Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Five

1. I finally went to the doctor about my back. I felt a lot better last week, but then the pain returned over the weekend and got steadily worse this week. The last few nights have been mostly sleepless, and last night was a little scary. I woke up at about 2 a.m., flat on my back in the middle of the bed and totally unable to move. If I tried to roll to the right---or even to move my right leg the slightest bit---I was seized by terrible muscle spasms. My left leg simply wouldn’t move at all. I lay there for about two hours, alternately screaming in pain and crying from the futility of it. I began to think that I’d have to call 911 to be rescued from my own bed. But then I remembered that the kitchen was piled with dishes and I have drifts of dog hair in the living room, and the pain of getting myself out of bed seemed to pale in comparison to the embarrassment of having strangers see my messy home.

I did eventually lever myself out of the bed, doped myself up on some oxycodone I had left from having a wisdom tooth out last summer, strapped a heating pad to my back, and curled up on the couch for a few hours of fitful sleep.

I went to the doctor this afternoon. After some very brief poke and prod, she declared that I had pulled a muscle, gave me a sheet of back stretches, and prescribed some heavy duty muscle relaxers. Some very heavy duty relaxers. The pharmacist actually called the doctor to doublecheck the dosage because she thought it was an error. So I’ll be spending the weekend very doped up. Should make grading exams very interesting.

2. Now, I know that for a doctor, a pulled muscle is just a routine diagnosis, but I do think that the doctor could have been a little more thorough and concerned, especially considering how distraught I was during the appointment. She seemed like she couldn’t shuttle me out fast enough so she could start the weekend.

3. I finished my first TA appointment yesterday. This past week was rough. The students got their midterms back on Monday, and the average was a low C, so I had a lot of unhappy campers. Of course, their poor performance was all because I’m an unfair grader. Among my favorite responses:
“I didn’t know I had to answer all the parts of the essay question. I thought they were just suggestions.”
“Don’t you know how discouraging it is to get so many points taken off?”
“I work really hard, so I deserve a better grade.”
“But I wrote so much. Don’t I get any credit for that?”
Apparently asking for accuracy and articulateness is just plain unreasonable. As is asking them to take notes in lecture (a whole other story).

Overall, I enjoyed TAing. I had some really intelligent, interesting, and fun students. Unfortunately, the students who are doing well and enjoying the class don’t come to office hours, so I’ve only been hearing the negative. (Although I did have one student who was very sweet and supportive after seeing how her fellow students were acting about their midterm grades.)

4. Just a few more days of grading---and some fun drugs to get my back in shape---and then maybe I can start my summer. I’ve got a stack of library books, piles of magazines, and a membership with the university sailing program. Oh, and some pesky prelims and proposals to work on.

5. I’ve made no progress on revising my proposal. In fact, I’m making the opposite of progress. The more I think about it, the more muddied the whole thing gets. And don’t bother telling me not to think about it. If you know me at all, you know that I’m not capable of not worrying an issue. I have all these disparate strands: development, popular culture, media, voluntourism, cross-cultural negotiation, concepts of poverty, neoliberalism, philanthrocapitalism, Millennium Villages Project, exchange. But I don’t have any kind of theoretical framework that ties all these strands into a coherent whole.



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