Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Katie From Kalamazoo Has Got a Real Life Friend. (It's Her BFF.) She Wanted Us Grumpy Farts To Know, And We Wanted You To Know, Too.

I haven't been by to check out you old grumpy farts for a while, so I logged in over the weekend and just read the terrible bullshit you've been complaining about. I don't know exactly how many people write for you, but you're all such downers.

While I admit that students can sometimes be a trial, none of you seem capable of really enjoying the jobs you have, or celebrating the really great students who come into all of our lives.

Last weekend I spent some time with one of my former students, one who I've written about before (and whose relationship who shit on), and one whose progress and success I take a lot of pride in and some credit for.

Anyway, she and I had dinner together at a local eatery, and all of her close friends were there. It was such a kick meeting them because I felt like I knew them already. We sat around and talked for hours, and got a little tipsy in the process.

Once, when she and I were alone, we both confided that we were so happy that after class was over how deep our friendship had grown. I swear we both cried and hugged and she told her other friends that I was her newest and best BFF. It was so crazy. I felt like such a complete success, because I taught the hell out of her when she was my student, and now we're best of friends.

This is what you people are missing out on. You close yourselves off to these wonderful people who study in our classes, and you're simply aloof prigs for not leaving yourself open to these fantastic relationships.

Anyway, we were all blind drunk at the end of the night and when I woke up the next morning I had the warmest feeling. I had a new BFF, and all of her great friends are my friends, too. What did you accomplish this weekend? Did you bitch about how stupid students are? Well, maybe you're missing the whole point.


Monday, January 18, 2010

Some Final Cookie Perspectives. Seriously.

Val, your recent post gives me reason to believe that you genuinely care about the feelings and self-esteem of students; indeed, the concern that you express about students feeling "safe enough" to join class discussions indicates a deep commitment to creating a warm, loving environment in which students can participate.

In other words, you're a goddamn snowflake coddler.

It's not that I disagree that different styles of teaching are better suited to different students; that's a perfectly valid point to make. Or rather, it would be, if the discussion was about teaching methods. The topic in question involves bringing in "special treats" for students, and if that's actually a good practice. Whether or not you pass out fattening sweets to an already abundantly corpulent study body in no way affects the manner in which you deliver information, assess learning, or provide feedback. What it does affect is the way in which you (and, significantly, other teachers) are perceived by the class.

I don't care how you parse it - giving out cookies in class is something that is correctly associated with elementary education. When you distribute baked goods to your class, you signal to the students that this is not a mature exploration of knowledge conducted by rational adults; rather, you indicate that the college classroom is no different than Ms. Thistletwat's kindergarten classroom. It's one of the those little things that speaks great volumes to students, just like the way you dress and the way you speak. I know that tie-dyed mouth breathers like you can't bear the thought of putting on a nice skirt or a clean pair of pants, but surprisingly, young adults act more like adults if you act like one (instead of acting like a "cool aunt," which is what morons like you ultimately aspire to).

What is particularly offensive about your post is your namby-pamby call for "tolerance" or some such bullshit: "[I]t's their classroom, so should anyone really be judging them for using the method that they think is appropriate?"

Actually, yes, we should be judging you, because the expectations that you create in your classroom are often carried by students into the classrooms of other professors... you know, the ones that act like professionals? Your self-centered approach to teaching, in which you put the well-being of students (and the university at large) behind your own pathetic need to be "cool" and "liked" by your students is even worse than the egotism of the snowflakes- you should know better.

College classrooms can be a scary place, but so can the real world. The IRS isn't going to give these kids cookies to encourage them to ask for help on their income tax return, and no boss is going to give them stupid rewards to encourage them to pull their weight at the office. Your job as an educator isn't to provide them with courage or self-esteem; it's to give them a reason to feel confident about themselves... by showing them how to act and teaching them how to think.

Doing anything else isn't teaching- it's trying to be their friend.


Did anyone bother reading the comments on the Chronicle piece?

Most of the cookie-bringers openly confess they do it because they have a "refreshments" budget or some-such.

Gee, how many of them actually tell their precious cherubs the money's not theirs?

