Archive for the ‘NLNRU’ Category

Vacation dreams

Cold is better.  After one restless night, woke up with a half-numb and tingly thumb. I often wind up sleeping with one hand tucked underneath me in an awkward position, so this was not entirely unprecedented, but unfortunately the semi-numbness has persisted for a couple of days and on Sunday I also made the mistake of telling that one acquaintance about it–the person who has had the most hand-related problems of anyone I have ever met: disability-leave-worthy, surgery-requiring hand problems, and of course her reaction was all Nerve Damage! Get thee to a specialist! It’s probably too late already! and you can’t call anyone on Sunday, so immediately my whole hand started aching and tingling.  (Even as I was saying, “Hey, can I ask you…” there was a little voice in my head saying No, this is not a good idea! )  I decided to restart the anti-inflammatory that my doctor gave me for the butt thing, and wear a wrist support, both at her suggestion, and actually it feels a lot better.  (I also moved the mouse to the other side of the computer.)  Will keep an eye on it for a few days and see someone if it doesn’t resolve.

Weird and remember-able dreams lately, mostly as a result of going back to sleep after waking up at the normal SA time.  My dreams have featured odd constellations of people from different parts of my life, all milling around together, mostly quite cheerfully.  I wish I could remember details, because the impression these dreams left was pleasant…

Two nights ago, I dreamed I was back at NLNRU, teaching a poetry class. Most of the students were people I’d taught before, which had me scrambling to come up with something new to them.  I hadn’t ordered books, of course, because I hadn’t known I was teaching the class. I decided to have each person choose a pop song, from any era, that was important to them, and prepare to sing it to the class. Then they would write a poem in which they tried to access, in a big, ambitious way, whatever made that song so important to them.  I wasn’t entirely comfortable being back at NLNRU, but I was glad to be earning the extra money, and I was happy to see those students again. My colleague from this post was there, too, and doing that jumping-in-with-a-followup-question just as in that post!

My Seinfeld chains are six days long, which is quite satisfying, although I am disappointed that because of a series of miscommunications with Stubb and the Snork Maiden, I didn’t get the chunk of morning work at SA that I meant to do today (had to leave abruptly and pick her up, but then ended up waiting around for the other family to bring her to the meeting place).  Oh well, I did bring home the stuff I need, so I’m thinking a session Tuesday, a session Wednesday, and then knock off early for New Year’s Eve, just like a regular working person.


I went to NLNRU today for the first time in about ten months.  I had a fun lunch with my former chair and afterwards cleared out my filing cabinet drawer in the office I used to share.  It was mostly student theses, which I bravely recycled.  I took home a few books, some student evaluations in case I ever need them for some reason, and my toothbrush kit.  I gave my chair the tube of coconut lime verbena hand cream.  I also finally gave back my keys.

I also saw a couple of the administrative folks and another colleague I really like.  I do miss the people.  I do not, however, miss the commute one little bit.  Even leaving after rush-hour traffic in the morning and coming home before the worst of the afternoon commute, it was no fun.  It’s hard for me to believe I did that roughly twice a week for five years, on top of teaching 80-90% time in high school.

It was odd to be on a college campus again.  I had the same feeling when I went to a dance performance at our closest four-year school, a regional campus of our state public university system.  Strange to realize I hadn’t been on a college campus all year, probably for the longest stretch since 1984, the year in which I applied to college.  I used to work at one of these…Oh, wait, that’s actually not quite true, since I served on a review committee at BAC back in, what, January?  But BAC has an urban campus that doesn’t feel like a college campus.  NLNRU, on the other hand, looks like a movie set for a college campus.  Like a Disney version of a college campus.  Especially for freshman orientation.


Baker’s dozen

So I just got an auto-emailed request for a recommendation for a former NLNRU student who’s applying to film schools.  This shouldn’t be a big deal, because last year I wrote her a very detailed rec that I can cannibalize, but it’s reminded me that I also have thirteen requests, so far, for college recs from SA students.  And that the college counselors have requested that we complete these recs by mid-October–which means about three weeks from now.  Oh dear.  Not quite sure how to fit those in, but I’m going to set a goal of writing four of them this week.  (Gulp.)

