Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I'm Done!

But then, not so much.

I finished grading the exams and submitted the final grades (with a generous curve, because we wouldn't want the students to think that college was, like, hard or anything).

So I should be done, right?


Oh yeah---those pesky prelims. That I still cannot make myself finish. Even though I know I have an absolute deadline. And even though I know that the sooner I get them done, the sooner I can have some real downtime.

I've always been a procrastinator, but I've never been this bad about it. And I'm not sure if it's paralysis or apathy.


The abundance of end-of-year and farewell get-togethers is not helping. I'm trying to be somewhat selective in which ones I attend---mostly because I'm both tired and broke---but even then, I've been to one at least every other day for the past week. And knowing that I probably won't see many of these people for at least year---if not more---makes it harder to turn down invitations.


At least I'm being a productive knitter. I finished a shrug in a mere four days. Of course, the shrug turned out to be doll-sized, so perhaps not so productive.

I really like the general pattern, though, so I might try again with some modifications for size.

Now I'm working on a sweater shell---the same one that I frogged just a few months ago (same pattern, different yarn).


Really, I just want a nice 9-5 library job that leaves my evenings free to read and knit and watch the telly.

I am so lame.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Grade This!

I'm done! Almost.

All I have left to do for this semester is grade the students' final exams (and calculate their grades, but I already have a spreadsheet set up to do that for me). So you would think that I'd be plowing through the pile of blue books so I could get done as soon as possible. That would be the logical, responsible thing to do.

And that's me: logical and responsible. (Pushing the computer away so it isn't harmed by the lightening bolt)

Yeah. So far today, I've taken the dog for a walk, finished a mystery novel (The Last Place by Laura Lippman), surfed through my usual Internet haunts about a dozen times, and eaten lunch. I did sort the exams into sections. So, progress?


I've also been obsessively checking for my own grades. Because no matter how old I get or how well I know how long grading can take, I'm always impatient for the report card.


I am so burned out on grad school. Getting a grant gave me a slight burst of renewed enthusiasm, but that burst burned out rather quickly. And I still have quite a bit to get done before I can leave for Malawi in August: writing two more prelims and revising my proposal, submitting two IRB protocols, and getting myself packed up and my life shut down for 10 months.

Again, the responsible, logical thing would be to get my work done as soon as possible so I have some time to enjoy the summer. Instead, I'm dragging my heels. Total denial that I have to submit my prelims by July 1, that I'm leaving in mid-August, that I'll be gone for almost a year.


If you ever want to suck the love and joy out of something, make it your dissertation topic.


So I should grade exams this afternoon. Or I should take a nap, work on our group novel about Zombia,* and maybe catch up on some DVR'd television. I might even go for a run to offset the ridiculous amount of food and alcohol I've consumed this week.**

* An idea born of grad-school burn-out and too much alcohol.
** I finally bought jeans in the next size down only to undo all my good work in a week-long food binge. Gah!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Homey Things

My students are taking up all of my time and mental energy. The weather is just dreadful (40s in May?!). And another long term has come to an end. Even though I still have two prelims and a proposal to write by July 1 (prelim date: August 2!), I haven't been able to get myself to much non-TA work this week.

I, however, did manage to attempt homemade pizza. Homemade pizza really shouldn't be that difficult. But crusts of all kinds are my nemeses. And anything that involves yeast tends to be a spectacular disaster in my kitchen.

Yes, I could just order very good pizza from the local pizzeria and have it delivered to my door. I could even buy dough from the same pizzeria if I wanted to save a little money or use my own toppings or just have super-fresh-from-the-oven pizza.

But I feel like I really ought to be able to bake a pizza from scratch. And Cooking Light had a whole section devoted to making pizzas in this month's issue.

So I gave it another go. I made the dough on Monday night because it needed to rest for 24 hours. I needed two tries with the yeast before I got it to do anything near "bubbling." And when I tried using what I thought was the dough hook on the ancient mixing stand that I got second-hand from my mother (she got it as a wedding gift!), the dough snaked up the beater and into the innards of the mixer. So I spent most of Monday night with a power drill and a screwdriver, dismantling the mixer and scraping out dough (along with some other substances that I'd rather not think about).

I baked the pizza on Wednesday. I didn't properly roll the dough, so the center was too thin and the sides were too thick. But the crust generally baked up nice and bready and golden. I think I would probably prebake the crust a bit the next time; even with laying down a layer of cheese, the bottom got a bit soggy from the sauce. And I'll definitely use a different sauce next time; the recipe in Cooking Light came out too oily and thin for my taste.

But I made pizza!

I also started a new knitting project---a shrug---inspired by Bearette. After spending one whole evening making swatches out of every skein in my stash, I then spent most of a morning going to yarn shops in search of the right yarn, only to end up getting a yarn that I could have bought at the first place.

I've got a good start on the shrug, although I'm beginning to think that I really should have used a circular needle; the straight needle is getting very crowded and I still have about six more increase rows to go.

Perhaps I'll take my knitting with me to work on as I monitor my students' final tomorrow---a modern-day Madame Defarge.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

An Apology

I'm sorry that you ignored the minimum requirements for the assignment despite having the requirements sent to you by e-mail, posted on the course Web site, reiterated in class, and resent by e-mail.

I'm sorry that you didn't understand that a research paper requires you to do research.

I'm sorry that you decided to treat this course as a blow-off class even though it's required for you to graduate.

I'm sorry that you tried to bullshit your way through the paper and I called you on it.

I'm sorry that I expected you, a college student, to be able to write a clear thesis.

I'm sorry that I expected you to provide evidence to back up your specious arguments.

I'm sorry that I expected you to know how to cite references properly and to format a bibliography.

I'm sorry that I enforced the rules that I said I would enforce in the way that I said that I would enforce them.

I'm sorry that you discovered that your actions have consequences.

I'm sorry that no one ever told you that you have to earn your grades.

I'm sorry that you have to study for the final because you blew off the paper.

I'm sorry that I didn't select your topic, identify and read appropriate research materials, provide an outline, and write your paper for you.

I'm sorry that I thought a college student could write a 5-page analytical research paper in just three months.

Mostly, I'm truly sorry that the rest of you had to read yet another rant from me.