How many of them ever pipe up at faculty meetings and say, "Hey, you know, we really should just divvy up this windfall among the plebes working for us so they can get the kudos too"?

How many of these tenured or tenure-track faculty members ever actually suggest they use that money to, you know, pay their adjuncts a livable wage instead of spending obscene amounts of money on Taco bars and movie nights that everyone knows have spurious pedagogical value?

Cuz, here's the thing: I really don't care if Professor Tenured uses her personal money to bake cookies or buy doughnuts or throw pizza parties. It's her money, her time in class, whatever.

But I do get my knickers in a knot when I am being judged more harshly because I lack the economic resources to buy the snowflakes' affection as well. If I am barely making enough to pay my rent and feed myself, where am I supposed to find the money to bribe the cherubs with Dunkins and Snickers? Cuz we all know I, as an adjunct, am not getting all that special refreshment money being tossed hither and yon to the "real" faculty (you know, the ones actually invited to faculty meetings and such).

In grad school, I encountered my first colleague who was a briber-with-treats: Treaty Trish. TT wasn't on an assistantship, but she managed to wrangle a TA position because the department was desperate. In order to ensure her future teaching opportunities via good evals, Treaty Trish proceeded to coddle and bribe and kiss the ass of every student in her section. Then I found out TT was bringing donuts every morning she taught. Treaty Trish's daddy paid her rent and her tuition and her car payments, so she had all this extra pin money to use to bribe her students. And let's be serious, that's what she was doing. And it worked: Treaty Trish became the beloved, understanding, easy-going (if incompetent...ssshhh...don't tell anyone...especially all her new undergrad friends) TA and I became the mean, villainous cretin who never brought donuts or candy or printed their e-mailed papers or anything else that required me using my personal money for them. I didn't have it to waste on adults who were supposed to be responsible for themselves. I was already learning the shake-the-inkjet-cartridge trick to get my own papers printed! And if I bought a donut, it was as a bribe for myself to get through reading and grading the snowflakes' illiterate scrawl.

As far as I know, Treaty Trish is still whoring herself out to any department desperate enough to hire her. I, on the other hand, stopped getting rehired. Is it because I'm incompetent, or is it just because I didn't have the money to bribe the students into doing their work or giving me great evaluations?

If only I had that cookie budget, I too could have baked (or bought) for my snowflakes. Nestle Toll House for everyone!


What the hell is wrong with you people? Step back for a second. You're arguing the pedagogical implication of...cookies. I can think of four cases involving food in the classroom right now that ought to end this discussion right now.
  1. Ms. Super-Adjunct. Used to bring candy to class fairly regularly. Led a lively and informal class, did a thorough job of teaching her material and communicating her enthusiasm about the subject matter. I learned a lot in that class.

  2. Ms. Cupcake. Had a cupcake party during a class session once. Nice enough class, but the subject matter was painfully obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together. I learned absolutely nothing in the class, but her general demeanor made showing up somewhat more pleasant than it would have been otherwise.

  3. Ms. SuperProf-Extraordinaire. Hands out candy after halloween and during finals. Absolutely the most incredible teacher I have ever been taught by. Usually comes off kind of bitchy, takes no shit from anyone, and Knows Her Shit. Despite the thoughtful candy-handouts, she is almost universally hated.

  4. Ms. Bumblefuck. Handed out food a couple of times in class. This was her first year teaching, and she blundered her way through it. Universally despised for sheer incompetence.

Whether or not you hand out food doesn't fucking matter. (Sample size: 4. Totally statistically significant.)

You know what matters? Knowing your shit and knowing how to teach it in a coherent way. If you choose to hand out food, great. That was nice of you. If you don't, no worries. Your Costco-candy is not what we come to class for.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

That Cookie Thing May One Day Be Seen As Our Defining Issue. Some Flava From the RYS Mailbag.

There's been a steady stream of "cookie" emails. Here are some short notes, and then on Monday we have some longer pieces we'll post.