I have a couple other goals for this week, too–

  • Work on my second book manuscript.  I’ve decided it needs some reorganizing, and there are two end-of-September prize deadlines I’m determined to make.
  • Make two more brief visits to English classes, thereby continuing the observation process even though I don’t have time to start the formal evaluations yet.

There’s also a long to-do list, but pretty much everything on it has to get done this week, while these goals are things I might put off in favor of the more pressing items on the list.

Monday interim goals, then: 1) One college rec. 2) Half an hour on the second book ms.  3) A ten- or fifteen-minute visit to someone’s class.

Along with the usual stuff: teaching, grading, some work on the online class, taking the Snork Maiden to pick up her new glasses and to her saxophone lesson.  (I don’t think I updated on her jazz audition, by the way.  Her band teacher let her into the jazz ensemble as a clarinet player, but says she’s not ready to play sax in jazz yet.)


I was just getting sleepy when an annoying NLNRU email–actually an email chain between the program chair and the most problematic member of the faculty–popped into my inbox.  I have not blogged about this, and I really can’t do so in any detail; suffice it to say that the only aspect of leaving NLNRU that fills me with unambivalent pleasure is the idea of never, ever having to deal with this whack job again.

Tender is the night

Back from Monday night’s NLNRU class, I am wired in the usual way, so that even though the Snork Maiden has to be at school before 7, necessitating a 6:30 ETD, I am still up past 11.  Oh well.  I won’t miss this part, but my class is good and I am enjoying it.

Bad sign at SA, though: it’s not even Farch yet, but people are getting a little bit testy and fractious.  Or maybe it’s just Romola, who had a hard time getting through all her grading and is moving apartments, to boot.  We had an emergency drill today and Dinah, who was teaching in our room when the drill happened, forgot to bring Romola’s homeroom emergency backpack with her to the assembly area.  Dr. Tea forgot to bring mine, too, but it was seriously no big deal.  The backpacks have first-aid supplies, family contact info, and class rosters so that we can check our attendance at the field.  Romola was bent out of shape because she didn’t have her class roster.  These kids have been her homeroom for three years, though.  It’s not like she and the kids can’t figure out if anyone’s missing.  And part of the point of the drill is–as she acknowledged–to practice what you might do if things get screwed up, anyway.

A small tempest in a very small teapot.  But: I will soon be chairing the teapot! And Romola and Dinah will probably be sharing a room next year!  So I really hope that Romola, who can definitely nurse a grudge, won’t decide to nurse this one.

Wait!  If Romola and Dinah are going to share a room, does that mean I might get my own room next year?  Yes, it does–mean that I might, anyway.  It all depends on whether we can wedge Ph.D. Guy in somewhere that there isn’t currently an English teacher!  (I say “we,” but it isn’t our decision–the GGE is apparently working on it, but I won’t be shocked if we go through multiple potential arrangements until a plan is settled upon.  Gamma, by the way, has her own room, but is currently pregnant and planning to be on maternity leave for the first couple of months of next year.  I am bracing myself for the possibility that we will have to defend her territory–I mean, if she decides to take a reduced schedule when she comes back, she probably will have to share her room, but my view is that as long as she is a full-timer she has her own room by virtue of her seniority.  So I think we need to take a dim view of even any temporary arrangements that involve someone else setting up camp in her room, although I also think SA is sensitive about things like not changing someone’s working conditions while she is off on maternity leave.  The current plan–and this could also change–is that we will cover her courses in-house, so scheduling this year is going to be even more tricky than usual, if such a thing can be imagined.)

