Monday, April 30, 2012

And the countdown begins...

In the words of Spike from this show, "this quarter is OVER!" Not in the sense that it's literally "over" but in the sense that this quarter is so not cool anymore. And it must be said with emphasis. Not some valley girl or early grunge statement, but with emphatic agitation and feet stomping. So I say, "Dear Freshman Stus, it's time for me to move on to the next 'cool' thing. I can't even really tell you goodbye because that might imply that I will miss this class. No. To those of you, those like 4 of you who put forth some effort, I wish you the best but you are so OVER! [stomps foot]"

It's pathetic because there are actually only four days left that I'm actually teaching them, including today. Oh, there are about 9 days left of class, but I'm only actually going to instruct them for four out of the next nine. Friday their essays are due, and I'm giving them the day off not for them and all their hard work, but so that I can grade the essays and finish them before noon so that I don't have to think about them. My prediction is that a good portion of them are going to be Fs because they'll be well short of the actual 3 page minimum page requirement. I have already made a deal with myself that essays that are 75 and below (which I think will be most of them at this point) will not receive comments. Most of them, I'm assuming, based on their initial draft work, will fail. I will not spend time commenting on them since they have to meet with me if they want to revise the essay anyway, I'm not going to waste my time. The following Friday will be to go over the take home final; I'm making them show up mid week for the last week of classes and then the last day I've canceled both the Friday classes, and I'm going to sit at home and grade.

As far as the lit classes are concerned, I'm going to miss them, as I usually do. But I'm done prepping for the quarter. The stuff for the remainder of the quarter is stuff that I've taught A LOT this year, and if you count multiple sections of the same class, the last couple of stories I would say have been taught upwards around 8 times already this year. That's surprisingly not true for even the earlier stuff in my field. And these are very teachable stories, and ironically, though so far out of my field, the easiest things for me to teach. I only needed really to reread Cather. And I might should skim Faulkner if I have time, but I'm not going to lose sleep over it.

I'm pretty sure that I can knock out most of the lit analyses during my office hours this morning. We'll see. Again, I'm not losing sleep over it... anymore.

I'm pretty sure it's this attitude as to why I got wasted Friday night. And why, despite my best intentions and knowledge, I seem to need to check out of the quarter about once a week on a major scale. I know it's self-sabotage and avoidance and a vicious cycle, but I think this class just reminds me of my freshman at Fancy Town, and I don't throw this around lightly, but seriously, it's like a mild PTSD*--coupled on top of the husband being away from drill--which still, 2 years later, every time he leaves for drill, it feels like he's leaving for Afghanistan. Since Afghanistan, his absence (even if it's to spend the weekend 2 hours away) = combat and war in my head. It's getting better, but I can't just think of him as off at drill. So there's that. 

*I don't use this lightly (particularly given the events at the start of the quarter), but that my writing classes at FT College were *that* traumatic. Insomnia, depression, crying, feeling sick every Monday morning. I am *almost* at that point right now, and this class makes me think of my first writing classes there. I can't not associate the two, which makes my attitude really really bad. Thankfully there are only three weeks left.

I have only four priorities for the next three weeks:
  • Workouts
  • Meal prep and healthy eating
  • Sleep
  • Conference paper
As I was too tired to actually work out this morning, and have a stomach ache in anticipation of the freshman class this morning, rather than go back to bed, I did stay up and read for the conference paper. I got a good 1.25 hours in this morning. So, I just have to make daily checklists for all four of those things.

Also, we have a totally kick ass Friday planned. And with any luck, also a kick ass Saturday planned, so if I can hang on for the week, I will be duly rewarded for the weekend.

Now, to go face my day.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grrr. another Funk. go away Funks!!

Argh, after all my planning, all my whatever this quarter, I cannot, for my life, bring myself to care about the final weeks of the quarter. I am having a hard time really caring about the comp class. I know, it's totally terrible. totally and completely terrible. As it turns out, I wanted so little to have to work yesterday that I just got wasted Friday night. And of course I woke up Saturday in tears because I did exactly what I didn't want to do, but I know why I drank as much as I did and why I didn't go home when I was still ahead--I just did not want to spend my Saturday working and working on the comp class at that. I technically have three weeks left because we don't have an official finals week. I just seriously could care less. Even though I felt fine by about 3:30, I still didn't bother to work or grade. I'll have to leave the g'parents' early today in order to catch up on my reading. I hate to say that I.JUST.DONT.CARE. Mostly because I just don't know what else to do for them.

Case in point. Of the 18 drafts that I received (there are more than 18 students in the class) for peer review, for a three page paper, 2 came close to a full draft, only one turned in a full draft. About 5 of them were a paragraph only. Seriously. A paragraph for a peer review draft! A fucking paragraph! And then about 5 turned in a page. One fucking page. I guess that's better than a paragraph, but are you fucking kidding me? 7 weeks into the quarter, and this is what you bring to the class and what you bring to me for feedback? So I'm assuming then that about half the class is going to fail this next essay. And that half the class is going to be in my office for feedback for their revisions. I have already decided that if it's lower than a C, I'm not commenting on the essay at all. Because given the amount of effort put into the rough drafts, I'm not wasting my time to be frank.

Rather I just spent all day yesterday totally feeling sorry for myself. It's quite pathetic. This quarter has just been marked by death and bad news, friends moving... I guess that's a lot to deal with in 7 weeks in addition to a class that's just full of a bunch of freaking duds.

I'm done. I want the quarter to be over. And I'm finding that I'm having a hard time actually getting psyched up for the summer quarter. I just don't care. I'm tired. I'm tired of freshman. I know that's terrible to say.

Plus I have this damn conference paper that I need to write. I'm not behind on classwork yet, but I'm getting there. This should have been a weekend where I was able to get things done because the husband if off at drill, but that's totally not the case. It's been a waste.

I hate being in a funk. I'm totally in a funk.

Despite the few ups that I've had this quarter (although to be fair, I always feel better after I totally just rant here on the blog), I just can't break this funk for more than a few days at a time. It's frustrating. I'm just frustrated, to the max. With everything right now. Myself, my teaching, my scholarship. Yes, I know two days ago I was all "yay for getting to concentrate on me!! woo-hoo!!" but I'm not feeling that this morning.

