The long tail

Well, I dragged my tail across the finish line, and showed my students their final exams and gave them their final grades.  A gratifying number of them stopped to say that they’d enjoyed having me for English for the last few months, and to thank me.  A couple left notes on my desk, and a few little presents and treats came my way, too–so I now have some thank-you notes to write. 

Those notes are part of the long tail of the school year–the odds and ends that still need doing or have yet to happen, like a couple of meetings and a few items of paperwork and so on.  During the refractory period following exams in which there was no teaching going on, I started reading The Scarlet Letter, one of several books I’ll teach next year but haven’t read before*; I could hypothetically read five or six other books in the same category over the summer, but on the other hand I could also just read them during the school year, since there are other books I want to read this summer, too.  Apparently the book orders come in fits and starts all summer, so I might just see what turns up in my mailbox.  (I think they’ve ordered the Norton critical edition of The Scarlet Letter, but I have the Bedford from a brief period in my life when I got a lot of unsolicited Bedford textbooks, so that’s what I’ve started reading and annotating.) 

I can’t say that I feel suddenly free, since there’s that long tail plus a number of other things going on–stuff happening at New RU, and the administrative work is peaking for the writers’ conference I work on, and goodness knows I’ve neglected the house lately–but a new kind of ease does seem to be creeping over me tonight.  School’s out! 

I didn’t watch that episode last night, by the way.  I graded until 11:30, dropped into bed, and got up at 4:30 to finish.  I might watch it tonight–or I might go to bed.   

*If I were playing Humiliation, admitting to not having read The Scarlet Letter might be my best strategy.  Runner-up among the books I’ll teach next year would be The Grapes of Wrath.  The others are recent American novels and nonfiction.


4 responses to this post.

  1. I’ve still never read The Grapes of Wrath, about which I spoke authoritatively in my oral exams and also referred to in a footnote in my dissertation; I feel simultaneously humiliated and proud of that fact!

    Sounds like you’re doing American lit next year; we should compare notes.


  2. Posted by FLS on June 14, 2008 at 11:37 pm

    If Gary Sinise would read Grapes of Wrath TO me, I’d sign right up! (His audiobooks of “Of Mice and Men” and “Travels with Charley” are two of my all-time favorites.


  3. Posted by FLS on June 14, 2008 at 11:37 pm



  4. Posted by meansomething on June 15, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    It seems to me that both GoW and TSL are books a lot of people read in high school, and if you didn’t read them then, you might easily have missed them. In graduate school, I seemed to read a lot of “not the most canonical novel by X” because professors were assuming that we’d have read the most canonical novel…e.g., I read House of the Seven Gables in grad school, but not The Scarlet Letter; I read Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet but not Ivanhoe. I still haven’t read Ivanhoe, but does anybody nowadays? 🙂


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