The big empty

Either I’m a lazy work-avoider or I’ve gotten good at figuring out what is a waste of my time.  Or maybe neither one of those things is true, but I also think it was a good decision not to trek over to NLNRU today.  The kids were slow getting started; the Snork Maiden’s phone disappeared and was eventually discovered inside the frame of the couch, having slipped through a hole in the lining; I was getting increasingly stressed out as time slipped away.  So I didn’t go.  I think I’ll ask Miz P. to stay late on Monday so that I can go back to the office after class if I need to.

It’s kinda dumb that these files aren’t accessible to me electronically, considering that they are all actually submitted that way, but that’s another issue.


The empty space

So last night I left the Snork Maiden and a friend on their own and went over to NLNRU SA to watch an evening of student-directed scenes and a one-act play.  Teenage acting is, of course, somewhat hit or miss; a couple of years ago, a Chekhov play was too far beyond the grasp of most of our student actors (though I’m sure they learned a lot, the reach must exceed the grasp, etc.), while Our Town worked as well as I can imagine it working with high schoolers.  The first piece, a one-act play by a senior girl, was quite beautiful and also quite well structured, although in my opinion just a bit too long–the energy went slack after a while.  The scenes were surprisingly well done–thoughtfully directed and well executed.  Talent and skill vary, of course, but a director’s good choices are usually discernible.  And we do have some quite talented students.

Now, Sunday, my brainful of things to do feels somewhat lopsided.  A big one is that I need to finish reading a bunch of applications at NLNRU in time for a meeting on Wednesday, and despite the fact that I will be there twice this week, I probably can’t get there early enough from SA to get through all the files before having to meet with students and teach on Monday, or before the meeting itself on Wednesday.  It seems as if I’ll have to go there today, which seems like a waste of time–driving there and back will take an hour and a half in the best possible traffic (which we are unlikely to have; also, the Snork Maiden and her sleepover friend are still asleep, since they were up late, and I’m not quite sure what the plan is regarding getting that friend home today).  But I don’t see an alternative.

Meanwhile, there are other things that need to be done for Monday or Tuesday, but those can be done at home or at school when I’m not teaching–both Monday and Tuesday are lighter teaching days, and I anticipate having at least three hours each day for prepping and grading and whatnot.  Do you see why I say lopsided?  My attention is tilting toward Wednesday’s deadline, while the smaller deadlines have less weight even though they’re closer.  It feels strange.

Meanwhile, the laundry is underway.  I can leave some of it for the Snork Maiden to carry out.

And tonight we have a family thing, so there’s a deadline on completing whatever it is I do today.


Looks like I’m going to have to wake up those kids.

Catching up

We’re into the second semester at both schools, and time really seems to be flying by–almost the end of January!  Of course, soon we’ll be into Farch.

So many things to write about, but busy enough that I’m just going to jot down a few of them here and hope to write one or two non-placeholder posts this weekend.

  • I finished grading the SA exams on time, but ended up a little behind where I wanted to be in planning and prepping, so this week felt very catch-uppy. I’m behind in my writing-group goals, too, so will be working on that this weekend, along with a couple of neglected NLNRU projects.
  • The Snork Maiden and I went to an information session and tour at a public charter high school.  Have I mentioned that we told her that she could look at other schools for high school if she wanted?  It was very interesting and I have a lot of thoughts.  I think, though, that the upshot will be that she will decide to stay at SA.  (Important, though, for her to consider her options.)
  • Knowing that I’m going to be chair next year, I am now starting to look at my departmental colleagues in terms of how they are likely to serve as particular assets or offer particular challenges to me as chair.  It’s not always pretty.
  • I’m in a honeymoon phase with my new junior group.  It helps that we’re beginning with American poetry–I love poetry, of course, and am quite good at getting students to talk about it and feel confident that they can discover something about it.  We are doing a mix of hitting up the historical signposts of American poetry–Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, “The Defense of Fort McHenry,” “To a Waterfowl”–and reading work in a contemporary idiom.  (I am trying to narrate this in a way that will not confuse them.)  So on Friday we had this wonderful discussion about Frank O’Hara’s “Why I Am Not a Painter”–which was good in part because I’ve always been drawn to this poem, but genuinely puzzled by it–and a combination of  confusion and attraction is a wonderful condition in which to approach a poem.  I actually think about it differently after the conversation, which is always a great pleasure, and I’m pretty sure they liked it, too.  (Two of my students, a cheerleader and a student council officer, were supposed to leave class early to prepare for assembly, and both of them said, “Well, we could stay a few more minutes” instead of packing up and racing out the door!)
  • However, I know that the people in this group are objectively weaker writers than average, or they’d be in the AP class at this point (about 60% of our juniors are in AP), plus I have talked with Romola about them.  So this really is the honeymoon period, and soon we will have to start working together on their reading comprehension and writing.  But we’ll have a foundation of having worked successfully on poems together.
  • I’ve got to get cracking on some tasks related to the literary magazine.
  • We’re going to visit Stubb over Presidents’ Day weekend.
  • Despite having a really nice time at NLNRU one day this week, chatting with a visiting writer and attending the master class he gave for our students–one of those special things I anticipate missing–I continue to feel that leaving is a good decision.


