Sleepy wave hello

The end of the year is in sight now, yet there’s so much to get through before we get there–

and, as usual, part of me doesn’t want to get there, gets anxious at the thought of the year being over.

Woke early this Sunday morning and fell back asleep to dream vividly that all my seniors were being stealthily replaced by middle-aged people.  And then it got strange.


Sunday school

I know I’ve had at least the lite version of Love, Teach‘s Sunday Afternoon Megasad Life Hole, so even though it’s spring break, I’m saving this to read–maybe the Sunday before we go back from break.

Meanwhile, a lot of life stuff has risen up to claim my spring break. I will write and do yoga, however. I may not get to have a book orgy, a trip or a lot of catching-up time with friends, but I’m definitely writing and doing yoga.  Starting today.

Horse latitudes

FLS directed me to a site I really enjoy–The Final Wager, by Keith Williams, a Jeopardy! champion who analyzes the wagering in each day’s Final Jeopardy! round in both a post and a short video.  Once I watched his basic introduction-to-wagering videos, I was able to follow his strategy in the daily posts, and it’s definitely improved my understanding of what a good wager is.  I don’t always get to see the show, but I’ve been reading Keith’s posts for several weeks now.  In the videos, he stands before a small whiteboard (we can hear the TV offscreen) and calculates the wagers with colored Expo markers before un-pausing the TV and playing the FJ question along with the players.  Although his demeanor is typically pretty even-keeled, it’s fun to see how much he is still engaged with the show, more than a decade after winning the College Championship–how fresh the enjoyment of it still is.  (Which I guess is true of all of us who have been watching the show for decades, even if only intermittently.)

Friday’s game featured some truly terrible strategy on the part of the returning champion, who was behind, had a chance to catch up on Daily Doubles but bet very small, and then all three players made completely wrongheaded bets–like, even could tell they were bad.  They didn’t change the outcome from what it would have been if they had all made good bets, but all three of them bet badly, and it hit Keith hard.  Here’s the whole thing, but this is what happened: When one of the bets was revealed, he threw the remote across the room.  When the leader’s bet–which didn’t even cover a correct answer by the second-place person–was revealed, he sighed deeply, capped the green Expo marker, dropped it on the floor, capped the red one, dropped it, and turned to the camera: “OK, well, I think tonight I officially announce my retirement, ’cause no one is paying attention to me, and, uh, you know…I don’t know how much I can deal with this anymore.”

This is how teachers feel in March before spring break.


  • Got an actual letter informing me I didn’t get the thing I didn’t get, with a handwritten note thanking me for applying and letting me know I had been a finalist.  That was nice.
  • Put in another application for a summer thing.
  • Got the hiring process underway.  One person coming Friday, one Tuesday.
  • Had good conversations in my AP Lit classes on this Rebecca Mead article about “relatability.”
  • Oh my gosh the awesomeness of the creative projects on Paradise Lost.  Poems, paintings, a sculpture of a human brain cradled in two hands.  A scene in Lego.  Oh my gosh.

Shipwreck at the bottom of the world

Okay, the title is melodramatic.  I’m just feeling kind of…Sunday afternoon right now.  And this is just about my immediate surroundings, not the world, which is worrisome too.

It was actually a very cheerful week in some ways–a couple of biggish things happened that I can’t blog about: a very good thing for Dr. Tea, and a midweek off-campus event for me that I’d been looking forward to for a long time.  Oh, and the previous week I went to GU to speak to graduate students about careers in independent schools.  Teaching is going fine–the Major English Poem has been such a delight, and I think I might finally be figuring out how to handle second-semester seniors.  The spring play happened and was terrific, not just as a piece of theater, but as a learning experience for the students and the community.