So, I think what I might do before the g'parents is just shower and then plow through everything I can before I head out over there. It means that I won't get the work out in today or not until later, but I think I might feel better if I get the school monkey off my back rather than delaying the inevitable.

ugh. Sorry for the negativity, but I'm hoping the vent helps me feel better.

And I have a very cute mutt whining to go outside. I can't resist that faces.

Friday, April 27, 2012

On the Schedule

Well, I don't think going back to this reading in the morning, working out in the afternoon is going to work for me. At least not while I'm basically trying to detox myself from gluten and dairy as I feel crappy and tired right now.

After like 10 days of working out in the morning and then going back to working out in the afternoon, I have come to miss working out in the morning and being done with it. And I am now willing to get up at 5 am and forgo the coffee in order to get to the work out first thing so that I can get all three workouts in before class. I really think this is the best option for me. And then I can just read in the afternoons while the husband does his homework. It's making me even grumpier NOT to work out in the morning. And this morning I got all three workouts in.  And it felt glorious. I'm still really freaking grumpy today (probably because I know I have all those freshman essays to comment on and I have spent class time thus far blogging rather than confronting the essays), but at least I know that after my meeting today, I don't have to go work out for 90 minutes. I liked that week that I had the weekday afternoons open to get stuff done. Or nap. Nothing wrong with napping. But, I have rediscovered how good it feels to work out first thing. I have reprogrammed myself to need that rather than doing it in the afternoon.

So from tomorrow to next Saturday, the new schedule is as follows:
  • S-Th. Work out first thing in the morning. Really push to get all three workouts in on the days all three are scheduled.
  • Friday is off day.
  • M-Th in the afternoons: 1-2 hours toward reading/writing/research. 
  • Saturday mornings as always: prep work for the week.
I'll report back and let you know how the new schedule works out. 

On Eating

I am a Grumpalupogus these last couple of days.

Here's why, in part.

I really want chocolate and pizza. Like in a bad, grumpy way.

Why not have it you might say.

Because I'm trying really really really freaking hard to go for a solid 30 days without gluten or dairy. In any form. Including beer.

I was reading that the first two weeks GF is hard. You feel like crap because it takes the body 12-15 days to process out the gluten. So if I had pizza, then that's another two weeks to fix that.

And I feel like crap right now. I'm grumpy. I'm tired. I kind of have a short fuse right now. The first three days I felt awesome. I mean like hard core totally fantastic. And now, I guess as I adjust, the lack of gluten and M&Ms is starting to get to me. I hear all of this is normal though. And if I can make it through next week, then week three should be when the energy picks up, which is perfect timing because that's getting close to the end of the quarter.

If I could find a GF & dairy free pizza right now, dear lord.

And what I wouldn't give for a fucking industrial size bag of coconut M&Ms.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Just stuffs...

I am happy to report that I'm feeling better! yay!

Of course, I still have yet to crack open a book for research. But tomorrow morning--I start then. Look, if I can get in say 3 hours of research this week, that would be spectacular. Okay, that's the goal. At least 3 hours.

My freshman are vampiric. Seriously. They are sucking the life out of me it feels like. I'm trying right now to focus on the ones who are attentive and doing the work. But I've got to figure out what changes I want/need to make for the summer class soon. I hope the summer class is not full of duds. That's going to be a looooooooong freaking six weeks then. Yikes. I think I might just keep it all pop culture oriented. That seems to get them talking. That might make the summer easier, too.

I don't want to spend anymore time talking about them because I can't make myself feel bad for how terrible about half the class is doing. I did at first, but then I realized that I've held up my end and then some. I've given feedback in the class and one-on-one with conferences. We've done peer review. They've had ample in class writing time with structured activities to help them write their essays. Detailed instructions/expectations about EXACTLY what I'm looking for to help them make the best grade possible. And yet, half the class has ignored all of this. Or failed to show up for conferences. Or just didn't turn in a second essay. Or changed only verb tenses and called that a revision. And not even all the verbs in the sentences. Just fixing the five "ing" phrases and two sentences of passive voice and calling it a revision and blowing off everything we talked about (in class and one-on-one) about content, organization, development. I feel like I've done everything but write the paper for them. And maybe that's the problem. In any case, I cannot bring myself to feel like I'm the one who failed them because the half that followed instructions, showed up for the conference, used the in class writing--improvement on their essays. Every single one. Clearly then it's them and not me, right?


I feel like this blog has become a health/fitness/work out journal more than anything else right now. I hope it's not boring you. I think it's because I'm finally at a point in my life, after 8 long years, where I cannot devote a lot of time and energy to fixing these issues. I mean, I do very much long for the day when I'm in maintenance mode and do not have to work out for 90+ minutes six to seven days a week. That might be nice to maintain because I *want* to, not because I *have* to. Yes, I know I have that conference paper and it's not going to write or research itself and I have exactly one month to do this and I've been adopting a very "I'll start tomorrow" attitude (to which I hear Apollo Creed in the background yelling "There is no tomorrow! There is no tomorrow! What's the matter with you man?"). Right now, with the exception of that freshman class which annoys me and drains me, I feel pretty secure with my teaching. Either it's experience or location or a combination of both, but it doesn't stress me out like it did the last two years. I don't have the energy expenditure there. Money always drains me, but knowing that I have six weeks of summer teaching helps there, and I'm sure come June I'll be a basket case again about how we're going to make it through September. And while I actually need to get the things written that need to be written and researched rather quickly, that is within the next month, I have a plan for what I want to work on over the summer and I am in a decent position now, actually a fairly strong position with regards to my progress toward tenure. So I'm not stressed out about that right now either. And I have good mentors and friends here who answer my questions honestly and are helping me navigate things, and who want to help make sure that I get tenure. It's not like survivor island here. For them here it's not just that no tenure means they lose colleagues; it means they lose their friends for the most part, too. So right now, this is not something that is stressing me out. Maybe it should stress me out more, but right now it doesn't.

Right now, what I finally have time to focus on is my health and stuff. It's been an endless stop and start with the health and fitness. Since January, this is the first time that I've been this consistent with taking care of myself. Okay. last month was a bit of a dud.

And as I've been blogging about for years, I'm still battling all that weight that I started to gain 8 freaking years ago! 8 years! And for at least 4 I've been blogging incessantly about it it seems like.

