Friday, September 19, 2008

Holding Pattern

It's like this: every time sit down to write, I get stuck trying to focus on a single subject. That's not just because I should be blogging more often; it's also indicative that there's too much going on right now. So what's the solution? Bullets!!

  • First and foremost: thanks for the kind words, all. I'm much calmer now about the whole tp situation (in fact, thinking of the binder as toilet paper, and it being used for similar purposes, helps tremendously). I was lucky enough to get talked down by at least three different sane and empathetic people. But let me say this: there is an administrator on campus who has always irked me, in large measure because she has a voice like a foghorn and she's not afraid to use it. But she's also the one who was willing to give me a read on my cv on a Sunday night. So, note to self: take back everything bad you've ever said about her, and don't get distracted from people's innate competencies and compassions by petty outward characteristics.
  • Second: you know departmental life is bizarre when you find yourself watching 300 late at night and drawing comparisons to meetings. This is not Sparta, and I'm am certainly not sporting Gerard Butler's abs, but damn if it doesn't feel as if we're being asked to kneel and acknowledge the godhead. [This is made even more apt since the party in question once told me that she had always wished she could be "one of those really tall black women." My department: all about cultural awareness, us.] This week, we'll enter round four of the same "conversation" we've been having since last semester---one that has been effectively wiped from the meeting minutes twice. It's clear that the granny mafia is in full-effect; one refuses to look at me when I speak, and another is actively doing research to "disprove" claims about the content field in question. In my best moments, I have to hope that this is the death throes of an empire that can no longer stand--death throes, in fact, that make its manipulations ever more visible. After all, one of my most sedate and even-tempered colleagues said to me, in the last meeting: "She is evil. I see it now." In my worst moments, however, I fear that the longer it's dragged out and the more tactics employed, the more likely it is that they'll find a chink in the armor. Stay tuned.
  • Third: You all perhaps remember teaching? The pasttime for which I got into this gig to begin with? The one that technically pays the bills and shit? Well, two out of three classes this semester are rocking my world. The poppiest of pop culture classes is off to a running start, and who knew that giving them MORE theory would get them on board faster? And, the class that was giving me the most agita---the seminar with too many requirements that I couldn't pick novels for---those kids are rocking my world. They're excited, they're funny, they're engaged. They're making fun of themselves for "geeking out" and finishing the novels before they have to. They're using quotes from the novels on their Facebook pages. They're talking about Nixon era politics and pornography and courtly love like gangbusters. Even the bane of my existence student---the serial plagiarist---asked a good question yesterday.

It never ceases to amaze me that the teaching is the thing that makes me love my job. For all of the complaining and griping that faculty do about their students (insert cliche characterization here, e.g., "kids nowadays..."), I'd rather face a mob of them any day over the vast majority of my colleagues. And as that is my constant and ever-present refrain, I'll stop here.

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