Friday, September 01, 2006

Rocked Like a Hurricane

Gentle readers, you know it's bad when I have to resort to quoting The Scorpions, those scions of 80's metal, to describe the first week back to school. But, yea verily, hath I been rocked like a MF'ing hurricane--more like Katrina, less like Ernesto.

It may be the case that I have forgotten the pain and panic of prior first weeks--much like mothers who forget the experience of childbirth. But it sure seems to me like someone pressed the damn fast-forward button. Multiple advisees have emerged from the woodwork with questions about scheduling--all of which have to be handled before the add/drop deadline (which is today), all of whom need to meet with me. Several of these are not even MY returning advisees--rather, they're new converts to my darling little ACUN, for whom I'm the sole advisor. It should be noted that many of these students want this major because it's not nearly as rigid as others, and so often the array of lib ed courses they've taken can count toward the major. But who, I ask you, has to figure that crap out? C'est moi, merci.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to help a grad student finish up his project, which is a bloody mess, let me tell you. He's got about a month to do it, and I'm worried. Anyone got any advice on how to gauge how much a student is actually capable of doing? For instance, I've basically given up on asking him to include transitions, but I think I can insist that he learn the difference between Asian literature and Asian American literature, and what is neither of these things. (Just a for instance? Well, if you insist. Sax Roehmer, creator of the character Fu Manchu, is not, to my mind, someone who makes it into the pantheon of Asian American writers. Neither is Bret Harte, creator of the Heathen Chinee and some of the most atavisitic stereotypes we still currently have. I know that in the postmodern world, ethnicity is difficult to define, and we should base affiliations on politics rather than heritage. But these guys have neither the heritage nor the politics, so I'm putting my foot down.)

And, in the interim, our departmental situation is at a slow simmer. Many many things, unfortunately, going on behind the scenes, a situation which worries me greatly. And I suppose we'll have to decide what we're willing to fight for and what we can let go, before we keel over from exhaustion.

Remember that other part of my job? The part where I get in a classroom with students? That teeny tiny corner of my work is going quite well, thank you. A group of first year students whom I'm hard at work on, trying to get their freak flags to fly; and a group of returning lit/ed majors, who are digging into the first book like nobody's business--despite the recurrent theme of gay sex. Bless their hearts.

Hang in there, y'all--it's only 15 more weeks!

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