I am the Grand Marshal of the Lazy Parade.

I’ve been away from the blog for a while lately due to the frenzy of final exam grading and then the intense pleasure I found thereafter in doing absolutely fuck all. Bits of interest that you missed included but were not limited to:

1. A student whom I hadn’t seen since February came by my office to drop off every assignment from the whole semester. Along with his essays he had what turned out to be a forged doctor’s note claiming he’d been absent all semester due to his being incapacitated by the insidious and often overlooked disease of “monomuconusis.” No, that is not even a word. Nice.

2. The student I asked for your advice in dealing with — remember him? He kind-of-sort-of plagiarized his final exam essay. Nice, right? Nice.

3. Another student thought it would somehow be acceptable to send me her final exam essay four days after the exam date and two days after semester grades were completely finalized in the system. Nice, right? Nice.

Nonetheless, the summer is off to a great start. All of that bullshit is over with and I am enjoying my time off before teaching starts again. As it turns out, I have less time off than planned. I was going to be completely footloose and fancy-free until July, but I’ve been asked to teach an additional class in June.

I’m actually quite pleased about this and not just due to the extra money I’ll be making. I’ll leave out the specifics, but it’s a good program and something I’m happy to be involved in. It will also be just a bit different from my usual courses, so I’ll have the freedom to try out a few new strategies and ideas. All in all I’m very glad to have been chosen for it.

Before all that begins, though, I’ll have a brief trip to The Big City, where I’m finally going to get myself a chest of drawers for the bedroom and a better shelving system for my growing DVD collection. My clothes will be so happy to be freed from the Rubbermaid boxes they currently live in and be housed in actual furniture, I tell you what. I’m heading to IKEA on Tuesday and I’m still mulling over the exact pieces I want to bring home, but that’s really nothing to complain about. I love their website. Looking at all that sleek, clean-lined, efficient Scandinavian furniture soothes the savage beast within me.

Next on my exciting list of summer activities is the Decemberists trip! OH YES INDEED! My friends Clarabella and Philly are coming to visit, and we’ll be heading back to The Big City with Golightly and another friend to see The Decemberists! We all love love love that band and I think it’ll be the first time seeing them play for each of us. Very excited (if you can’t tell).

After that I have a trip out to California to see my extended family and pay respects to my Grandma, who passed away pack in March. While we’ll all be grieving a bit, my Grandma had a very long, busy, and happy life, so I think we’ll mostly be celebrating her and the trip won’t be too awfully sad. It will be exciting to see all the far-flung members of my family, some of whom I haven’t seen in over 10 years. When I get back from that trip it’ll be straight back into the classroom. WHEW.

As you can imagine, with this busy schedule coming up, I have been feeling the need to be as lazy and self-indulgent as humanly possible. The last week has faded into an endless stream of reading, TV, movies, and lounging only occasionally punctuated by rounds of the 30-Day Shred (I mean I can’t be fully and correctly lazy if that laziness isn’t tinged with fear for the next time Jillian Michaels will yell “AND NOW! SQUATS AND OVERHEAD PRESSES FOLLOWED BY PUSH-UPS!” – that lady can be terrifying).

I think tonight should be the last day of the lazy parade, though, as I have a million things to do this weekend, like purge my closet in preparation for the new dresser, neaten up the house, do laundry, and plan for the upcoming courses I’ll teach. I shall now conveniently forget that list of to-dos until tomorrow morning, however, because I have tofu a-marinatin’, whiskey a-chillin’, and my Caprica DVD a-waitin’ to be unwrapped. Happy weekend to all of you!

Best. Email. Ever.

Dear Dr. Vague,
I was just wondering if you had finished grading the final yet? Im sorry, its just that I need an A really bad, and waiting on the grade to show up is nerve racking! haha If you don’t, it is totally fine, I know you probably have a million to grade!
Let me know!
Lacy Q. Student
P.s. I just wanted to thank you for being such a great teacher! It really helps when I have a teacher as kind and understanding as you. I think you have had so much patience with our class, and that is very nice of you. Thanks for such a rewarding semester! Hope to see you around! Oh and LOVE your haircut!! super cute for summer!!

Exam-Week Grievances, They Are Many.

1. The final exams for two of my classes are now due, and yet some students still have not turned in the previous essay assignment.  One even responded to my email about this assignment with the following: “Uh, I can’t find essay four…”. OH REALLY.  Well I guess I “can’t find” your passing grade, nimrod.

2. I definitely just typed “assing grade” above instead of “passing grade.”  Freudian slip?

3. I have gotten my teaching assignments for next year (after a bit of confusion, of course, only after a bit of confusion) and I have been assigned yet another different theme for my writing sections — a theme I loathe and detest with the fire of ten thousand suns. I want to die just thinking about it.

4. I had an 8:00 exam to proctor today and of course, OF COURSE, I couldn’t get to sleep at all last night, so I am operating on two hours of sleep and a smoothie that claims to have an “energy booster” contained within its mangoey depths.  All of this seems very dubious and unhealthy.

5. I am working so far below my normal levels of cognition that my brain feels all sad and slow and paralytic and empty and my eyes feel dry and squinty and confused.  Is it possible for an eye to feel confused, you ask? I submit to you that it is.