Several large pieces of jetsam later, I am minimally prepared for today, or at least for the first part of it.  It is not a heavy teaching day at SA–I have two classes in the morning, and then a little more than three hours ’til my next one.  I will need to use those three hours well and not have too many interruptions, but I should be able to do my off-campus errand, copy my exams, and finish most of my prepping for my NLNRU student conference and class.  Then one more class and off to NLNRU–where, if traffic is no worse than usual, I should also have an hour or so (conservative estimate, as I expect to have to talk to a lot of people in the office) to mull over class and make copies and whatnot.  Once embarked on it, I expect my NLNRU class to go well, although it is going to be a very small class and the interpersonal dynamic will be important, so I’ll need to put some care into establishing that.

And after today, the rest of the week should be quite nice from my perspective, although I won’t say that to my students, who are taking five or more exams this week.  I am proctoring a lot–three times, which is one more than usual for a teacher who is also grading–but Penelope needed this favor and I saw it as an opportunity to help her out.  And of course I will have to grade 58 exams.  I have a whole week to do it in, though, and the Snork Maiden and I will be going home early most days, and I have no classes to prep–okay, that’s not really true, since the new semester starts next week, but it will definitely be a change of pace.  This will be an excellent week, for example, to get back into something resembling regular exercise–I’ve worked out a few times since being sick, but it’s been erratic.  I also have an exciting melange of writing and writing-related goals this week.  Let me–and the Snork Maiden–just stay healthy and get through it all!

All that remains

The break begins at the end of school on Wednesday.  Well, actually, I’m going to take the Snork Maiden home and then come back for the alumni reception–looking forward to seeing some of the Class of 2012.

Before then, I have 58 papers to grade and 8 classes to prep and teach (some requiring very little prep, some requiring quite a bit more).  A couple of meetings, too.

With the holiday performing arts programs over, holiday festivities this week include a breakfast given by the student support staff for the faculty, the monthly faculty and staff appreciation breakfast given by the parents, a “garish holiday attire” day, and probably at least a few students giving gifts to their teachers.  My sense is that this is much more common among the freshmen and that now that I’m not teaching freshmen, there won’t be many.  Which is fine, of course.  I do hope that I will hear from the kids for whom I wrote college letters–at least four of them were applying early, I know.  (They don’t have to bring presents, but occasionally they do.)

When SA is done, I need to read and comment on my NLNRU students’ final projects, which are due today.

Then I’ll enjoy the break, hanging out with the Snork Maiden, getting some much-needed time alone, and seeing family and friends, while also giving some attention to various other projects–some end-of-year deadlines, the draft I finished in Dame Eleanor’s writing group, plans for my NLNRU spring class, and some work on SA finals, which happen in January.  A few days’ visit to Stubb will finish the break nicely.

But before that, 58 papers.