Friday, April 30, 2010

Unrealistic Expectations

"April is the cruellest month." 
- T.S. Eliot "The Waste Land"

When I first got hired at the college, I was warned about April.

In academia, April is:

The month of dead grandmothers. Students come in packs to speak tales of woe about dead grandmothers and how these untimely and tragic deaths prevented them from turning in their work on time. Many of these students forgot that these grandmothers already died earlier in the semester.

The month in which students, who are never more than thirty seconds away from a possible text message, suddenly forget how to use the internet at home to turn in their papers. Suddenly, the technology that they avail themselves of in the middle of class is unavailable at home. It never occurs to them to go to the library. To turn in work before the very last second the assignment link is up. To plan ahead. They seem horrified to learn that this doesn't matter to me, and the work is still not accepted. I know. Bitch. (Say it with a snarl.)

The month of unparalleled audacity. "But I need to get at least a C! I'm on a (fill in the blank) - Pell Grant, athletic scholarship, etc, etc." This sentence of course comes from the student you have not heard from since February. Say it with me now. I'm the bitch.

The month of EverythingEveryonePutOffUntilTheEndOfTheSemesterWhichMustGetDoneNOW. This means assessment plans, performance goal plans, things for next semester that must get implemented before next semester in order to be available next semester, wouldn't-you-like-to-serve-on-the-NCA-self-study committee (NO) ... you get the picture.

The month of the Extra Credit Demand. You'd think I'd be used to the demands by this time. If I wanted something from someone, I like to think I'd ask first. But generally I get the demand instead. My syllabi (which I know no one reads) has a clear no extra credit policy. Still, they ask and then are put out. (Yes, bitch.) To all you teachers out there, here's the response that works: Why should I do more work to accommodate the fact that you did not do enough work? Even the ones with the fake-grandma-mourning clothes on can't speak to that one.

The month of I Used to Love You But I Had to Kill You (don't worry administration, not a veiled threat -- that's a reference to the Guns 'N Roses song ... you remember them, right?) Everyone who looked rosy in August now has a gray pallor. My office, which was once festive and funky, is now just cluttered and dusty and sad. I'm sick of my own itunes mixes, my own lesson plans, and my own voice. It's true. I am a bitch even to myself.

And I do have to tip my hat and my heart to the single student out of the 5000 on campus whose grandmother actually did die (or uncle, or brother, or mother, or friend) and no one believes her because, well, it's April, and let's face it, timing matters. I know. Bitch.

This year, April has brought winds of 70 + mph for days. Snow (twice!) It's been 80, then 40, then 20, then 70. Open toed shoes? Parkas? Mittens? Scarves? Tank tops? Stop!

Today is the last day of April. Go please, April, go gentle into that good night. Rage not against the dying of the light. (Sorry Dylan Thomas).

And if you're a grandmother, hold on for twenty-four more hours. You'll be safe tomorrow.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Crossing Over

This month I have crossed over. I thought I could avoid it. I thought if I ate enough leafy green vegetables, did my eyeball-yoga, and drank enough water, I could avoid it.

But it came for me anyway.

Genetics trumps eyeball-yoga.

About ten years ago, I walked into my mom's house and saw her reading. She had a pair of reading glasses on over her regular eyeglasses. She has a little nose so the two pair of glasses didn't really fit on the bridge. It was both funny and horrifying. As the mother goes, so does the daughter.

The last time I went to the optometrist, he told me (young, young man that he was) that I probably had one more year to go before I needed bifocals. I'd already succumbed to reading glasses with my contacts because it was more horrifying to stand in front of my class and not be able to read from the textbook than it was to take on and off stylish reading glasses. I developed a swish and a flair with the ceremonious taking on and off of the purple glasses. I pushed them down on my nose so I could peer over them in true old-lady-English-teacher fashion. I was one step away from polyester and a beehive hairdo.

But bifocals. That's different. It is simply not possible that I am a person of enough miles to need those things.

The next thing that has come for me is the inability to wear my contacts more than about ten hours a day. They told me this would come for me too, but I did not believe it. I floss. I stretch. I eat barley. But it did. So, when I get home from work and put on my glasses, I cannot read anything because, um, I can't see the pages.


I put on a pair of reading glasses OVER my existing eyeglasses. I have a little nose too. I'm sure it's both funny and horrifying. But, um, I can read again at night. And as long as I can put one pair of glasses over another, I won't need to get a bifocal prescription. Right?


This post is for our kitty, Shelter. 

She grew old and sick in the last year with no attachment to what had come before.  
We had to put her down on Friday, and in that moment too, with all of us holding her,
she still had no attachment to what had come before, 
and no concern about what was coming next. 

We love you.