Ready to Be Done with This Bitch

I’d say I’m genuinely excited about the fact that summer is almost here, but one must not forget the fact that with summer in New Wye come temperatures over 100 F with humidity above 70%, or what I like to call suicide weather.  Right now, though, that exists only in the hypothetical sense, and I find myself looking forward to summer.

The last day of classes was yesterday, and I’m now at the beginning of a week off between classes and finals.  Most people only get a day or two off before their first final exam, but due to quirks of the schedule, I don’t have one until Wednesday of next week – how excellent! Even better, once finals are done with, I’ll only have minimal grading and paperwork left to do.  The school year is truly almost over, and I couldn’t be more ready to be done with this bitch.

This weekend I am heading out of town to see my friend C. and celebrate her son’s second birthday, and we’ll be raising money for the March of Dimes by participating in the March for Babies (not to be confused with the more obscure March of Babies or the March on Babies, to be sure).  Thanks to the generosity of several friends who donated to sponsor my walk, I managed to exceed my modest fundraising goal, and I’m feeling pretty happy about all the charitable good will. (Thanks a million, guys!)

In other news, I got my hair done the other day and there are two noteworthy changes to my appearance as a result: 1) My hair is seriously blonde right now. It means business! Icy Scandinavian business! 2) My bangs, they are … very short. I’m not sure about the short bangs, but luckily they’ll be to their ideal length in a week or two.

At any rate, I am feeling very ready for summer and change around these parts.  After finals week I have more than a month off before my summer class begins, and I hope to spend a lot of time reading (finishing Infinite Jest once and for all), writing (revising a couple of articles and maybe starting another one), running (in the air conditioned gym), hiking (out with the nature and the weather and the creatures), and making some minor home improvements (hanging art, devising a new DVD shelving scheme).

Do you have summer plans? I’d love to know.

Whippersnapper Wisdom

Thanks to everyone for voting in my poll and offering advice on the student situation on Monday. I kept meaning to come back here and chat with you all in the comments section about some various points you brought up, but unfortunately I was condemned to another freakish marathon of grading and didn’t get the chance to. (Sixteen hours of grading yesterday and another hour and a half this morning! What the WHAT.)

Now that I have some free time, I’d love to be able to report that pedagogical magic was achieved by following your advice (which, at this point, is a 3-way tie among the following:  telling him to focus on livelier writing, giving him a weirdly inappropriate yachting-based insult, and straight up punching him in the neck), however, unfortunately, our much anticipated meeting in which this neck-punching and this yachting-based insult were to happen did not take place.

We’d never had a specific appointment set or anything, but I had scheduled some drop-in hours for his class, where students could show up during a certain block of time to discuss their essays. He said he would come by during this time “to talk about a few things.” Why didn’t he come, you might be wondering?

Well, since you all have been so helpful in this issue already, let me give you another hypothetical situation and see how you’d handle it. Let’s say you have classes back to back all day long, during the exact same hours your teacher has set aside for conferences, like so:

English: 10:00
Math: 11:00
Basket Weaving: 12:00
Ethics: 1:00
Grade Grubbing: 2:00

English Teacher’s Office Hours: 10:00-2:00

Wow, my friend, it sure looks like your day is packed and there’s no way you can make those office hours.  How unfortunate. Except, oh, wait! Wait! Because your English teacher is HOLDING CONFERENCES IN HER OFFICE, you couldn’t possibly have English class at 10:00, could you? No. In fact, your English class was canceled, so, in fact, your schedule now looks like this:

Free Period: 10:00
Math: 11:00
Basket Weaving: 12:00
Ethics: 1:00
Grade Grubbing: 2:00

English Teacher’s Office hours: 10:00-2:00

Now, hypothetically, My Good People of the Internet, when would you show up to your English teacher’s office for a conference? What looks like a good time to you? Would you go between 10:00-11:00, in your now free period? Or would you show up at her office at 1:55, right in between your last two classes of the day and five minutes before her office hours end, and then complain that you can’t meet with her because you “have class in five minutes and, in fact, have classes all day.”

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?

And what do you think he did?

How Should I Deal with This Annoying Student?

So I have this kid coming to my office today to “talk about a few things.”  Because I am psychic (and because I have dealt with him all semester), I already know that he wants to talk to me to either complain about a grade or ask how to get a higher grade.

I don’t really know what to tell him about this.  The dude already makes B’s and some B-plusses, and I just don’t see him doing any better than that.  He’s fine on getting the assignments done in an adequate-to-good-ish fashion and meeting all the various requirements, but his writing style is in the not-so-good space between confusing and boring.  There are word-choice errors and syntax problems that aren’t such big deals, but they render the writing a bit confusing.  But then, I don’t feel like really trying to resolve my confusion because the material is so dry that I cease to care.

I can’t really tell him this, though, can I?  I mean, boring writing is a problem A LOT of my students have exhibited over the years, and I have never come up with a diplomatic but effective way to discuss it with them.  I usually settle on “make every word count.” Not so helpful, right?

