Sunday, March 22, 2015

Thoughts on Spring Break. From Dr. Amelia.

Dearest flakies,

It will be such a delight to see your sunburned faces back in their seats on Monday. I had a look at the Snapchat stories about break posted by media sites I follow. Wow - it looks like you had a time that should be quite memorable, although I think few of you will remember it.

Please do not ask me how my break went. What do proffies do over break?

  • Well, I excised grime from my house that has been building up since I had the first set of your work to grade so many months ago. It was baller.
  • I, um, caught up on grading. It was a banging' good time.
  • I, hmmm, let's see, oh yeah, wrote a conference paper. Grindin' away - that was me.
  • I binge watched House of Cards. Been putting that one off until I had time. At the end, I was all, like, WHAAAAA?!?!?!
  • I had lunch with my shell of a friend who didn't get tenure, so lost his job at the end of last year. He's not doing well. Thanks for asking.
  • I had an attentive, full-length conversation with each of my children. One of them twice. That ought to hold them until May, right? #winning at this parenting thing
  • I planned our classes for the next two weeks. You know, you're RIGHT! We really do spend time just figuring out how to make your lives miserable. You need to keep that on the DL, though.
  • I froze some casseroles to feed those children when we have important meetings at the end of the day. Important, meaning the relevant adminiflake feels important when the seats are occupied while s/he reads handouts to us. It's a real fun sponge.

Sadly, I had no margaritas at all and my shirts, while worn, stayed completely dry. And I'll remember every minute.

Best, Dr. A.


  1. I always make the mistake of thinking of this as a chance to relax, when I really should be steeling myself for the long, unbroken weeks ahead. Spring semester is such a marathon...

  2. > Important, meaning the relevant adminiflake feels important when the seats
    > are occupied while s/he reads handouts to us. It's a real fun sponge.

    Isn't this the truth (statement, not question). Made even more exciting due to the fact that my dean mumbles incomprehesnively. I tend to bring something else to do, so it isn't a complete waste of time.

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  4. Dr. Amelia, I think you and I may be occupying the same physical space. That is the only way I can explain such a large experiential overlap. Well, except I didn't do that Snapchat thing. It's like the trial lawyer thing: don't go there if you might be horrified by what you discover. I don't know how much HoC you bingewatched, but for me it was about 18 episodes split over two evenings.

    When students ask if I had a good break, I'm quite straightforward: I didn't have a break. The only thing that decreased was interruptions by students, which was more than balanced by more meetings, more grading, more of almost everything than while classes are in session. But then, because I'm not a complete asshole, I tell them that it was maybe a bit too quiet while they were gone, and I'm glad they're back and ready to get back to work.

  5. Let's get to the important stuff. House of Cards: Worth the time?

    I was terribly disappointed with the universally-praised The Wire.

    1. It's worth the time if you're into that kind of stuff. Non-committal enough for you?

      I like the cinematography, the character development, and lots of the plot. I like it probably for the same reasons I liked "Six Feet Under" (an HBO series) and "Downton Abbey" (which I shouldn't have to tell you about) and who the hell knows what else (surely there have been many but I seriously can't remember right now; it's malbec, this time) . . . oh yeah, "Twin Peaks".

      David Fincher directed a couple early episodes and remains credited as an executive producer. I am less familiar with the other creative staff, other than Jodie Foster who directed an episode, and Kevin Spacey who is an exec. producer.

      In this series, I think power is almost a character unto itself. It is what binds the two main characters together and allows them to forgive each others' indiscretions. It binds the other character to them. It's the thing that characters fight over.

      On the one hand, these people are mostly sympathetic. On the other, OMFG, they are assholes. I find myself thinking, if this is what really happens in our government, we're Fucked.

      You might find yourself wanting to keep watching, the way you might want to keep watching a slow motion car wreck. A beautifully written, beautifully filmed, slow motion, car wreck. Maybe it's Stockholm Syndrome that keeps me interested. Maybe it's because, so far, I've liked every character played by Molly Parker.

      I know many people who like it; I also know some who don't. I also know people who like sushi and others who don't. These are sets that only partly overlap. Go ahead and watch a bit, and decide for yourself. Anybody who maligns your taste over why you like it or not can go fuck themselves with no further explanation from you.

      Disclaimer: I haven't started season 3 yet. If it's jumping the shark, I haven't gotten to that yet.

    2. I just checked out David Fincher's CV. I'd heard the name associated with good things, but I can honestly say I didn't know he'd had so much to do with music videos.

    3. I also binge watched season three this past week. I was also left going "WHAAAA!" No word on season four, but I will not be happy if that is the end.

      I think it is worth watching and really it makes me wonder about our government....

    4. The UK version (and, indeed, the original novels) are worth seeking out, imo.

    5. Whoa. Please forgive my rant above, which took up several column inches. I don't know which hole in my frontal lobe it leaked through, but suffice to say I'd just watched the episode where Dumbledore died, and I should have given myself a bit more time to collect myself.

      I have only today been made aware that once again, the US has appropriated an idea from the UK. I am pleased to know of this potential fertile ground for further watching and reading.

    6. The UK version is the source of the quotation: "You may think that, but I couldn't possibly comment." And for that reason, I haven't checked out the US version. Does the Spacey character say that?

    7. That line always reminds me of Sir Humphrey Appleby from "Yes, Minister".
      I'm sure it was shown in the States / Canada at some point, but it's always worth a few minutes of any Anglophile's time.

  6. I went to a conference, which substituted for the grime-excisement (so the grime is still there, which is, yes, a problem). And I don't have kids. (Or, thank goodness, a friend who didn't get tenure. That really sucks, more so than usual in the present climate.) Otherwise, this sounds very familiar. Particularly the grading and planning and lack of wild-and-crazy antics (unless you count having a couple of pretty decent meals out courtesy of per diem reimbursements).

  7. Let's see...hanging out at my wife's farm, taking care of chickens and playing with the new puppy. My son is off having his own Urlaub somewhere nice, between semesters.

    And: wrote some notes with ideas for my grad student, read a couple of papers, moved incrementally on my research, started preparing for a job interview, graded exams, graded homework, answered grad student email with questions.

    The problem with Spring Break is that when things get started again students are already in the summer vacation mood: five weeks and it's all over! Just try doing anything serious. And yet it's far from over. With one class, returning the exams should give them (and me) the right jolt back into reality.

  8. "I had an attentive, full-length conversation with each of my children. One of them twice. That ought to hold them until May, right? #winning at this parenting thing"

    Worth repeating if not retweeting.