Mid-Semester Murkiness

Wow. Quite a posting blackout, huh? I haven't really had anything to say for the past week -- I've been keeping my head down, trying to play catch-up where grading and class prep is concerned (and failing miserably).

My mood, however, has been steadier during the past week, which is a really good thing. Less ambivalence, more genuine laughter.

Over the years I've streamlined my courses so that I only grade what's absolutely necessary and I use a check/check minus system for the small assignments; and yet, frustratingly, I find myself faced -- every semester -- with a backlog of grading. And it's not for want of focus at work. I've been more focused than ever this semester. My friend and colleague A. jumped ship and went to another campus, so he's not around for me to pester when I feel like avoiding work -- and I'm not even sure I would have resorted to that old habit this semester, if he was around, simply because of the sheer desperation I feel whenever I'm in the office. I use every single minute wisely, I know it, I can say it because I haven't in other semesters and this semester that, at least, is true. And yet there's just not enough time to finish things.

And poor L., my little girl. She wants to do everything. She hears about every after school activity and possible play date with her friends and she wants to do it all -- and I see myself in her enthusiasm and I want to squash it (benevolently, not malevolently), because I know she's setting herself up for a lifetime of craziness. I mean, she's probably headed for that anyway because she's my daughter, we share the same genes, and who knows what kind of damage I'm doing to her psyche by being her psychotic, frantic mother  . . . but I want to warn her: you can't do everything.

And yet, perhaps most frustrating to me, is that I've said NO to so many things this semester, significant-work-load things. I've bowed out where I should have bowed out, and now I have a very streamlined committee membership under my belt and not too many commitments where college service is concerned. I'm quite consciously NOT doing everything. 

Hell, A. and I haven't been able to meet up once this semester to discuss our writing, which was an old tradition and will, hopefully, be restored once our schedules are similar again (if they become similar again) in the spring semester. And so . . . I'm less social, I spend less time on my own writing, I spend less time on frivolous activities (I do surf effbook at night, when I feel brain dead, and no, I'm not going to beat myself up for doing that), and I spend more dedicated time to grading and class prep and what little committee work I've retained.

And yet I'm still, still, still barely keeping my head above water. Part of me suspects I need to teach more literature classes -- and not four writing classes. But my degree is in creative writing, and the department considers creative writing classes to be literature classes . . . so when I sign up for them, I'm signing on for a hell of a work load. (Because my creative writing classes involve just as much work as a beginner writing course. Intro to creative writing is a beginner writing course -- just a different kind of writing than comp.)

I suppose if I was teaching at least two true literature classes like most of my colleagues I might not feel this way . . . but I don't know if that's going to be possible, or even the way to go . . .

Anyway. I'm beginning to drift, and it's becoming late, and there's a sink of dishes to clear, children to feed and dress for school, and recycling to take out to the curb before I leave for work this morning. So I'll stop here, and hope that somehow, over the next few days, I find the ability to just suck it up and plow through those papers and make everyone, students and myself, a little happier. 

That would be a nice way to approach mid-term, eh?


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