even though the kids are doing layout next week, it's hardly full-time employment until the 18th. Them's the words.