Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sometimes It Helps to Break the Tablets in Half. A New Arrival in RYS-Ville, Bipolar Beth Swings for the Fences.

Whassup bitches?! Bipolar Beth from Boise here (I thought I'd add in the Bipolar bit for some increased alliteration - and it'd be more realistic to call me Bipolar Beth from Biloxi - I say "y'all" too frequently to qualify as an Idahoan). As of January, I'm in grad school at a large, urban, medical-center-based Uni! (Read: The non-biomedical biology department is screwed for funding.) And as of this week, I think I am officially a teacher in every way:

  1. I got a lab coat, so I look all official and shit. Seriously, people are parting like the Red Sea in front of me. Do I smell of formalin, or does white-coat-hypertension exist in the classroom, too? And why do the janitorial staff bow their heads to me like they're genuflecting? Did I miss a memo??

  2. Every damn professor in the department insists on waving at me every one of the 400 times they see me each day. Oh, and is there some unspoken of hazing ritual whereby professors (with CV's I'd kill baby birds for) ask me to help them prep for their labs (read: prep their labs for them), even if I have no training in their area of study? "Why, sure, Dr. Someday-I-might-need-your-recommendation, I'd be happy to dissect a lamprey and a mudpuppy! Did I tell you I finally picked a thesis - on the comparative histopathology of Alzheimer's Disease vs. other dementias - in humans - not in freaking mudpuppies. But, what the hell? It's gotta be pretty close to a human in anatomy. Oooh, what're those freaky things on its neck that look like gills???"

  3. I finally got keys to the science building and the labs that I need to access for prep, teaching, and (presumably) research. I guess the research will start when my advisor returns from her month-long vacay back to India...

  4. I just wrote my first exam. Why the hell didn't anyone tell me how friggin' long that would take? All those dilemmas: Is that one too hard? Is that one two easy? Well, shit, I told Section A about 5' and 3' ends of DNA and I got that O-Captain-My-Captain feeling when one actually used the term "BRCA gene" in a question...but Section B looked like a bunch of cows headed to slaughter (the fact that 3 students were chewing gum as if they earnestly wanted to develop Schwarzeneggar-esqe temporal muscles helped with that mental image...), so I stopped after their eyes crossed at the words "a ribosome is really a kind of RNA." So I guess I'll change the questions on page three so the Cow-Girl-Trio won't throw a hissy fit to the lecture professor about how I test on things I didn't cover...even though the dear little things are gonna flunk themselves silly no matter what.

  5. I just sat down to grade my 2nd set of papers. You aren't confused - I am a biology instructor, but I'm assigning written papers. I have to. This Intro Bio course is now a QEP class - "Quality Enhancement Plan" - some stupid SACS crap that means this course "reinforces proper methods of communicating effectively for life." You can't make this shit up. I HAVE to make these sullen, bleary-eyed, anti-science, who-needs-to-communicate-effectively-when-I-can-just-Twitter super-flakes write in complete sentences...all the time...with no partial credit if they fuck it up. So, last week I just figured the grades would go up once they started paying attention to the exceedingly simple rules. Um, well, last week's assignment was on significantly easier scientific concepts. Break out the DNA and their brains apparently atrophy instantaneously. And I quote: "DNA is made of proteins. Proteins are used to make RNA. RNA is made of amino acids, which gets turned into fat if you don't use it right away." What the hell?!? Is that really your final answer? My only saving grace is that (a) I assigned the paper *before* my lecture and (b) it was based entirely on their inderstanding of the reading. So, woot! QEP roXXors!

  6. After grading the 4th abysmally, depressingly, unflinchingly stupid response paper, I broke out a dram of my boyfriend's Laphroaig. And as of tonight, I define a "dram" as about 4 ounces of liquor, give or take a tumbler-full. I pray that the peat-moss-infused fumes with act like ether vapor and make me not give a shit about how much I want to strangle the Administration for lowering the ACT-score cut-off by yet another 4 points. At this rate, low double digits will soon be highly competitive for University scholarships. Christ, this tastes like gasoline...
And the angst/ennui dichotomy begins...