I've had these two small(ish) but important writing tasks that have been on my daily to-do list all day long. And I kept putting them off, doing every other thing on the list. At around 9:00, I thought to myself, "Well, I guess they just won't get done today."
So why in the world do I, all of the sudden, start working on both of them, at the same time, at nearly 10:00 p.m.? That just isn't the way I work anymore. Those late-night, writing-all-night efforts? I left those behind in my early grad-school days. Granted, 10:00 isn't "late" by lots of people's definitions, including my own, but it is certainly past my writing timeline. I can read, grade, even do some research after 10:00, but in general, there ain't a lot of writing getting done. So this is weird.
But again, when you've been waiting all day for the urge to get these things done and the urge suddenly hits, you go with it, I suppose.
I am taking a temporary break from finishing up a powerpoint presentation for my students on Structuralist Criticism. I know, I know, you are jealous.. Seriously, though, this is not late-night work for a tired brain!
It's been a long day, starting early this morning when I had to get ready for my biggest home-ownership purchase since buying the house itself: replacement of the HVAC unit. After years of worrying about the old unit giving up the battle in the dead of winter, I decided on a preemptive replacement. The crew arrived today at just after 8:00, although I had to be ready for them much earlier, since I was told "they'll be there between 7:00 and 8:00." The guys worked hard and were done by 2:20 and I am now the proud owner of a new unit *and* a shiny new touchscreen thermostat.
Having people here in the house most of the day made it hard to get anything done that required extended, uninterrupted attention (including anything to do with structuralism). But I did get lots of other tasks done, the kind that I could work on in 10 or 15 minute intervals: all my advising prep, a observation report for an adjunct, tons of emails, some department documents, and a couple of letters of recommendation. It always feels good to cross a bunch of items off of my to-do list.
This HVAC replacement has been weighing on my mind as a kind of "big and stressful day" to get through. Now that it's done, I am breathing some sighs of relief.
(Rather boring post, I know. It's mostly a powerpointing-break!)
Okay: so, after ignoring earlier requests from my department
chair, I had to come up with a 40 character or less title for my upcoming ENGL
102 class theme. All I really had was “Zombies!” Headed over to my friend
Carrie (a creative writer) for help. Five minutes later, I emerge with “The Writing
Dead: Zombies & Composition.” Yay for collaboration and helpful, smart,
creative friends. And you have NO idea how much it broke my heart to resist
using “(de)composition.” But, in terms of character limit and making sense, it
didn’t fit. Carrie said to save it for the syllabus.
Also tossed around “Revising and Reanimating” and “A to
Zombie” (that one was my friend Tim’s).
Don’t contact your local congressman//woman to complain
about “education these days.” The zombie stuff is just a way to get them in the
door and writing about a topic that interests them. Trust me: we’ll be doing
lots of cool, research-based, multi-modal writing.
Also, I think your local congressman/woman is a bit
preoccupied right now.
Look, I get that professors shouldn't air
their dirty laundry or too much personal information in class. Point
taken. But the idea that we shouldn't talk about our own academic
struggles or failures? Baffling--especially when it comes to writing
instruction. Maybe that's a misreading or over-reading of the
researchers' conclusions (and I suspect that it is the latter--their use
of the ominous phrase "engaged with caution" suggests as much). But if
it *is* an over-reading, then their message is, essentially, "Hey, don't
do too much of these two things." In this case, those things are
over-sharing and talking about your failures because they will damage
your credibility and lead to incivility in the classroom. But guess
what? I don't need a scientific study to show me that's true. Balance is
key. We get it.
I just heard this story for the first time today, on theNew Yorker's Fiction podcast. I was listening to it while cleaning the bathroom. Here's my endorsement: its closing paragraphs, without being cloying or patronizing, made my eyes tear up. Give it a listen.