  • When will you all realize that bringing donuts or candy or baked goods to class isn't just about the students? It's my version of bringing a flask to class--they aren't the only ones who get to eat the stuff. I tend to bring snacks to class when I've had a particularly bad week, and I've baked something sugary and fattening to destress. The class that was the one bright spot in the dismal mess--or contributed the least to the badness--gets a treat, and I get someone to help me eat a tray of brownies so I don't end up eating them all myself.

  • While I was teaching, not bringing munchies to class could have resulted in disciplinary action for not creating a "safe" learning environment. On the other hand, when I started on my first master's degree 30 years ago, the only way the department could get the grad students to attend the weekly seminars was to bribe them with food. If it didn't, we would have stayed away in droves because most of the sessions were brain-numbingly dull.

  • I didn't think I'd do this, but the first time the debate went around, for some reason, it made me LESS self conscious. I bring my HS students juice every test day. I bring my college kids juice for the final because I figure after they've already done their evals, it can't look that suspicious. I'd bring in coffee for the college kids, but I'm too cheap.

  • I love bringing little baked treats to my students. I have a really powerful relationship with my students, and since I'm great in the kitchen, I like to share that special part of myself with my students.

  • I don't know how anyone can not see the bringing of food or "treats" to college students as anything other than pandering. How desperate and lonely are these people?

  • I'm a senior at a big football school in the Pac-10. I've had a couple of professors bring brownies to our class. They were the worst instructors I ever had, and all they were doing was trying to soften us up for evaluations. It didn't work. I ate 2 brownies each day and slammed them anyway. How'd that work out?

  • Maybe I'm missing some pedagogical implication, but I don't see anything in the bringing of cookies to class that has anything to do with the teaching of said class. There's the distinct stench of desperation in the act, and those who don't see it must be a little cockeyed.

  • I think one of your earlier posts said it all about those who bring cookies: I would bet you're not liked very much by your students. That's a shame, because the relationship between teacher and student can be so rewarding. My students call me "Mom." We get along and we do great work together. I have the very highest standards, just as if they were my own children, and even though people in my own department jealously make fun of me, my students are behind me and support our shared learning environment. Maybe you like to be an unfeeling information conduit, but many of us TEACH in the classroom, and make lifelong relationships with the most treasured people we'll ever meet - OUR STUDENTS.

  • Sometimes a cookie is just a cookie.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Ruby from Richmond On Locked Doors.

Dear University,

Please stop locking my classroom. I mean it. I assure you that I teach in there, and I teach in there the same time every day, several days a week, and in fact on the same days every week. I realize you believe that I am Gumby and can pass through the locked door at my leisure, but alas, I am not Gumby.

When the door is locked, and I call the number I've been instructed to call in such situations, please actually answer the phone. If you cannot, please at least change the ironic voicemail that asks me to call back between certain hours--when the current time is between those hours. When you fail me, I end up calling Campus Security instead, and trust me, in this city, they have more important things to deal with.

I'm a relatively punctual person, but when I'm on the Interstate jammed in traffic, I know I won't arrive at class until the moment it's scheduled to begin, and I won't have time to deal with a locked door. I know that my students will see the locked door, and while some of them will sit in the hallway, others will wander off and later tell me that "the door didn't work" and that this should count as an excused absence. I know that when I do arrive, the students sitting in the hallway will invariably line up behind me like baby chicks as I approach the door, as though I have a key and will instantly let them in. I have no key. I am not allowed to have a key. I am an adjunct.

They will then watch, baffled, as I take out my cell phone and start angrily calling numbers to try to get the room unlocked. I lose authority in their eyes. Several weeks into the semester, with this happening at least weekly, they may stop lining up, or they may stop showing up. And the same annoying kid always tries to help in the most unhelpful ways: "Can I try picking the lock? Can we try the key to my dorm room? It looks the same! Can we have class outside? Can we cancel class? Why don't they give you a key? Why do they always lock this room? My friend drives a campus shuttle. Maybe he can help!"

Oh! Would that I were Gumby!


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Estella, the Mistress of Etiquette, With Some Email Rules.

I never want to become one of those “nit-picky” instructors, but I am going to have to about one thing… email communication.

