Sunday, December 24, 2006

Season's Greetings

We are safe, warm, and surrounded by family. There are gifts, and good food, and dear friends.

Despite the one gaping hole in our lives, I wish everyone everywhere were as lucky as we are this night.

Blessings to all, and wishes for a healthy and love-filled new year.

Dorcasina & daughter

Sunday, December 10, 2006

One-word meme

Because I always want to be like Badger, except, that is, in the one most important and wretched thing we share. Her wit, wisdom, and wicked writing talent--those I really, really covet.

1. Yourself: sedentary
2. Your spouse: missing
3. Your hair: unkempt
4. Your mother: diligent
5. Your father: distant
6. Your favorite item:
7. Your dream last night: unspeakable
8. Your favorite drink: manhattan
9. Your dream car: an old, 4-door Saab [so sue me; I require adjectives]
10. The room you are in: office/guest
11. Your ex: gay
12. Your fear: every day
13. What you want to be in 10 years: unlonely
14. Who you hung out with last night: "Mean Girls"
15. What you're not: easygoing
16. Muffins: bagels
17: One of your wish list items: energy
18: Time: excruciating
19. The last thing you did: dishes
20. What you're wearing: sloppy
21. Your favorite weather: San Francisco
22. Your favorite book: Impossible
23. The last thing you ate: sandwich
24. Your life: empty
25. Your mood: crabby
26. Your best friend(s): inspiring
27. What you're thinking about right now: crabbiness (see 25)
28. Your car: dogmobile
29. What you're doing at the moment: waiting
30. Your summer: faraway
31. Your relationship status: dismal
32. What's on TV: "The Wiggles"
33. The weather: raining
34. The last time you laughed: yesterday

Friday, December 8, 2006

For the love of G*d, people!

Some of you may remember a time in the far distant past when I was a professor, before I went to the all-widowhood, all-the-time content (and, ahem, then sort of dropped out all together, but we don't need to talk about that again, do we?) In the spirit of things I used to care passionately about, back when I cared about anything at all, I bring you...

An open letter to my fellow post-secondary pedagogues:

Please, in the name of all that is sacred, stop feeding and fete-ing our students! In the past week, nearly all of my colleagues have provided doughnuts, cookies, muffins (home-baked, yet!), pizza, or other treats for their classes. My department has clearly reached a tipping point, wherein more of us feed and serve our students than not in a given term.

And need I mention that this is almost exclusively a female, junior-faculty predilection?

We've read the studies; we know that students are more likely to expect Ladyprofs to be nurturing, understanding, and flexible--and to run screaming to the Dean at the first sign we are made of less maternal stuff. We know that younger female faculty often endure multiple comments from students about their wardrobe, youthful appearance, and purported lack of classroom management. We know from even a random survey of our pedabloguer colleagues that students today expect extra attention, special accommodations [here I am NOT talking about disabilities, but about extra tutoring for that class they missed while on a vacation in Hawaii], and "relatability" in all course material. They don't want to be challenged, reprimanded, provoked, or held accountable. We know this is mostly their parents' fault, but that it has become our de facto obligation to teach them that poor choices do have consequences, and that as their professors, it is not entirely our purview to protect them from their decision to drink heavily and oversleep through 72.6% of our class sessions by creating enough extra credit to allow them to earn an "A."

When we feed them, we simply reinforce the behavior that we bitch about the other 132 days of class.

I'm not a horrible person, nor am I cheap. I have had some classes where the rapport was extraordinary, and where I have been happy to be able to invite my students over for movie viewing, or a celebratory party. Potluck. But these ought to be the exceptions, right? We spend hours preparing for classes. We pore over their papers. We answer email 'til the wee hours. We meet with them, reschedule when they simply fail to show up, ask after their health, listen to their roommate woes, sympathize with the death of their 7th grandmother, and even--on occasion--print out a paper they have, in violation of syllabus policy--submitted via email.

I am very fond of my students. Most of them are--or will be, shortly--fine human beings, who at least pretend to be interested in me and what I teach. Many of them are people I might, if our ages were in closer proximity, might have been friends with. But how on earth does my having worked so hard for and with them all term translate into an obligation to feed them a free meal?

Shouldn't they be feeding me?

Friday, December 1, 2006

'Twas the night before the birthday...

As of tomorrow, I will no longer have a three-year-old. I'm going to miss her--that funny, wise, obstinate creature. I hope I enjoy my four-year-old as much.

In honor of her impending age and increased sagacity, my daughter put a bead up her nose at school today, requiring me to abandon my students mid-class and spend part of the afternoon at the emergency room. This was not part of my master plan, but I provoked it, I am sure, by being revoltingly smug about the fact that my child does not put foreign objects into her mouth. She's fine, I'm fine, and she was a trooper through most of the process. [Where can I get one of those little spatulate remover things? It looks handy for so many awkward personal chores!]

I asked for a goodnight kiss tonight, after reading multiple bedtime stories, including this heartbreaker, about a little boy who has lost his father.

I frequently get turned down when I ask for a goodnight kiss, as she flexes her tyranny in the face of my desperate devotion. Tonight, however, I had to laugh, when she said, "No kisses tonight, Mama. Maybe tomorrow, when I'm four."

I hope so.