Sunday, October 30, 2011

Post midterm smackdown

Texty Tom:

Do you think I don’t notice when a young man stares intently at his crotch for 15 minutes straight with his hands under his desk? Ten years ago, I would have thought you were masturbating, but if you were masturbating you’d be done by now. You’re texting, Tom. Which is expressly forbidden in my class.

When I said, “Tom, you’re texting under your desk, aren’t you?” you looked up, startled, and put your phone away.

“That’s okay…” you said as I marked you absent. Do you think I’d care if you thought it wasn’t okay? Do you think I’m stupid? I’m going to be watching you now, Tom, positioning my desk carefully so that I can see under yours at all times.

P. S. I also have a “no masturbating in class” policy, so no doing that either.

Brown-nose Betty:

Firstly, I don’t know you from Adam. So plopping yourself down in my office and telling me how great you think I am and how much you hear I love my students doesn't really register as it would if I actually knew who the fuck you are. Even then I would be taking such praise with about five pounds of salt, as students rarely come to my office to begin with, and if they come bearing heaps of acclaim I know that they want something.

Which you do. I am teaching a course next semester that you need to graduate. No one wants to take it, but they have to. Including you. Apparently since the course has been offered the past two springs online, you assumed it would be offered online perpetually. You were wrong, and now you can’t take it in person because of work commitments. Betty, I don’t see how this is my problem. But you’re making it my problem because you want me to offer you an independent study, whereupon I saddle myself with hours and hours of unpaid work on behalf of a student I don’t even know because that student failed to plan properly. Look at my face. How likely do you think it is that I will do that? You’re lucky I’m teaching it online in the summer, and you can take it then, when I will actually make a bit of money for teaching it. Mama needs a new kitchen, Betty.

Recommendation Rita:

Why are you going to grad school, Rita? You want to become a college professor, like me? Rita, this will never happen. There are no jobs out there, Rita. Are you listening to me? No? You still want to go to grad school? Oh, dear. Okay, then.

I don’t mind recommending you even though I don’t remember you and only had you for one class. Your transcript is stellar, and you received an A, so I can say some nice things. But Rita, I don’t teach creative writing. Why are you asking me to write you a recommendation for creative writing programs? Because no one else who’s read your creative writing feels that they can recommend you? Rita—oh dear Rita—this is not a good sign. I can’t recommend your creative writing either, because I’ve never seen it. I would rather have gum surgery every day for the rest of my life than teach creative writing, because teaching students creative writing would mean I would actually have to read their creative writing. I do this occasionally when I am asked to be a judge for the student literary magazine, and each time I do I am subjected to prose and poetry so atrocious that I am tempted to claw my own eyeballs out with a grapefruit spoon. I would never subject myself to that agony on a regular basis. Therefore I doubt that my recommendation would do any good.

Give up now, Rita. Give up.

Daughter-in-law Dottie:

Our test is tomorrow, and I do not give make-ups, ever. So you’ll need to get someone else to take your sick mother-in-law to the doctor. My mother-in-law is often sick too and I don’t miss class to haul her old ass around. And my own mother is 1200 miles away, so when she gets sick no one hauls her old ass around but her. These women are both well over eighty. You’re a lot younger than I am, Dottie, and my guess is your mother-in-law is probably about my age. Tell Miz Thang to suck it up until the test is over.


  1. Beyond Rita, I would keep 99.99999 percent of students away from Law School (not enough slots), Medical School, Film School (even more of a ripoff than Law School), etc. I don't want a generation of ignorant people, it's just that there are no slots in certain fields for graduates, either in academia or the private sector.

  2. Cheer up, Stella. Maybe the one who wants to do the MA in Creative Writing thinks that's the best way to galvanize herself into becoming a novelist, and she doesn't want a job in academe at all.

    Now you only have to brace yourself to read her novels. Feeling better already, right?

    interesting article by Joanna Russ of beloved memory on who gets into creative writing programs. Mostly men and chicks whose writing interests the largely male faculty, are you surprised? Chicks who write about, you know, chick stuff are just not writing 'seriously' and get passed over.

  3. I am aware of the grim realities of the marketplace, but students say to me "But YOU went to grad school!" Um, yes. I also was in a convent for a year. So Good Life Choices might not be my forte.

    I tell all of them to get certified to teach ESOL. It's a skill but it makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and shit. Like hugging little black babies in Africa, which is what they all want to do with my discipline anyway.


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