For a generation that has ALWAYS communicated through technology, they are some of the worst users I have ever encountered. I think that it has little to do with knowledge of technology etiquette, but pure, unadulterated, narcissism. “This is from me, it’s obviously very important, I don’t need to follow simple etiquette rules.”

I am going to have to address this next semester, as part of my first day lecture…

  1. Use the student email system. I know some of you are older and already have work email, and personal email and don’t want to add another one for school, but you don’t have a choice. The college said you have to use it. I have to use it too, and it’s just my part time job. I was lax last semester since it was the first time we had student email, but not now. Can you go into a job and tell your boss, you’d prefer to use your gmail account at work? You can’t do it here either. Plus, I don’t know which one of you is “sweetbaby69@yahoo,” so you really need to start using the student email, which is based on YOUR NAME. And you need to change that email address. I used to hire recent college grads, and people with that type of email address did NOT get called back.

  2. Put a subject line in your email. Seriously. We don’t have the type of relationship where I read just anything you send me. That’s for lovers, friends, families, and supervisors (I need my job.) I used to work with someone who NEVER put subjects on his emails. We used to call his emails JRIB’s (just read it, bitches.) It was rude and wrong; however, he was the VP of the territory and my boss’s boss. You are my student. You need a subject line. Furthermore, please do not think that responding to an email I previously sent (which had subject line, I’m a professional) constitutes a subject line. When you respond to my beginning of the semester “Welcome Students” email right after the mid-term exam, I’m just going to assume your email says “Welcome to you, too!” and delete it – even though it was probably a question about your grade. But, how was I supposed to know that? If you can’t bother to start a new message and type in my email address, which can be found on the SYLLABUS and in the look-up feature for the system (but you have to know my name), at least change the previous subject line when you respond to my old one.

  3. Use your name in your document title when you save it. I instruct two classes, that’s generally 30+ written assignments, three times a semester. “My paper,” “Paper 1,” and “Paper” are not good document titles - EVER. This reminds me of back in the day, when doc titles could only contain 8 letters. We’re on Word 2007 now people, you can title your document anything you want, with as many letters as you want, and even using a few symbols (gasp!) Try a title like, “Jane Doestranolpouskis – Paper 1.” See, I can tell the writer and the assignment. And even though her name is long, it still works. And if, god-willing, I give you the opportunity to re-write (as you will probably need it), try “Jane Doestranolpouskis – Paper 1 – Rewrite.” Beautiful.

  4. PUT YOUR FUCKING NAME ON THE ASSIGNMENT. Seriously, this is kindergarten, nursery school really. IT REALLY SUCKS when you call the document “My Paper” AND you don’t put your name on the assignment either. Why should I have to trace your assignment back to the email (with no subject line, from “sweetbaby69”) to figure out who wrote it so I can put the grade in Blackboard. This pisses me off, and I might, just possibly, forget a few grades points while I’m trying to figure out the paper owner. Think about it.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Helen from Hearne Does Some of that Old School Smackdown That This Page Used to Feature Before It Went Entirely Off the Rails.

Jeff, da'cop:
Aww, cute! your final paper came attached to an email littered with emoticons sent from your personal account (really? toughguy69?!). That you cannot follow submission instructions directing you to submit a printed copy the last day of class given to you in verbal, syllabus, and emailed format really makes me worry about your ability to follow police protocol. Good thing you're a toughguy, guess the only thing you could reliably use on us hapless citizens is your night stick.

Janice, Esquire, Secretary to Mayor Tweedledum:
You probably guessed this by now, but I hate you, I really really hate you. Over the course of the semester, I finished an entire bottle of Excedrin on your behalf. I think the others in the class did too. You remember how I said this was an ethics class? Remember that part about how we were going to talk about general principles and ethical decision-making theories in class, but that it was your job to apply it to your work in your course papers? Yeah, I do and so did everyone else who had to listen to you (before I started to cut you off) talk about your work-life as if it was an ethical decision-making theory.