The little dark clouds hanging over my head are clouds I’ve had before, so I know they’ll pass, but:

  • I went idly to the webpage of a summer thing I applied for about six weeks ago and saw that they have already announced the recipient.  There’s been no email notification to applicants, which is annoying, but of course the really annoying thing was not getting it myself.  Pooh.
  • Despite her earlier announcement, Lucinda’s plans have changed and she actually isn’t going to be coming back next year.  I will miss her.  And, of course, this means we do have to hire at least one person.  I actually have one person I would like us to interview, a departmental spouse, and one person who I might need to interview because Ivanhoe knows and likes her.  Both of these situations are complicated, though, and to know that I will be spending, at a guess, 20+ hours between now and spring break on hiring is not happy news.  On Monday, I have to start talking with people about this–Lucinda just told me.
  • I had eye-rolling moments of impatience with four different members of the department this week: two for jointly bringing forward a potentially controversial novel (language, adult situations) that they think they want to teach–but one of them hasn’t read it and the other read it several years ago before beginning to teach high school (Go back and read it and make the case!), and two for general drama.  It’s Farch.
  • I have a lot of work to do generally, both teaching/grading and otherwise.
  • February has been a crap month for writing habits.  (January was awesome, but it really went to hell after the first week of February.)

The Snork Maiden has to be at school for the play this afternoon, so I’m going to take her and do some work until my sister arrives to see the play.  (I have a couple more summer things to apply for, too.)  Then I’ll take my niece out to do…something, we’ll figure it out…for a few hours, and will get another hour or so while the Snork Maiden is at strike.  That will just have to do.  Then home, for laundry and general prep for the week.  I chaperoned the play backstage on Friday and watched it on Saturday, so this will be one of those at-school-every-day weekends.  I need to plan some kind of relaxing treat for midweek, I think, so that I’m not absolutely cranky and snappish and feeling deprived.

Blue shoes and happiness

Getting toward the end of Major English Poem, or rather, of the parts we’re reading.  It’s been a lot of fun!

There has been a lot going on, as there usually is at this time of year, but it’s mostly the usual stuff. We had the “family meeting” with the Snork Maiden’s college counselor, although it was interrupted a couple of times, including by a surprise fire drill, and I ended up having to leave for class before we were done.  However, the “college process” is now officially under way, and the Snork Maiden has a few action items to pursue–questions to research, decisions to make about next year’s courses, and so on.

I am reading a batch of poetry explication papers from the AP Lit students. Some of them are really good!  Some of them read, as Alison Bechdel had her professor character in Dykes to Watch Out For, Sydney, say, like they were “randomly typed by chimps.”  I am going to ask some of them to revise.

There are only four weeks left until spring break.  This seems wrong, somehow!


New shoes


Yes, that one.

I know I’ve mentioned that my sophomore class is a new prep, and that I’m teaching some texts I’ve either never taught before (The Canterbury Tales, in a fairly inert translation), or never taught in high school (Macbeth, awesome as always).  We’re about to embark upon a great English epic…by a writer who was a child when Shakespeare died…I’m sure you know the one I mean.

Until a few weeks ago, I had not opened this book for about 25 years.  I spent maybe six weeks on it in a college class in which I failed to be enchanted by it, and that’s all.  I know some of the writer’s shorter poetry, but I’d never gone back to this.

Come to think of it, this is where I was with the Odyssey when I came to SA–they had read the first eight books when I got there, and I had read it in college but not given it much of a thought since.  By the time I stopped teaching ninth grade, I’d read it maybe six times and come to love reading it with that level.  I am actually a little more ashamed of not knowing PL better, given that it’s a major English poem, than I was of not remembering the Odyssey that well.  (We read the Fitzgerald translation in college, but I fell in love with the Robert Fagles translation we use at SA.)

It’s awkward knowing that this will probably be my clumsiest pass through PL, but exciting, too.  I’m really going to get to know this poem–or at least, at first, the parts we have them read.  I’ve been reading and preparing, and thinking about which paths in I want to take with them; I’ve also been reviewing materials prepared by Lucinda, Dinah, and even things that Viola (now working at the place that made her the offer) left behind on our shared drive, and I’m totally going to cannibalize Dinah’s PowerPoint, but I’ll be doing a lot of inventing as we go along, too.

I did finish grading all my exams yesterday, which has made today much, much more pleasant, although I did have to chime in on an issue that Orsino and Lucinda were dealing with on the matter of curving their shared multiple choice section.  And with the end of my one-semester overload, I get an extra free period this semester!  It’s just a case of dropping back to my regular workload, so I’m sure it will soon come to seem normal, but for a week or two, at least, I expect to savor it.


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