Other things to note: This is a guy who asked for (and received) a one-day extension on his last essay.  I don’t mind granting these when someone is either sick for a long time or has a pile-up of assignments from other classes.  I usually only do it once per student per semester, and only if they ask.  However: I am already a little  peeved with him because he is always checking his math homework in the beginning of my class and I have to ask him to put it away every day.  Like, he’s already prioritizing other classes over mine before he even asks for an extension so he can get his other class’s paper done.  He really doesn’t deserve sympathy at all.  But I doubt he’ll bring up these issues in our meeting, and I’m wondering if I should even bother.

Maybe my advice on how to make a better grade should not focus on making his writing less boring, but rather on asking him to pay better fucking attention in my class and put the fucking math homework away.  Maybe I should just punch him in the neck.  What say you?

Free Blog Poll

UPDATE: My drop-in hours for today are ending in seven minutes and Dude has not shown up yet. He still could show up to my hours Wednesday (I told him either/or would be fine but he said he’d show up today) but at this point I am FED. UP.

I Promise to Feel Better about These Things after a Nap and a Glass of Wine.

Well how did I let a week go by without writing anything over here?  I hate that.  I’ve certainly had plenty of things to say over the last week, but the things that weren’t about television would have either bored or disgusted you, I’m sure.  Aren’t you glad you didn’t have to read five entries about the endless cold and cough and lung chowder with which I am currently afflicted? Aren’t you glad I didn’t recount in detail my annual visit to the Lady Doctor (who, it would have been revealed in RAGING ALL CAPS, turned out to be A MAN*)? Or how about the gripping tale in which I finally ask a doctor about my migraines only to be told, yes, they are in fact migraines and wouldn’t I like some of that new migraine medicine everyone is on about? Sorry you missed that one? Didn’t think so.

[*Not in a The Crying Game sort of way, but in a The Clinic Didn’t Ask if I had a Preference and I Forgot to Mention that I’d Prefer a Lady way.]

Indeed, it has been all boring health issues taking up my time and energy since the start of the semester.  Nonetheless, I did not think you would be particularly entertained by tales of Lung Chowder, (Male) Lady Doctors, or Migraine Pills. But what to tell you?

Can I tell you that my writing students are turning in their first rough drafts today and I feel this slow simmering worry that it’s too early and that I haven’t taught them enough and that they just aren’t ready to be writing this stuff yet?

Can I tell you that, similarly, it is time for me to think about conference papers and publishable papers and spring semester job applications and, similarly, I feel this slow simmering worry that it’s too early and that I haven’t done enough and that I’m just not ready to be writing this stuff yet?

Even though being sick lately hasn’t given me adequate excuse to play hooky from teaching (I just haven’t been quite sick enough for that), it certainly has given me what I felt was adequate excuse to play hooky from my other scholarly duties, and thus I have been spending large blocks of time lying on the couch in my pajamas with a dog on top of me and a tissue crammed up one nostril or the other, watching television and reading trashy books and drinking tea and not writing — not even writing here.  And now it is Monday all over again already and when I get done with the hours of writing conferences I imagine I will find myself right back on that couch with pajamas and dog and tissue and book and tea all over again already.

Please to send help, or at least some decongestants with extra meth.

Beginnings

It’s the first day of the Spring semester here in New Wye, and a day for new beginnings all around.  My students have, for the most part, not begun to annoy me yet; my office is still relatively clean.  This is the beauty of the school year: you can start over again every semester.  Here’s hoping my students this spring are, on average, at least half as good as the best of them were last semester and only half as bad as the worst of them.  That seems like safe math, don’t you think?

More importantly, though, speaking of new beginnings: I have a new honorary nephew as of the wee hours of this morning!  One of my very, very best friends just had a healthy baby boy.  I am beyond excited, needless to say. My friend M. went into labor yesterday morning, and she and I and our other very, very best friend C. spent the day texting back and forth, getting updates, and generally worrying, wondering, and waiting.  And now he’s finally here!  Welcome to the world, baby boy, and I can’t wait to meet you.

The Twelve Days of Finals (and a Reminder About Mix CDs)

Today was the last day of classes! Oh yes indeed! My head is throbbing from all the busyness at school today, which included: twelve frantic emails, eleven late papers, ten kids asking what their grades are, nine broken copiers, eight slow elevators, seven students whining, six colleagues gossiping, fiiiive coo-oold coffees, four broken pencils, three lost books, two paper cuts and a strange error in my grade book.

(HA! You liked that, didn’t you? And now that song is stuck in your head. Hey, I just do what I can to share the joy of Finals Season.)

In the case of students clamoring to know what their averages are before finals week even begins, I really have to resist my usual sarcastic urge. If I didn’t, I might answer along these lines: “Um, NO, seeing as how you have not taken the final yet, I do not know that information! However, I can offer you the number for Miss Cleo’s Psychic Friends Hotline.”

I am in the mood to relax tonight, let me tell you. One of the many ways I will be relaxing will involve burning a bunch of copies of my mix CD. You know, the one I would like to send you. Have you emailed me your address yet? There is still time. Please do! (Also, overseas people need not worry! There is no limit to my ability to mail CDs. I am like Santa Claus in that way, except for one small difference.)