Jennifer, "may I please please please be your thesis student?":
No, no, no and, uh, no. I know you were a philosophy undergrad and are really bored in this course, but you enrolled in this program knowing you must take this course. I am not giving you "philosophy level assignments" (whateverthehell that means) because you've allegedly read Kant before. You're barely able to write an intelligible email. You have a C- in this course and know that means an F- in graduate school speak, but still think you're going to be in the program after this semester and that being my thesis student already will give you a lifeline. Again, I say, NO!

Javon, international exchange student:
I am sorry the rest of the students refer to you as "Borat," they are jerks. I am sorry that you have visa trouble. Me too. But, just because we're foreigners together, doesn't mean we're buddies. Also, Jeff is right, you should investigate deodorant... you're lovely and probably an asset to your country, but you do smell like a goat.

Jasper, the AARP card having, USAF retiree:
Thank you for being in this class. I saved every one of your papers until last, every single time I had to grade (remember those weekly memos? I want to bronze yours.) You read, you can write, you are interesting and interested. Too bad you may die too soon to convert many more people to the Hard knock school of respect, diligence and good grammar.

Sal from Saginaw on Working in the Trenches, Virtue, and What It Means to Non-STEMmers Everywhere.

"By comparison, whether one has used a correct preposition or split an infinitive may seem somewhat trivial compared with whether or not one's design has incorporated a sufficient safety factor."

So says Quinn from Quebec, in a passage of most engineer-like prose that sums up the collective STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) attitude toward the humanities and those who teach them.

I'm not one of those humanities types who thinks that STEM teachers have it incredibly easy with their Scantrons and such. I have great respect for people who teach things in disciplines that differ from mine. I enjoy great cross-discipline collegiality, in large part because I (gently) foster conversations about the different challenges we all face from discipline to discipline. It's then that I am able to steer conversations toward shared problems and finally toward goals as well as strategies to reach them. It's a sneaky and often undervalued little skill I've developed through years of training in my discipline. (Hint: It's called "rhetoric" for those not in the know. Rhetoric in an informal setting--over, say, an adult beverage--can be even more effective. Including non-work related rhetoric can also prove effective. Just a suggestion from your humble servant in the humanities.)

I currently work at Large Dead-City Community College, where I teach mostly developmental writing, by choice. ("Developmental" equals "remedial," for those not in the know.) For many years, however, I worked as a TA and lecturer at Big Box Midwestern U, where I spent two god-awful years working for engineers. Well, in theory I was working with engineers but that's not how they saw it. While there, I developed a university-mandated, upper-level expository writing class for engineering students, one that earned the very public praise of BBMU's academic affairs office--which meant nothing to my dean in engineering, who thereafter suggested I take his class in course design. I also taught two sections of that class per term, ran a drop-in tutoring center for engineering students, trained engineering TAs to tutor in that center, trained engineering TAs to design and grade lab report assignments, tutored graduate-level engineering students who needed help with writing (and there were many), provided professional development in business and technical communication for all engineering staff and faculty (yes, faculty!), proofread the division's quarterly publication (even though the publication had its own full-time staff), and advised the undergraduate student engineering publication. In theory, every year-to-year lecturer with my rank and pay had a workload of two classes per term, period. My engineering colleagues of the same rank and pay taught two classes per term. Period. I left when my dean asked me to fill out time cards. After I left, they hired two TAs to fill my position and then eliminated it--and then took a huge AQIP hit for having done so.

When teaching expository writing to engineering students at BBMU, the lesson was never about using a correct preposition (except with non-native speakers, of course) or avoiding a split infinitive. The reading and writing assignments were designed to get students to think about their discipline, about their choices as professionals, about how their future work would impact the various recipients of their expertise. (Translation for Quinn: My course was designed to get students to solve problems, think of their works' impact on end-users, and to have a more comprehensive understanding of what happens when their design does not incorporate sufficient safety factors.)

While Quinn and many other STEM instructors do encounter the profound stupidity rampant among today's college students (as Farouk from Fox Hollow reminds us), what Quinn doesn't realize is that as an engineering teacher, he gets to teach students who choose to take his classes; in fact, he gets the cream of the academic crop, if he teaches only engineering students. My engineering students at BBMU were a very bright bunch. They were shocked when they received Ds on their essays after not having taken the work seriously. They were grateful when allowed to revise and rarely made the same mistakes twice. They were, in short, very different from the general student population.