Right now I'm really enjoying indulging in myself, in my health, in my well-being. The last time I really got to do that was when I got fired from Asshat Insurance company. I had time to take care of myself because I was about to get married and because I didn't have a soul sucking job killing me slowly. But now, I go to work every day but still get to focus on taking care of myself. Of course obviously this benefits the husband who gets lovely meals out of the deal and a happier, saner person to be around. And when he sees me more active, he gets more active. It's a win-win-win!

And it is cyclical. When I feel better, I'm more productive. I was crazy productive in February, and that was the best I had felt in 20 years. And I know I wasn't feeling great because I was getting my grading done--I was getting my grading done because I felt great.

There's definitely something in the air with blog mission shifting, eh?

I just think that right now, I feel okay where I'm at. I mean, aside from a couple of relatively minor professional issues, I think I'm doing okay.

I think, too, if you guys aren't going to get too bored with it, I may start blogging more about my specific health goals and my specific fitness goals. And my "diet." that is my food intake. Or not. I say that's what I'll do, but who the hell knows if I'll follow through with that chronicle, but maybe I'll talk more about food and post some of my new yummy dinners.

Maybe it won't be too boring.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Stupid Quarter & Let's try something different or rather, return to what was previously working

I need for this quarter to end.

I hate to say it, but I dislike my freshman class this quarter. There are about 5 out of 20 who are okay, who do the work, who participate, who take the class seriously. But the vibe in the class as a whole is terrible. I'm really hoping that about half of them are gone by the drop day. Seriously. I don't know, even with the grades that half the class has, if that will be the case. Sigh.

I think that's why I have such trouble sleeping lately. Or one of the reasons. I do not like getting up and going to this class. At all. But there's nothing that I can do about that. I've got three more weeks left with them.

The other MWF class is a dream. I adore them. I wish all three classes were like them.

The TR class is getting better. I lit a fire under their asses and most of them jumped to not get burned, so that class might pick up for the remainder of the quarter.

I need for this quarter to end.


Okay, so as you all know, I'm fond of making schedules and stuff. Since this quarter has just been a dud, I've been struggling. Maybe the positive take away is that instead of throwing in the towel this quarter, I keep making adjustments and trying to find something that works without just giving up totally.

I keep going back to February because February was a great month for me. I felt amazing. Amazing I tell you. I was on top of grading (rarely did I get behind in February). I was on top of my workouts (I know because I have the calendar). And I think February was the cleanest my diet has been. And by "diet" I mean my food intake. I felt the best I had felt in 20 years, literally. And then the new quarter started. And things started to go downhill. And I feel like I've been trying to get back on track since then.

What did I do right in February? For starters, I didn't have a freshman class. FWIW, there's seriously something to that life energy suck that this particular group of freshman has brought me. Plus the additional work of drafts and grading and just the energy it takes to teach freshman. It seems like freshman classes absorb every free moment and the work I have to expend for the freshman takes up about 70% of my academic life. And it makes me resentful. And resent saps my energy. So there's that.

I have tried for the past two weeks to work out in the mornings before class. That has been somewhat successful. The idea was that I work out in the a.m. so that way I can have the afternoons free for whatever I need to do, primarily research/reading/writing. I have a conference paper to write, and I have absolutely nothing for it except the abstract. And that was the most off the cuff abstract I've written. There's nothing in the wings to back it up. The problem with the a.m. workouts is that it has not helped me accomplish anything but working out in the morning which means I get up earlier. It also has actually cut back on my workouts, too. Instead of doing the three parts to my workout, most days now I only get one part in, sometimes two. This ironically has affected my energy level negatively. I don't do the other part of the work out in the afternoon, nor do I actually read or do anything really. Not even clean. Usually I come home, have a beer, and watch t.v. Counterproductive to the max.

Also, the kind of workouts I was doing in February were slightly different. clearly I was getting more out of it. I've been doing other things for the last month, and while I've been able to stick with it, I've ignored all the other parts of my work out. The stuff I was doing in February left me energized and feeling good. The stuff right now? Exhausted, sapped, drained. So, I return to my regularly scheduled programing this afternoon. The only upside to any of this is at least I've not gained any weight. I've managed to lose weight at a snail's pace, but at least that part of the pattern hasn't returned. I'm not back at square one. I have to give myself kudos for that.

My diet--since spring break has taken a turn for the worse. The gluten, the grains, the dairy... What the hell am I doing to myself. I'm sluggish. I'm unfocused. I'm exhausted. All.the.time. I guess I'm at that age where indulgence does nothing for me but make me feel like shit. And I indulge because I feel like shit. Plus, both the husband and I have been plagued by some sort of low grade depression since the start of spring quarter, so the cycle is just perpetuating. Bad feelings = bad eating = bad feeling = not wanting to work out = bad feeling = slacking on work = bad feelings...

So here's what we're going to try this week.

On MWF, rather than getting up super early, I'm going to get up at a time that allows me to do reading/writing for the conference paper. So 1.25 hours of work MWF morning. (This actually means I get to sleep in for an hour compared to the last two weeks). Workouts MWF afternoon.

TR--I'd have to keep getting up at 5 if I want to do work. But since it's an earlier day, work out after office hours then read/research from 3:30-5:00. That's almost 7 hours a week for the conference paper and for the damn article I have to write that's due the same time as the conference.

I think that might be manageable. I'll report back to let you know how it goes! But I feel better about this plan.

I also have all the meals planned for the week as well. That helps tremendously, too. That's another thing I hadn't been doing since February--weekly meal planning. It makes a difference.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sad Week

This week thus far has been a legitimately crappy week. I feel like I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but my complaint isn't like the week before--stupid issues with scheduling, a dense boss, etc.

A former colleague from Fancy Town U dropped suddenly this weekend of a massive heart attack. I guess the landlord found hir dead. I wasn't particularly close to said colleague, but ze was always kind and supportive of me during my time in Fancy Town, and I guess I feel more bad for not being there for my former colleagues during this time. Ze was loved by the students, and I think the thing that has me most out of sorts is something former super awesome colleague said on the phone: "can you imagine what it must be like to have your professor die right before graduation?"

Even though I didn't say so, why yes, I can.

