Charlie Bertsch (cbertsch) wrote,
Charlie Bertsch

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First Day Back

Today was my first day back in the Department since December 23rd. Tomorrow, I write. Today was for "reconnecting," which I felt to be more important than usual, since I will be submerged in my office with the headphones on for most of the semester (except for office hours, obviously).

I didn't sleep well last night. I seem to have contracted Kim's full-moon madness. First I tried the bed, but started coughing. Then I went to the sofa in the front room, but woke up at 4am wide awake. Then I tried the bed again, to no avail. I ended up on our "classic" sofa -- the one Kim purchased with the help of her since-revealed-to-be-an-asshole friend James, back in Vallejo, before she met me -- and finally fell into deep sleep just as it was time to rise.

We got out of the house on time, amazingly. Dropping Skylar off at pre-school was the usual delight that it has been since she started Susan's class. The kids in there are learning so much. Today it was tornados and what a meterologist does. Skylar drew three great pictures with a tornado design on them, including one of her trademark rainbow-emblazoned hearts. But that's getting ahead of the tale.

After stopping for a much needed coffee and scone at Raging Sage -- the best coffee roaster we've encountered -- I dropped Kim off and parked in the garage.

I spent the first hour and a half trying to resolve an ongoing computer issue. In the process, I paid my respects to the Undergraduate Office -- Michelle, Bridget, and Laura -- and saw one of my favorite U of A students ever, Annika, who was waiting to meet with Laura. Annika was in one of the courses I taught my first semester, when I was so terribly ill with pneumonia (and most likely valley fever). She was one of those "late-bloomer" students who finally started to put it together in her 20s. I recommended her for the Honors Program. She got in and had a blast. It was one of the most functional Honors cohorts we've had, probably because many of the students weren't your typical, grade-obsessed types.

I also talked to Stephanie for a bit about the MLA and said hello to Larry when he emerged from his office. Apparently, they had both heard about my interesting "tour-guide" experience at the conference. Larry asked whether the feature would be one of those hard-on-the-MLA pieces. I told him I hoped not.

I went back to my office to work for a while, then ran into Meg Lota. She had been on the MLA program, but actually didn't attend. My reward for helping her carry a heavy rock into her office was a far-ranging conversation about Berkeley, Arizona and the niceties of administrative strategy. I like having those deeper and longer conversations from time to time. It puts me in the right frame of mind.

After doing some more work in my office, Eric stopped by to say, "Hi" and lay out his Five-Year Plan. That's one area where I really should just slavishly follow his example. Thinking about the future has its benefits. We also talked about the MLA, of course, particularly the ill-fated De Man panel. I restoked my resentment at the Mark Hansen paper in the hopes that doing so will fan the flames of my desire for recognition.

I wrote for about thirty minutes after he left, then went to see Lourdes. We had a nice talk about family, the best way of giving advice to one's children, and the problem with cooking things that set off the smoke alarm. She also helped me to solve my computer problem, which means I did manage to accomplish one of my goals for the day.

Then, after a little more writing, I was back in the Undergraduate Office, where I learned that, despite specifically requesting a classroom with a DVD player, screen, and projector unit for my English 380 course, I had been assigned one with none of the above. Because I planned my syllabus with the technology in mind, I was really alarmed. Thankfully, Michelle worked hard to get me a better classroom. The only problem is that it's a 15-minute walk from the place I park.

It was fun talking to Michelle and Bridget, despite my frustration. I wonder what it means that I generally prefer talking to staff than faculty. Someone who doesn't know me might say that I enjoy the power differential. I might say that about someone who wrote what I just did. But I honestly don't think that's the case. Maybe it's the fact that there are fewer conversational pitfalls to avoid when I talk with staff. Or it could simply be that my years at the UC Berkeley Graduate Assembly made me comfortable crossing the staff-non-staff divide -- all those years talking to Nzingha, not to mention her administrative assistants like Tara, Monica, and Shelley.

After that, it was off to pick up Kim and then Skylar. Skylar played on the mats while Kim and I watched. Then we had a light dinner at AJ's -- including my first Faygo "Rock and Rye" red creme soda, reminding me of A-Treat's version, my favorite after Little League games -- and a relaxing evening at home watching C-SPAN coverage of the Mars landing, while Skylar made a paper-and-plastic-gemstone crown. Bedtime story was the read-aloud version: Beauty and the Beast. Though, as Skylar pointed out, "her real name is 'Belle.'"

Last question of the night, as we said our parting words through Skylar's almost-shut door: "What's a hurricane?"

Not a bad day, all in all, though one full of unexpected distractions. Aren't they all?
Tags: everyday, family, friends

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