I am sitting in my classroom right this very minute, watching my students take their final exam. The summer session class is finally over — all but for the grading. It has gone very very well. Maybe it is something about summer classes that make the students either more amenable to working harder, or maybe the students who sign up for classes over the summer are just over-achievers. Either way, I just graded possibly the best batch of essays I have ever had. Like, new-and-refreshing-takes-on-my-favorite-novel good. Like there-were-multiple-A-plusses good. Good good. Shocking, and quite lovely.
Despite all the good good stuff that went on in the classroom over the last several weeks, I am quite happy for it to be over. It’s been mentally exhausting. It’s not just the sheer number of hours spent in the classroom (although that is a factor), but it’s the intensity of compressing a 16-week course into five weeks. It’s the necessity of moving on to the next text, the next movement, the next genre; of moving inexorably forward every single day with no time to reflect or revisit. That and all the grading, of course. I am ready for a break.
For a while there, though, it seemed like I wasn’t going to get one. There was the possibility of my picking up another summer-session class (to start this coming Monday, good glaven!), and teaching for the rest of the summer. It would have been a great boon for my tired, whimpering bank account, let me tell you. On the other hand, I have plenty of research planned for the summer: two articles need to be submitted for publication, and I need to start writing (or at least thinking about writing) two conference papers that I’ll be too busy to work on once fall semester starts. Oh yeah, and I have to update my job dossier so I can get my ass into a position (metaphorical ass, metaphorical position) with the possibility of tenure (not to mention more big fat Hamiltons). I have a lot of work cut out for me, and the free time I’ll have for it without taking on a second class will be crucial to my success. Frankly, I couldn’t imagine how I could jump into another intensive summer session like the one I just had and still eke out any time for writing, let alone the kind of time I will realistically need.
I’m trying to look at the positives here: plenty of writing time! Although, of course, without the additonal income, I will likely be subsisting on ramen noodles and hot dogs for most of August. The struggle and general discontentment will fuel my creativity, on the one hand, but, on the other hand, come on, economic stimulus check!
In other news, I have more major excitement coming up. I have hired myself out as a dog sitter for my friend who’ll be out of the country for two weeks. I’ll be taking care of her aging black lab and obnoxious chihuahua. Actually, I love both of her dogs, so I’m looking forward to spending plenty of time lounging around her house, playing with the dogs, and watching her cable. Uh, after my writing for the day is done, of course. My own dog is a fan of her little chihuahua, but hates all dogs larger than he is, and is terrified of the labrador. My goal for the time will be to make them into friends. Let’s hope my dog doesn’t manage to piss off the normally docile labrador, because she could take off his head with one slobbery bite. Gripping, isn’t it?
Ugh, my students still have 90 minutes left on the final, and I just know at least one of them will take all that time. I should have brought a book.
So, anyway, are you doing anything exciting this summer?