And perhaps this has finally gotten me to the grief stage of my diss chair killing himself 10 days before my defense and a month before graduation. Up until this week really, even though it's been years, I've still always been rather angry with him for it and dismissive of suicide in general because of my anger with my former prof. And then one of the husband's soldiers committed suicide in early March (the system failed him--he was majorly depressed and suffered from severe PTSD. He was at the VA just about every day for years yelling, literally, for people to help him). And now this death. Perhaps this has triggered some grief issues that had been previously ignored and not dealt with because it seems to me that since I'm not there and hadn't kept in touch with that colleague that it should not be affecting me quite like this.

I'm completely out of sorts. I'm mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted this week. And I know I might actually feel better if I actually got to grading those damn freshman essays I've had for almost a week now, but I've also been reading essays all week for writing contests, and dammit, I'm tired of reading essays. Seriously. I'm probably mildly depressed because of all of this because I've been vacillating all week between wanting to sleep all the time and not being able to sleep at all, which is probably also why I'm tired and emotionally exhausted as well. I got a good eight hours of sleep last night, but I could totally go back to bed and sleep all the rest of the day today, too. Unfortunately I can't because I have a meeting at 3. Gag. I can't really complain about the meeting. I have so few. As it is I'm cutting my office hours short today so that I can go home and work out before my meeting. I know, it may seem counter intuitive to work out when I just said that I could feasibly go home and sleep all day because I'm so tired. But working out will make me feel better. It will wake me up and not leave me groggy like a nap will, and it will also just about ensure that I sleep well tonight. Plus I so need the endorphin rush from the work out actually to get me out of my funk.

I will also try to grade at least 5 essays today, actually during this hour of of my office hours. I don't have to comment on them really because there will be no revision opportunity. And if they want to know why they made the grade they did, they can come see me about it. But I don't have the energy to actually comment on them. And it's not going to matter really to most of this group either. And I feel like I'll probably feel better if I get some of them done.

Plus, it's a beautiful day outside today and I feel like if I get outside for a little bit, even if it's only for a quick run, I might feel better. It's been so dreary the past couple of days, some sunlight might do me some good.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

RBOC: Feeling Pretty Not Bad Edition!

Headachey and crampy this morning. But that's all the negativity I have for you.

Here are some good things from the remainder of the week:
  • Graded every single last bit of the midterms--take home and in-class. This involved spending the whole of yesterday afternoon grading (the husband was doing some extra credit for his psych class, so I was home alone anyway), but I pushed through because the thought of having to do it this weekend was even more aggravating than spending a Friday afternoon grading.
  • Even though I said I wasn't going to grade at home, this is only the second time this quarter that I've graded work at home. 
  • Not only did I get the midterms graded (about 62 take home and 68 in-class--yes, like six people took the in class one but didn't bother to turn in the take home one), but I got all the grades for the quarter thus far calculated and entered into the spreadsheet. Voila'! I'm halfway to finals!
  • Since I graded all the midterm stuff, I decided that I'm not even going to look at the freshman essays. Those are being reserved for office hours. I picked them up yesterday. They can have them back Friday. They're final drafts anyway, and they're not revisable, so there's no time crunch here for those. 
  • Last night I went to a "dinner theatre" dinner party. The host wrote a play. The host had a notable director in from a foreign country. A group of us were selected to read through the play--the play's very first read through. It was a very very lovely night. I really very much enjoyed it.
  • I may finally be back on track with my health/fitness goals. Although it's hard to feel like one is making progress when one is so bloated one looks 3 mos. pregnant. Seriously. Last night when I showed my husband my distended belly, he involuntarily burst out laughing and exclaimed "holy crap!" We were pissed that April Fool's had already passed since our families are both clammering for us to have kids, that my bloat is so bad that it seriously would have made some horribly mean April Fool's bump pictures seem totally real. Like it's THAT bad. Thankfully I have nothing planned this weekend.
  • Oh, yes, Health and Fitness. I'm forgoing my measurements until next week after the bloat leaves and the "lady time" is over. But I did have some good days this week! I keep a calendar on the fridge where I record my workouts and then cross off the days to keep me honest, so I can actually see the workouts I've accomplished. And this week has a row of Xs! It looks so pretty! It really helps. Especially on the days when I want to really punk out. I look at all the Xs and think, "oh man, I don't want to break that row until the rest day. Crap." And then I usually work out and feel better for it. But there's the other great thing about this week--I worked out twice this week in the morning before class! Over the four day break, three of the four days I worked out before I started to do anything else. Well, okay, after I journaled and had a couple of cups of coffee. But I was usually done by about 10 or so. And I did that for three days. I loved it! So on Tuesday by the time it was 11 am and I hadn't worked out yet, I started to get really grumpy again. So Wednesday morning I worked out and wasn't grumpy! Then Thursday I was grumpy again until I worked out. Yesterday morning, two workouts before class, and then I got all that grading done in the afternoon! It was a miracle. Next week I'm going to keep working on that. It's so much better for me when I can do that. And I was in such a good mood when I got to campus. And each day I get a to the work out a little bit earlier. Each day I need a little less wake up time, so eventually I think I might be able to get all the workouts in MWF mornings and 2/3 of them in on TR mornings.
  •  It is frustrating because my body hasn't caught up with my fitness. I've replaced a lot of fat with muscle, but the scale is moving painfully slow. But I feel so good, so I have to remember that it will eventually start melting off at some point as I keep cleaning up my diet. There are things I really really need to cut back on or eliminate almost completely because they are the reasons the "lady time" is so particularly awful.
  • Saturdays will be my rest day for the work outs. That way I can focus on reading, prepping, and cleaning so that Saturday evenings and Sundays can be enjoyable. :)
  • This morning I'm going to read for a little bit of pleasure first. Enjoy my coffee while I do so. Then I'll prep for the week and then clean. That's it. That's my Saturday. And even with the cleaning, it sounds like a fine Saturday to me!
  • It feels so good not to be angry three days in a row! I think much of that then the last couple of weeks is due to both depression and raging out of whack hormones obviously. Oddly, this makes me feel better. I was afraid it was something like serious depression. Although PMS is a bitch, at least this round is over. 
  • Now, to enjoy this beautiful day!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Better Mood?

Wow, it seems to be a rollercoaster of sorts over in these parts here between my anger/angst and feelings of serenity. Perhaps it's time to go back on the meds till I get a handle on thing? Who knows. It's a sure sign of either depression, PMS, or both. In any case, it's wreaking havoc on me. And I don't want this place to be such a negative space. But I guess all that negativity, or a large portion of it is academic related, so oh well.