Those of us in the trenches--the vast majority of English and math teachers of all ranks, I'd argue--work harder than most people realize and encounter stressors that many professors of upper-level and elective courses never face. It doesn't make us any more virtuous than STEM folks or others who teach courses for which gen-eds are prerequisites, but neither does it make us any less valuable. It's never about that split infinitive; it's always about teaching critical thinking and clear ways to communicate. With nearly one-third of incoming college freshmen lacking the skills to succeed in college-level composition classes, one-half lacking necessary reading comprehension skills, and more than half lacking the skills to succeed in college algebra, perhaps Quinn and his colleagues should instead thank us trench-level workers in the humanities (and math, although I don't think they feel quite so undervalued) who do what we can so that all Quinn and the STEM teachers have to do when it comes to their students' writing is think about prepositions and infinitives.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Morose and Middle Aged Mark From Mantua Doesn't Get the Conference Angst.

Enough of the bitching. I like conferences. I look forward to them. I love living near DC because there’s at least one decent conference here every year or two counting a couple of the specialty small fry. Want to enjoy a conference for a change? Try these simple guidelines.
  1. Make arrangements with a buddy to get together for dinner/drinks. Nothing like sitting down with a friend that you don’t have to smooze to lighten the mood. And while you’re at it, take your SO out to a nice dinner away from the hotel.

  2. Go hang out in the book exhibit. Cheap books in your discipline! Come on, we’re academics. We love to read. We’ve seen each other’s houses. I’ve seen small-town libraries with fewer books. Just ignore the would-be authors and publisher reps doing the kiss-up butt sniff two step and for God’s sake, avoid the textbook hawkers in aisle one. Just walk around the silverbacks beating their chests trying to intimidate their rivals in the aisles. The rest of the place is heaven on Earth. Check out the books in areas outside your own specialty. Go sneak a peek at the book in your area and see if they footnoted you (that bastard better have!) That history of prostitution in the Gilded Age that you don’t dare ask about in your school’s library? There a stack of them for sale for less than you’ll spend on a lousy dinner in the hotel.

    Grad students: go check books out in those areas your advisor sneers at. Better yet, check out the books in areas that are not covered at your school. No proffie in your department covers Southern European immigration to Asia? Hell, there’s at least a few books on that here. Go grab one and stand there and read the intro and conclusion. Maybe there’s something there that will interest you. If you leave the conference with less than a shopping bag’s worth of books you’re doing it wrong.

  3. Visit the city for Christ’s sake. At my very first conference as a grad student I skipped an afternoon panel to see an exhibit of French impressionists at the local museum. Yeah my advisor was pissed, that’s one reason why I switched advisors. But, I would have forgotten the panel presentations I was supposed to see by the time I got home. I will always remember spending an afternoon studying Monet’s haystack series. Last year in New York I skipped an afternoon at the AHA, walked through the lower East Side and visited the building where the Triangle Waist Company was in 1911. Which do you think will better help me teach my students: a boring paper by an ABD on the latest theory or me actually looking up at the building where all those poor people died that awful afternoon?

  4. OK, go see a panel or two. Forget the panels with the silverbacks. They wrote the paper on the plane and will spend the time joking with their buddies and sniping at their rivals. Go see a panel with a couple fresh Ph.D.s in an area close enough to your own that you’ll be interested, but not so close that you already know it already. The best panel I ever saw was on Davey Crockett. Picked up some great stories that I use in lectures to this day and learned some things. Hell, isn’t that why we’re academics? We still love to learn things?
Now go have fun. Hell, this is the closest we’re going to get to a vacation this year that doesn’t involve seeing somebody’s in-laws so we might as well enjoy it!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

We Never Tire of Wichita Witchy Coming to Us For Help. Yet We've Also Never Been Able to Help Her. Thus is the Curse.

