The hours

Oh, Sunday night.  This isn’t an especially angsty one, but it’s still not my favorite time.  Nice, though, to reflect that it’s been a good weekend, with some fun, some down time, and some good work.

I mentioned that I brought my second book manuscript to the writers’ group earlier this month and got a very helpful response.  I have managed to carve out some time to revise–again: I completed a draft in 2011, and at various times I’ve thought I was finished; I sent it out many times in 2013, and just a few times in 2014, feeling that something needed my attention.  Now I have the feeling that this thing really is done.  At least I’m ready to get serious about sending it out again.  This weekend I picked four of the upcoming book contest deadlines and submitted it.  I also did some planning for upcoming contests and open reading periods.

This week, I’m going to get two batches of unpublished poems back out there.  Not every unpublished poem in the book works on its own, but there are some that should have magazine publication before the book comes out.  And this should be the year that the book gets taken!

And then I’m going to find some time–maybe next weekend–to look at the handful of finished poems and sheaves of drafts I have for the next book.

Musical chairs

Year two of being department chair has found me worrying less about being department chair, which has been nice. The care and feeding of the new people is a big piece of the job, which makes me wonder what it would be like not to have new faculty to deal with. We have had at least one new faculty member every year since I started working at SA: Dorothea and Viola, Maddie, Romola, Dinah, Orsino and Sebastian, and then the three new people this year.  Of those, Maddie and Viola are the only ones I’ve seen both come and go–I actually saw Viola do it twice, since she came, taught for three years, was home for a year with her baby, taught part-time for one more year, then left. (She had a long commute, which made the part-time work less doable, and she wanted to have a second baby–she’s pregnant now.)  Maddie only stayed a year and then went back to her Ph.D. program; she’s now an assistant professor at a public research university in the South.

The people I’ve seen leave include Elinor (husband’s new job in another state); another really good teacher I never wrote about here (new job closer to her home); the sixth-grade teacher who moved to an administrative position; and Alpha, the only one whose contract wasn’t renewed.  We’ve hired more people than we’ve lost, and the department is larger than it was when I came.  We’ve also had parts of our faculty’s schedules commandeered by different programs; for example, journalism was until quite recently taught by a staff member, and now it’s part of Dinah’s courseload, and another teacher I have never pseudonymed teaches mostly film.  And Lucinda, as I’ve mentioned, is teaching just two courses now.

As I look around this year, and watch the new folks get settled in, I think the most likely source of change for next year is that Romola might get pregnant and have a baby.  That would be a good thing, of course, and depending on whether she leaves altogether or just takes a leave, we might not absolutely have to make a new hire.  I think I would consider myself lucky if that’s the only disruption to our deployment next year!  It will probably be more complicated than that, though.

Why am I thinking about this now, when there is so much to think about that’s more immediate?  (I think I just answered my own question.)


Well, I’ve definitely gotten the Alec/Alex thing down now, yes sirree.  It’s just everything else that has gone to hell.

Okay, it’s not that bad.  Just that I have too many different kinds of things to do and I don’t seem to be able to do them all well on the same day or the same week.

I’m actually getting just a little bit ahead on the prepping, I am basically current with grading, and the teaching in general is going well.  This week it is the department chair stuff that feels like it’s sliding.  I have had a lot of interaction with Orlando, because he is in the faculty workroom at some of the same times, and some with Olivia, who doesn’t have a homeroom and so I see her in the workroom every morning during homeroom.  But I haven’t seen Miranda, the new sixth-grade teacher, last week or this week.  I know she has support over there in the middle school with her grade-level partner and Dorothea, but I did have some suggestions for her after I watched her teach and I should go back into her class and see how things are going for her.  I think I can do it once before the end of the week, if I’m organized.

I also have a big monster email I need to write the whole department about plans for back-to-school night, the annual evaluation cycle, upcoming meetings, funding requests, and two or three other things.  Writing that email is the zombie task that keeps walking from daily list to daily list.

I had a hugely helpful writing-group session on my manuscript last week, and I just haven’t been able to carve out the time to sit with the notes.  I have conference stuff that’s piling up, and various personal emails to write.

Bed, I think. I am not getting anywhere tonight.  If I can get up well rested, I can blow through a lot of this stuff in the morning and schedule the rest for later Thursday and for Friday.  I may not know much, but at this point in my life, I think I know when I’m out of steam.