Anyway, yesterday, I came home and took a nap. Turns out that was just what I needed! It's the simplest things that make the biggest differences! I had already worked out in the morning before class (something that didn't happen this morning because it's too much of a rush to do so on TR mornings, but it looks like on MWF mornings it's going to start happening), so I didn't have to work out when I came home. The husband cleaned the kitchen, did his homework, and then cooked me dinner. I spent the afternoon sleeping and reading stuff for fun! Turns out, that was a great idea! I know I have grading and stuff to do, but I'm trying really hard to be protective of my time here at home. Because next week, for sure and for real!! is when I add the research time blocks to my calendar!!  Especially if I get into the habit of getting the MWF workouts done in the morning, then I have large blocks of time in the afternoon on those days to get that stuff done. Even on TRs if I work out when I get home, I have time in the afternoons for that. And I really have to start working on that article and that conference paper. I need to do the research for the conference paper. Right now, I'm refusing to grade at home. I refuse to bring that stuff home with me unless absolutely necessary. And I have plenty of office hours during the week in which to get that stuff done. And I don't have legions of students (or even a trickle for that matter) coming to see me yet, so there's no reason for me to bring any of it home, honestly.

Thankfully today I just give midterms. Tomorrow I take up essays and give a midterm. I think in the freshman class we're going to watch something. So I have plenty of time to ease into a new routine and start adding the research this coming week.

With any luck, I'll be motivated today and get the bulk of the take home midterm exams graded while the students take their in-class exam and during my office hours. So the goal by 11:00 is to:
  • Finish the TR take home midterm exams
  • Get halfway through the MWF take home midterm exams or more--Not quite. I only made it through 6 of them, but I did grade a total of 17 today which means I've got about 33/62 total done. That's pretty good progress. So I'm counting that as accomplishing today's grading goal.
And that's it. The actual in class midterms will be easy to grade, so I'm not worried about that.

The goal for tomorrow:
  • Finish MWF take home midterms
  • Get 1/3 way through 101 final drafts, so about 7 of them, at a minimum.--this did not happen. Rather I plowed through ALL of the midterms, in all their forms.
All right, now it's time to sally forth!

Have a great day all!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


After that last ranty blog post, I'm going to write something more positive.

I haven't touched the midterm exams yet today. It seems likely that I will not even look at them until tomorrow morning. I started them yesterday, but as my motivation is gone, as I seem to want to do nothing but write, I just have to say, "meh, how much could I have gotten done in 1.5 hours anyway?"

Okay, actually a lot, and perhaps in a few minutes I will look over some more for a half hour before class starts. At least I'm showing a film today, so that takes some pressure off there. Besides, I left my fork at home, so I can't eat my lunch, so at least I don't have to teach on an empty stomach.

March was a rocky month for my health and fitness goals. Actually, it was a piss poor month from which I'm still trying to recover. I seriously just imploded after seeing myself on t.v. Normally looking that bad would inspire me to get off my ass, but after starting to feel good about myself, after being able to start getting back into some of my smaller clothes, it was a blow to see myself looking that bad, or rather what I perceived as bad. I really was struggling with that. But over break, I have sorta started to snap out of it. I needed that break. I think I've already worked out more this week than I have in the last two weeks combined. I am feeling better for it, despite being angry/annoyed at a lot of things, and despite having lost all motivation at this point. For some reason, getting actual work done during my MWF office hours is like an uphill battle. And I think it's because I know that I plan on grading for about 3.5 hours tomorrow--while the students are taking their midterm and then during office hours. And maybe Friday will be a bit better if I can get started right away on the Freshman essays. In theory, I could almost be done with the midterms, but I just can't get going.

All right, you know what? I will get going. I'll post back in a half hour what I did.

ETA: 30 minutes later I got through 8 midterms. It helped that one was fantastic and two were only half done. But still, I did 8. I can feel better about that and not have to work on them tonight now. Woo-hoo!

Midterm Blues?

So I had this long post about how I was in a grumpy mood and how I don't like my freshman very much this quarter and how I had assumed that none of them would do the work for today, but it turns out I was wrong! Now I feel like a total dick, but it has put me in a better mood, so that's good.

I'm trying to maintain my sense of humor here. I think I'm PMSing like a champ because I am obnoxiously grumpy about EVERYTHING. I had some really good days on break, but today I am fired up, and not in a good way. I'm annoyed. I don't want to work. I've got a shit ton of grading to do this week, and I've still got four weeks after this one plus finals week (which we don't actually have finals week, but I'm only showing a movie in the lit classes and forcing the kids to writing in the comp class), so I don't count that as a real week, except that I'll be grading all week. But at least I don't have to teach as well.

Then I get a whopping week and a half off before I have to turn around and do the whole damn thing over again for six weeks. Look, if the contracts are approved, I'm grateful for the summer teaching. Truly, because it will give me an additional paycheck over the summer. It will barely be enough to cover basic living expenses (rent and utilities), but that's one less month's worth of utilities and rent to worry about I suppose. That week and a half I have off though--half of it will be spent at a conference, which is in a place I love and I get to see family and do some cool stuff, but it also means that I miss the first day of summer school because since my boss didn't bother to let me know that summer teaching was going to be an option (ze only sent around the form in January without any feedback since then), well, I had to make my flight plans without knowing my summer schedule so it would cost us less than $1000 to take our trip in May. So whatever. If ze is pissed about my missing the first day, then ze can kiss my ass. And it's likely that my boss will give me grief for doing so. I'm getting angry thinking about it, so I'm going to stop thinking about it. But what it means is we get back from our trip on a Wednesday night. We turn around and drive 10 hours on Thursday (which is when classes start), get back here, and then start classes on Friday. Nice. See, we're flying from Home City because we planned on spending a couple of weeks there, and it's a helluva lot cheaper to fly from there than anywhere around here (even if we drove five hours to the major airports). Because my boss has not been forthcoming with schedules because ze is "so overwhelmed," we planned around the husband's drill schedule rather than my summer teaching. I mean, if you're going to sit on that for two months and not tell anyone, or even stop by and let me know that I might perhaps have teaching (the feeling is that we're discouraged to bother the boss because ze is overwhelmed right now--whether or not that's true, it's definitely the impression I get when I talk to people or whenever I walk in the office, which is why I didn't ask until my eval meeting). And I know it's "pending approval," but still, a head's up would have been nice. So you know, whatever.

