August 22nd, 2005

The Semester Dawns Humid and Threatening To Rain

I have an unusual teaching schedule this semester. My undergrad course, which is -- surprise, surprise -- English 380: Literary Analysis, meets on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:30-4:45pm. I taught at 8am the past two semesters, so the late-afternoon slot requires a major shift in how I manage my energy. I'll refrain from using metaphors here that accentuate the performance aspects of teaching. Suffice it to say that I can't let myself peak too early in the day.

I was hoping to just settle down with my own writing this morning. But several students -- all ones I love to see, thank goodness -- stopped by for extended conversations. It felt good to be back in my office-hours mode, which consists of me nesting dashes inside each other until it seems like I'll never make it back to the top-level only to drop everything and dash back to the surface. At the same time, though, I recognize how important it is that I get something with which to cover the window of my office door. Anyone I want to see can make an appointment to see. For everyone else it's office hours or nothing.

The downside of my first day was the realization that I won't be entirely free of the departmental madness that has absorbed too much of time in the past. Since two of my favorite colleagues are gone this semester and the one who is back is rarely on campus, I had hoped that I could just putter along in privacy like I did in my first months at the U of A, before most people knew who I was. If today is any indication, though, I'll still be experiencing regular Michael Corleone moments. What's depressing about this is that I'll be experiencing them with people I'm less familiar with than my regular interlocutors on the faculty, requiring me to pay attention to nuances of word and deed that I can safely take for granted with those I know well.

"Wait a minute," you're saying, "shouldn't you be thinking about your first day in the classroom instead of all this extraneous activity?" To be sure, that would be the correct approach. Since the first day is never really a full-on teaching day, however, I can't help but be preoccupied with other matters. I am looking forward to my graduate course tomorrow, even if it does contain a ridiculous number of students for a seminar at that level. Freshly out of her bath, Skylar just announced that she would probably be going to graduate school. "Maybe I could be a vet. You have to go to graduate school to be a vet." Indeed. On that note I'm going to retreat into the family fold. Someday soon I promise to have something of greater substance to impart. For now, think of this blog as Pepsi Light.