Three weeks

The school year is just three weeks old, and we’re pretty settled in, I guess.  I learned almost everyone’s name pretty fast this year; the seniors I mostly knew because I taught their class, if not all of the same students, when they were freshmen, and the juniors have been around for long enough that I knew many of them casually, or knew the name and just had to attach it to a face, or knew the face and just had to attach it to the name.  I do have a few name glitches that I hope will smooth themselves out: I have an Alex M. in one junior class and an Alec M. in the other.  And they look a little alike.  I also have a handful of younger siblings, and have slipped a few times calling them by the older sibling’s name.  But nothing too serious, I hope.

Meansomething Index:

Number of students: 61

Courses this year: 4

Number of AP practice essays graded so far: 26

Lunchtimes so far this year: 13

Lunches eaten with colleagues at lunchtime: 4

Lunches eaten at meetings: 3

Lunches eaten alone outside normal lunch hours: 6


Quizzes and small bits to grade for Monday: 54


College essay season

Lots of spare moments this week have been filled with helping seniors with their college essays.  It’s fun to watch the essays evolving (usually) toward better, more engaging, more specific reflections of the people they are and the stuff they care about.  There’s a lot to say for having to construct a meaningful story about yourself as you get ready to move on to the next stage.

And on Tuesday I heard about the first college acceptance.  That student was admitted early to his first-choice school, so the process is over for him.  It’s a longer road for others, although by early December many kids will have received at least one acceptance.  I guess I’d better get moving on those letters of recommendation.  I have only received four or five requests because I taught so few juniors last year.  That makes a nice change!

Quiet loud

With all this technology that IT has been handing out to people, and the various moves, and the new folks, our department was a little behind on security for the technology.  So the week before school began, I polled the department to find out who needed laptop locks installed at their desks, and wrote an email to the very nice, highly competent woman, Iris, who handles the workflow of the security staff, laying it all out for her and for the security staffer who typically does the installations.  (It sounded like no one in IT had mentioned all the new hardware to security; I get the sense that security would want to know about all that, but feel I’ve done my part in tipping them off.)

Anyway, the woman I wrote to responded that she was creating work orders and would try to get the locks installed soon.  It hasn’t happened yet, but I haven’t been alarmed–the first weeks of school are a busy time for everyone, and the safety of people is more important than the security of equipment–especially when a lot of those people are new, young, and a bit lost.

My mistake, I guess, was not cc’ing on our email correspondence all the people whom I’d polled about their needs, because today, after two weeks of nothing happening yet, Romola wrote (and cc’d me on) a rather terse email to the overall head of security–the guy who oversees the safety of the entire campus and the over 1,000 people in it–saying that “she and Lucinda” had asked for laptop locks, this had not yet been done, and when might they expect them?

I was mortified on the behalf of the department, and on my own behalf, even though I know Romola is an adult and responsible for her own relationships with all of these people.  I thought about not doing anything, but I was afraid that the two staffers would feel caught out in front of their boss–even though I thought it was much more likely that all three of them would roll their eyes at her imperiousness.  (I also did consider the possibility that Romola was trying to take initiative and handle something without getting me involved.)  So I wrote a quick follow-up saying that I should have cc’d her and Lucinda on my original email to Iris, that Iris had generated seven work orders for locks for our department alone and probably a lot more for the rest of the campus, and that if we were contributing to the problem by constantly moving the laptops around (between rooms and also taking them home, of course), they should please let us know.  And thank you.

So now Romola probably thinks I am an interfering micromanager, and if she’s not feeling that, she’s probably feeling rebuked.  Or both!  However, she did send a warmer note thanking Iris for all her help and promising to “wait patiently.”  Still, I’m ruminating about the incident.  Is she a little blind or am I a little too touchy?  Or both?

Happy days

I am not doing one of those #100happydays things, but I tell you, if I were, today’s might have been “Went to the frosh-soph volleyball game and all the varsity girls came and sat with me to watch.”  I felt like a mother hen with her chicks.  (Very tall, athletic chicks.)  I couldn’t stay for their game–it was delayed because the opposing team’s bus was late, and the junior varsity squad had to play first, and I had to go meet the Snork Maiden.  But I’ll catch one soon.



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