I'm so ready for summer to get there. But my summer doesn't start until July 5th--which, this is jacked up. We get the fourth of July off. But the last day of classes is the 5th. That's right. We get a day off and then come back for one freaking day. Seriously?????? Why not just have the last day on the 3rd? So whatever, again. Look, there were a lot of pros to taking this job to staying in the old one, but the way they do the scheduling is not one of them. They way the breaks are set up is not one of them.

I apologize y'all for being so angry lately and for airing it all out on the blog. It actually makes me feel better to do so. I don't know if I'm tired--if this year has just been too long (academic year), and it doesn't feel like the end is in sight because I have to teach summer school. I don't know. Maybe it's because it's midterm? Maybe it's midterm blues?

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Storm Has Passed.

I am happy to report that after yesterday's rant, a whole helluva lot of chocolate, a good dinner (actually, no my dinner sucked, but I cooked it, so it was better than pizza or eating out), and three very finely crafted snobby beer, a great movie, and some episodes of this series, a decent night's sleep, I awoke, albeit early, significantly less splenetic than of late. Actually, this was the first morning in a week that I've not felt like beating someone up.  And let me tell you, it felt wonderful not to wake up angry. Good lord. It was sapping a very large amount of energy out of me. But I am happy to report that I do feel better. I think what I needed was a day like yesterday. A day to pout, complain, rant, be angry, cry, not teach on a weekday, clean a little bit, cook, indulge in cookies, and drink. What helped was that it was an off day for a Friday and that meant I didn't waste a Saturday, thus half the weekend being a grump. I've got tomorrow and Monday still off, so I think I seriously just needed a mental health day that didn't cut into my weekend.

This morning, I got up early (unplanned, but I figured, what the hell, I was up), made some coffee, journaled, and then I worked out for 2:45. Yes, that is correct. I worked out for almost three hours. I did 90 minutes of yoga, an hour's worth of legs, and 15 minutes of abs. I was smoked by the time I was done, but I felt so much better. I attempted to work out yesterday, but I was so mentally exhausted that after I put on my workout clothes and got the den set up, I just started crying, weeping over how I didn't want to workout, begging the husband through my tears to tell me it was okay for me not to work out. I took a shower instead and went and bought a new French Press and then cleaned the kitchen and then bought chocolate.

I made some progress on the office yesterday. Turns out the plans I had for organizing and cleaning during the break aren't going to work out quite like I wanted them to. The office is a much bigger task than I had anticipated. I managed to get both desks moved and set up (now the Husband has his own workspace that's NOT the kitchen table) AND get some of the shelves cleared off so the Husband could unpack his boxes of books (he was really cute--he cataloged them as he unpacked them). I got the cookbooks moved to a shelf in the kitchen. All in all, the office is half done. I think we may be done working on the organizing and stuff for the day as well. I cleaned my bathroom. I'm about to clean the kitchen up a bit, and then it's off to the grocery store and the liquor store and then back to cook and hang out with each other for the rest of the day.

I'm so glad that I feel better today. So very glad.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Another Rant: The Honeymoon is Over Edition

It seems I'm really angry these days. I apologize for the negative spew that is on the blog lately, but there are lots of things bothering me right now.

Look, for all my complaints about my boss in Fancy Town--ze was most of the time condescending toward me. If students complain, hir first course of action was to question my pedagogical reasoning behind everything to the point to where I had to first think about how I would defend an assignment before I even started creating an assignment, which is just stressful out the ass. Everything I did was questioned. But at least ze was competent--for the most part, as far as schedules and getting me the stuff I needed, whatever. Ze was a tool during my last eval meeting but whatever.

Right now, I can't not complain about my boss. Interim though ze is, oh.dear.god.

During my job interview, I was asked if I would and could teach the theory class because apparently there was this theory class on the books that was required, and since the person who had taught for the last five years didn't get tenure and was gone, they were scrambling because NOBODY wanted to teach this class. I jumped on it. "Are you kidding?? That's my favorite class to teach! I have so many ideas for the theory classes! I LOVE this kind of class. If I taught nothing else, I'd be happy." Response: "That's great to hear because no one wants to touch this, at all." --Hang on to this anecdote.

I'm at my eval meeting.
Boss: "Are you happy here?" Me: [enthusiastically] Yes! I love it here!" Boss: "Oh, you can be honest. You don't have to just say that." Me: "I'm not. I do like it here a lot!" Boss: "Are you sure? You don't have to tell me what you think I want to hear."


Let me tell you--my evals from Winter--amazing. Total complete 180 from the Fall quarter, which I expected to be on the lower side. New place. Moving from semester to quarter. Admittedly I piled too much into the lit class--I crammed a semester into a quarter, and I got called on it by the students. For each section, I had a 2.9 on one question. The rest were average--3.3/3.2/3.4. Not bad. Not excellent, but good. In my meeting, boss asks me about my evals. I explain that Fall was about where I expected it to be; I made the appropriate changes, and voila! Look how high they were in the Winter. Boss: "Yes your evals for the Winter were off the chart. Well higher than the Department or Uni average." Me: "Yes, I'm quite pleased." Boss: "I wouldn't worry too much then about those 2.9 from the Fall." Me: "It's okay. I'm not. I expected that, and because I knew what I did wrong, I changed some things in the class, and clearly they were the right changes." Boss: "I agree. But what I'm saying is that you shouldn't obsess over those 2.9s." Me: "Okay, I'm not." Boss: "yes, well, I agree. But really, I'm saying that you don't need to worry about the 2.9s. You really shouldn't obsess over them. You're record stands for itself right now, so don't worry about them." Me: "Okay." Boss: "Okay, good, just don't think about those 2.9s."


So, um, yeah, is that a passive aggressive way of telling me that this is going to hurt me one day, or are you just not listening? Frustration point #1.