My college adviser told me to take out the line about wanting to be a professional student out of my grad school application and, in her recommendation, she wrote that, although my project seemed too broad and ambitious, I'd manage to narrow it down.

That was over seven years ago. Since then, I've married, divorced, remarried, lived in three boroughs, learned to ski, saw the pyramids, climbed the Eiffel Tower and walked the streets of Venice, mastered Judaism and GarageBand, gave up on my rock-n-roll career, picked it up again, composed and recorded an album, starred in and produced two music videos, got a tattoo, and I'm still a goddamn student with a huge thesis that requires rewriting the entire European history of ideas.

I am a master at procrastinating. I do everything just to avoid writing my dissertation. I brew and have tea. I surf the net. I clean the toilet. I use the toilet. I make more tea. I go to the gym. I play my guitar. I write to RYS. I bitch to my friends about how much time I waste on bullshit. I tell my therapist the same. Hell, I've even gone to a psychologist at school whose specialty is to help people with their dissertations.

I'm on my fourth title. I've got scraps of chapters which have put people to sleep at boring conferences; a waste of fucking time and travel expenses. I've managed to birth an introduction. In fact, I've got five fucking introductory chapters, not counting the zillion outlines through which my supervisor, bless her heart, puts me through because, shit, she has much more faith in me than I.

But whom am I trying to fool here? I got a 4.0 and was a poster child for Silly College and went to grad school because I had no fucking clue what else to do with a degree in English and philosophy. I passed all my pointless exams with distinction at Pointless University, and I submitted and got my pointless prospectus approved. But that shit doesn't get me anywhere. I hate writing now. I even hate reading. And, most of all, I hate preparing and teaching inane lectures which will be misquoted by morons who can't even spell my bloody name. One of them asked me why anyone would want a degree in English, and all I could say was to ensure a life of poverty.

I've become too cynical for my own good, and this has cost me at least one friendship with a person who dropped out of grad school and got a fucking job. Meanwhile, I'm putting things on my wedding registry for which I don't even have space or use, for that matter, because my husband and I rent, and he, like me, needs RYS to keep him afloat, and also needs a fucking job. At least he's written his thesis and went to the MLA and bitched about it plenty.

Thank god my brother's a full-blown yuppie, so mom and dad can funnel money my way, but they're not getting any younger, and nor am I. I would go corporate, like effing Effie, but I'm a wordsmith, not an engineer. Please, please, please, help me drop out or give me one single reason why I should waste another seven years on a degree that will lead to absolutely nothing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Something Old School For a New Year.

Philosophy Barbie:
Yes, you're unbelievably hot. Yes, you dress nice. And, yes, I do quiver a bit inside when you smile and flash those big blue eyes at me - I'm still alive, aren't I? You do well in class and I've even seen you campus events relevant to our topic. So why is it that you make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up? Oh, yeah, your professed "love" of Ayn Rand. If that's what you think philosophy is supposed to be like, you're probably not going to do as well as you'd hoped when you get to the upper-division courses.

Baked Bennie:
You were always surprised when you didn't do very well on the tests. How is that? You wander in halfway through class, when you show up at all, and usually leave early. You're clearly stoned. You tell me you were an "all-A" student in high school. Really? Where? Sounds like a fun place.

Power Ranger Pete:
You're a nice kid, you're smart, and you did well in class. You're a geek, but so am I, so that's cool. But, seriously, you're in college now, so you at least need to update your geek-preferences to the sorts of things adults like. The constant Power Rangers references make me question whether you are emotionally prepared for the adult world.

The Queen of Snowflakes:
You have added a good deal of amusement to my semester without even being present for most of it. My favorite was when you showed up after weeks of missing class - the look of panic on your face when you saw me passing out tests was priceless. Your excuse for your extended absence was interesting, too - arthritis? Really? You could be telling the truth, I guess, not that it matters. I've got arthritis in my back, and I make it to class. Choke down some pain pills and get on with life. I was disappointed with the "I'm working on the extra credit assignment" line, though. Been done too many times. With all your other innovations, I would have thought you could have come up with something fresher. I would love to meet your other profs - we could compile your greatest hits album.