Monday, October 28, 2013

Kimmie: Oh Why.

Oh why do I have these hipsters in class? And am I using the term right? They dress like hipsters. They're so ultra-self-conscious that I almost can't stand it. I feel like I'm the awkward bystander in some kind of camera or car advertisement.

Oh why did I go to that party and tell virtual strangers what I REALLY think of teaching at the college? Couldn't I have just said, "Oh, it's SO rewarding." I guess not. They all looked at me like I was crazy. I told the truth. I told how hard it is, how disappointing it can be. How futile it all looks from the inside.

Oh why do these pants bag in one place and bind in another? Is there no woman shaped like me?

Oh why can't I sleep? Is it the stack of exams in my briefcase? I really thought about them all weekend. They're just there, waiting. I have time this week to finish them, but why didn't I at least start this weekend. Because I was afraid of what I'd learn. I was afraid I would realize my students hadn't learned enough, hadn't gotten control of enough. I ditched a whole unit of my class this year, streamlined it, tried to make the class more "manageable." And I've been beating myself up over it. But truthfully, it was a course I could no longer drag my students through.

Oh why did I eat that last bowl of oatmeal apple crisp last night? I could have saved it for today. Now there's nothing but Luna bars. And, despite all the positive gendered imagery, Luna bars suck.

Oh why did Lou Reed have to die?
Thought of you as my mountain top
Thought of you as my peak
A thought of you as everything
I've had, but couldn't keep
I've had, but couldn't keep

Linger on your pale blue eyes
RIP, sweet Lou.


  1. Oh Kimmie, my classes are full of bearded, mustached-waxed, suspendered pipe smokers as well.

    I'm thinking of canceling a morning class because I'm so far behind on my grading.

    Luna bars are vile. Why can't someone figure out how to make healthy bars that don't taste like out-of-date vitamins?

    And Lou. Dear Lou.


  2. Hip will arrive hear in about ten years. Two stacks of papers and no motivation to try again. And...

    "When you think the night has seen your mind
    That inside you're twisted and unkind
    Let me stand to show that you are blind
    Please put down your hands
    'Cause I see you "

  3. Good for you! I always feel like I'm doing people a public service when I tell them what teaching is really like. Those who have never considered it before are usually aghast that students like mine are admitted to college. I'm equally aghast...

  4. These posts always make me laugh, and nod.

    A fine mix of humor, truth, with a touch of misery.

    and yes, RIP Lou Reed....

  5. The hipster quotient is definitely rising in my neck of the woods, too, especially above the neck (glasses, the occasional mustache).

    I think college teaching (or teaching in general) is one of those things some people harbor a fantasy of doing as a second/semi-retirement career. Of course, such fantasies tend to be built out of some combination of their rosiest memories of their best class and lack of knowledge that (1) their students won't be much like they were and (2) just how badly NCLB has prepared many students for any kind of semi-independent learning. I get the occasional offer to substitute if I ever have to miss a class from professionals of various stripes. They seem to envision coming in and having a nice conversation about their professional life with my students. That might not be a bad thing, but it bears very little resemblance to anything we usually do in class.

    1. Their ideas of college teaching are a combination of Dead Poets Society and Rodney Dangerfield's Back to School.

    2. Once again, I think I was lucky to have been such a bad, lazy, lying sack of shit as an undergrad, as well as to have gone to a miserable little shit-hole of a college where I was representative, rather than the exception. It lowered my standards. I'm happy if even one kid seems even marginally engaged. Feels like a victory.

      That said, I feel ya.

      And here's one for Lou. Goddamn it.

  6. First of all, I'm right there with you, Kimmie, on everything except the pants. All of my pants are baggy. I like it!

    But Lou. He's someone I can never get across to young people. I have had success with nephews and nieces with all manner of 60s, 70s, and 80s musicians. But Lou just doesn't seem to translate them, at least not the kids in my family.

    I'm listening to Dirty Blvd. right now.

    1. One of my favs, Hiram. Listened to that one today, myself.

    2. All hope is not lost: I heard about his death from my 20-something nephew.

  7. Yes, sometimes if you tell people what teaching is REALLY like, you get that "Puppy Killer" look. It's sort of disconcerting.

  8. I gave a test today, but I start grading immediately. I know what the outcome will be--bad--but I'm always curious about "how bad, exactly"? You'd think the 1/3 of the class who never shows up at least learns how to do the HW problems (on which the test is based), but no, they think they can just show up for the test and wing it. The question for me is always, how can I artfully adjust the grades to mask the fact that the vast majority of them are failing? A translation? An expansion by a factor? By local factors? (Sorry, getting technical). Why-oh-why can't I just fail people who have done everything in their power to fail?