Boss: "Wow, you're ahead of the curve right now! I can't believe you did so much this year already!" Me: "that's good to know." Boss: "So this one that was accepted in October, I don't know if that will count because obviously you did it before you got here." Me: "No, I didn't. I signed this contract for the job here first, then I signed the other contract, and I didn't start working on it until I got here. I sent it off at the beginning of Fall quarter. It will be published with BLT-U after my name, not under my old job. It's affiliated with this Uni." Boss: "Oh, but you wrote it before Fall quarter started." Me: "Yes, after I left my other job. It's my name, BLT-U in the publication." Boss: "But it was accepted in October. " Me: "Yesssss?" Boss: "Okay, I guess this one won't be a problem." Me: "Okay?" Boss: "This other one, is that real [as in legit]? It says there's "newsletter" in the title. So that's not an actual publication that was peer-reviewed then." Me: "No, it's legit. It's out of major university. The editors are two of the top people in the field right now. They read and approve all the submissions because it's still small, but it's run by major scholars and isn't a society or conference proceedings thing. I think they put "newsletter" in the subtitle because they also include interviews, CFPs in the field, bibliographies of major scholarship in the field. It's not something stapled together and sent out." Boss: "Oh, well, I'm not sure." Me: "Okay...??" Boss: "How many pages is pub one?" Me: "19." Boss: "How many pages is pub 2?" Me: "About 9." Boss: "Oh, wow, you're already over half of the minimum requirement for publications then. Wow, you're doing really well!"

Head/desk--after ze just told me that the two in question might not be really legit. So wtf?

Boss: "So what's your scholarship plan?" Me: "To do x, y, z, get past the min requirements, get a cushion and get that set and then start working on my book." Boss: "You don't need a book." Me: " I want to write a book." Boss: "you should start doing that now, just in case you can't find a publisher."


And now, the thing that has me the most cheesed off--
Boss: "So, what's your favorite class that you like to teach?" Me: [enthusiasm out the wazzoo] The theory class! I love that class so much. Hands down my favorite." Boss: "oh, that's going to be a problem." Me: [quizzical look]. Boss: "See, senior prof has been clammering for it for some time; Ze has been wanting to teach it for forever, so we're giving it to hir. You got it last year because the dean wanted you to teach it [that should say enough right there, I think, but whatever]." Me: "okay, I'll share with senior prof." Boss: "Well, other new hire also wants it, so I'm not sure that you're going to get to keep teaching it." Me: "I don't care what other new hire wants. That's my class. Ze cannot have it, and I will fight hir for it." Boss: "But new hire really wants to teach it." Me: "So? Ze cannot have it. I won't let hir. I'll share with senior prof. But new hire can't have it." Boss: [frown.] "How would you rate your collegiality?" Me: "Perfect."

Seriously? Prior to my teaching it NO ONE wanted to touch that class. Now EVERYONE wants it and I'm supposed to be nice and help everyone out. Meanwhile, new hire (who by the way hasn't published as much as me this year--ze may have done something in grad school, but since being here, nothing) already has gotten an upper division class and a GRAD class mind you, and I've only gotten one required majors class--the theory class--and I'm supposed to roll over and be "collegial" about giving up the class. Fuck that. I was brought in to teach that class. New Hire said that didn't even come up in hir interview. Well, I'd like to think there was a reason for that. I was hired to teach this class.

Look, I know this is the nature of the beast, but I feel totally betrayed by these two colleagues/friends who are muscling in on my class all of a sudden. You know why? Because before I got here, the students talked about that class like a necessary evil. When I taught it in the Winter, the word around the halls were that theory is awesome. That the students continued their theory discussion in their other classes before those classes started. That the class fucking rocked. It's not because of the theory. It's because of me goddammit.

Look, I don't normally toot my own horn, but I rock at that class.

And you know what, I fucking picked that territory because no one else fucking wanted it. And I'm not letting that go without a fight.

For now, though, it means that it will be 2013 before I get to teach that class again.

My boss was also critical of the "cushy" schedule that I had in the Winter. Hmmm, 8 am theory class, a huge break, and an 8 am lit class. Cushy, right. Should I point out that ze was the one who chose those classes and times for me?


I seriously am so nettled right now. I will eventually calm down and relax. I'll eventually get over it. But right now, GRRRRRR! I shake my fist in the air in irateness.

And on an unrelated note: the postman is hoarding my contacts. Seriously. Told the eye doctor he attempted to deliver them, unbeknownst to me, and that he would try again today. I watched that mofo drive away without attempting to deliver anything.

Also, this week I broke my French Press. And I dropped the very expensive watch that the husband gave me for my graduation present and broke that, too. I got two grease burns making falafel. And one of the first friends that I made here got a really great job out of state and left this morning. Shit ass motherfucking week. Also, my allergies are kicking my ass, too. Not happy.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Settling down a bit.

I was so out of sorts yesterday with the whole book order thing, that as soon as I finished it, I got this massive headache. Like bringing tears to my eyes, damn near crying headache.

I mean, I was sort of cranky when I woke up yesterday, too. Annoyed and pissy. When I got to campus, the internet in my office was jacked up. The building's wireless wasn't working. My email wasn't working.* And had the system been shut down in my classroom, then my plan for the day would have been over. That didn't happen though. Thankfully. But I was pissed when I got in to go teach. That changed a bit once I started teaching, but damn. I was cranky.

On top of it all, my hair sucked yesterday. And that had me grumpy, too.

Anyway, I talked to senior prof who teaches the 20th century version of the class I'm teaching in the fall, and ze helped me out quite a bit. The one course description line made it sound like it was an upper division survey class, and it is not. So I've got a good list of things I think. About half of it is stuff that I've taught before and feel comfortable teaching. The other half is stuff I want to read and stuff that I've long been wanting to teach. I've been teaching the first half of the century for soooooo long, my entire grad school career and then some, that I'm just sorta burnt out on it. My research interests are elsewhere now, and I'm trying to teach more in that area. But now that other person in my field didn't get tenure, then all of that falls on me. Which is fine. But it's not the ONLY thing I want to do here.

I guess one way to do that is to propose some courses. That's something I'll work on this summer.

Summer. Hmmmm. That's a problem. If I get offered teaching, I have to take it. We need the money. But it will interfere with my summer research plans. And that's a problem.

You know what? I can't even think about summer right now. I can't. I'll start to cry.

I tell you what though. Tomorrow can't be here soon e-fucking-nough. Seriously. I'm going to let the class out early (as I will today), and even though I have office hours, I'll just get the mid-terms copied and all that jazz. Grade any lit analyses that have come in. And since this is long, I'll do a separate post on the plan for the weekend.

Letting the class out early today might not make any freaking difference, actually. I have a handful of students who stay after every class to talk to me. Which is fine. I love it actually. I'm glad that they're engaged enough to want to keep talking about the text, to keep asking questions, to further the discussion. In Fancy Town, the students couldn't get out of the classroom soon enough. It's nice, don't get me wrong. But seriously, on a Friday afternoon, at 1:45, I so don't want to hang around until 2:00, 2:15 continuing the conversation. I don't. Today's the last day of the week for that class before break. I don't want to let class out at 1:30 and still be there at 2:00. But I don't want the stus to think that I don't want to talk with them. That's only the MWF class. The TR class--those students don't hang around at all. So I'm not complaining, really. I'm just ready for the break.

*which is totally awesome you know? Because we're an engineering school, but our technology is worse than the SLAC I came from. We still have freaking WEBMAIL for crying out loud! And our email CRASHES! Hello?! 1996 called and wants its technology back. I feel lucky that I don't have a rotary phone in my office for Pete's sake. And lo and behold! It's not working this morning! Oh wait, my internet at home was out. Craptastic.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Order Pissiness

Argh! Right now I'm so freaking annoyed and I have to vent.

So I get an email last night saying my book order for fall is due. Yeah, it's through the book order person that I find out I'm teaching an upper division, brand new to me, course in the fall. Nice. And the book order was due yesterday.

My boss had not discussed this possibility with me... EVER!

Oh, and my boss has been sitting on the fall schedule for over a month now.

Oh, and the book order, by federal mandate, was actually due yesterday.

So I have to basically make a snap decision NOW about what I want to teach for a class I've never taught, don't know the scope of beyond the course description which is one vague and confusing line, and I have to have this locked in for something I'm teaching in six months.

You know, a fucking month to think about this would have been much more helpful than, oh, I don't know, 24 fucking hours!!

I don't know about you, but for a course that I've never taught before, I have to think about the scope of the course, what I want to do BEFORE I settle on the books. There's a shit ton of stuff that I'd like to do, and I can't do all of it in a quarter, so this takes more than 24 hours, for me at least.  So again, I've got to make a snap fucking decision about what I want to teach six months from now.

And the two people who probably have taught this course already are unavailable at this particular time. I'm hoping that changes before my office hours are over.

Half the shit that I want to teach, that are in my field, were already taught last quarter, and as it's upper division, I don't want half the class to be stuff that they've all already read.

I'm so freaking incensed right now that I have a headache. I feel like I might blow a gasket. Seriously.

It's times like this I wish I had a heavy bag.

And since there has been no consultation of the schedule, I am worried this means I will be stuck with fucking 8 am classes and huge gaps again in the fall. Fuck me. I guess I'll find out on Thursday when I have my yearly eval meeting.

I seriously want to punch someone in the face right now.

I feel like it feels that I'm overreacting, but I can't help it. This really has me very mad. I love the person who's my boss to death--as a person, ze is great. As a boss, ze is horrific. Thank goodness it's temporary. I know that's terrible, but argh. I'm cranky today. And my hair sucks today, too. That's just like insult to injury man.

Now to go see if I can get any clarity on what this damn course I'm teaching in the fall actually is.

Monday, April 2, 2012

More on the Importance of Saturday Morning Prep Work

Finally! A weekend when I can get my work done! Well, Saturday was a wasted day because I was totally foolish Friday night and was hungover like a champ on Saturday. Lately, I've been doing this. For the last three weeks in a row I've gotten really drunk one night--so drunk that the next day is a complete wash for productivity.

One thing I've noticed: these has all been weeks when I haven't been able to prep on Saturdays.

The last three weeks, well four really, although the week after Spring Break I was a bit fluish, so that one sort of counts here, but for the last three weeks, my workouts have gone out the window. I went from six days a week to 2-4. That's bad for me. And for the last three weeks, we've been eating terribly. Lots of pizza. That's our go-to when we don't feel like cooking.

And what has changed in those last three weeks?

No Saturday prep.

I knew in February it was what was freeing up my week days--that little time spent on Saturday prepping (although a pain, but still), but I didn't realize what an overall impact it had in such a positive way on my overall well-being.

I know I wrote about this on the other blog, but I had not realized truly what an impact it had on me.

The one time I got drunk in February was when my bro and SIL came in. In January, I was getting sad and drunk on Monday nights, for whatever reason, that was my stress night. But in February, once I started prepping on Saturdays and was able to work out then Saturdays through Thursdays, I wasn't so stressed on Fridays. I was exhausted from the week (usually from the work outs), but not stressed. And if I had beer on Fridays, it was two. Although we weren't really going out either. But on Sundays and Saturdays when we'd go to friends' houses, I wasn't getting drunk like I have been.

Yesterday, since I was totally not feeling well Saturday morning, I had to get up early so I could prep. before going over to the g'parents'. I didn't finish and had to finish when we got home, but still, it was done. And I had time to cook. And I slept really well last night, and I woke up this morning not stressed out because I've got the lit class under control. And I have no grading this week either (except I might have some lit analyses coming in, but I don't think anyone is writing on Realism, or few may, but I can knock those out Thursday).

The point is, I'm not stressed out about this week. The point is that I can come home from school today and work out and not have all this stuff hanging over my head. It also means that I won't have to chose among working out, finishing work, or cooking. It means that I won't have to get up at 5 am tomorrow morning and finish my work before school.

Again, I know I wrote about all of this over at the other blog, but I didn't really realize (I'm slow, right? It takes me forever to figure these things out) how much of a difference it makes. Like I knew Saturday prep meant that I got to work out in my afternoons during the week. That was the point of Saturday prep. What I didn't realize was a) how much that afternoon working out was keeping my stress level down and my health up (I've been feeling low grade crappy for about four weeks now--no, I'm not pregnant--that was a bit defensive, but if I mention a sneeze on FB, everyone jumps in with "omg! you're totally pregnant. So I feel I always have to clarify and then apologize for my defensiveness); b) how much of an impact it had on my willingness/energy to cook during the week; c) how much more enormous prep work is during the week compared to Saturday morning. It's easier to find six hours (at the most--like if we're reading 100+ pages, which is rare for the week, but happens, or Henry James) between 6 am and noon on Saturday than it is to find that during the week, even if it's broken up. It just took me a while to realize that.

So now, since I've gotten this taken care of for the week, NOW I feel like we can return to our regularly scheduled program. I'll let you know if this is the case. :)