For three strange days, I had no obligations My mind was a blur, I did not know what to do And I think I lost myself when I lost my motivation ...
- School of Fish, Three Strange Days
Finals week passed in a blur of sleepless nights and badly written papers. My Mom came to visit from Idaho; I pressed her into service as a babysitter while I took the final exam for my drama class. I was nervous about the exam. I hadn't had time to prepare as well as I would have liked. There was at least one play on the syllabus that I never read. Plus I felt that my term paper was a tad subpar (read: total rubbish) so I figured I needed to do really well on the test if I wanted to get a good grade in the class. As it turned out, I got a 95 on the paper - but of course I didn't find that out until I'd already sweated through the exam.
Now it's time to spend a few days just breathing. I only have one class for Spring term, so I'm hoping to be able to get my prospectus filed in June ... but until next Wednesday, when classes start up again ... no commitments, no obligations. What is it that I do when I'm not in class, anyway?
Oh, and the assignment to write and produce a stage scene? It didn't actually kill me. I am persuaded more than ever that I should not do any kind of creative writing, but I fudged a bit on this assignment. My script turned out to be more like creative non-fiction. I took bits and pieces of actual conversations I had with Glen over the course of the semester, tidied them up, and cobbled them together until the script was 5 minutes long. Link had his stage debut, as himself, interrupting our conversation to tell us that he needed to go to the bathroom. He was fabulous. Some of the other scenes were really, really good. I was amazed at what people had done with five minutes of stage time.
Today was my day to give a presentation about my Final project to my translation class. This in itself was not a big deal, because the project didn't have to be finished; the point was more to share our process with the class and get suggestions about things that were vexing us. However, I've had a lot of stress over the past few days because my term paper for Drama was due today, and as of yesterday morning I still hadn't gotten past the outline stage. So I came into my translation presentation at 2:00 in the afternoon, running on four hours' sleep, about a gallon of Mountain Dew, and no food all day. I was also a little concerned because Annoying Boy has apparently studied Old English at some point, and I knew there was at least a possibility that he would want to argue with me about something in my presentation. He did not disappoint. I started by giving some background information about Old English, because it is a dead language that most of the class hasn't studied. I got through all of two and a half points on my list before he objected. Oddly enough, the thing he wanted to quibble about was my assertion that “the majority of the vocabulary of Present-Day English comes from Latin through French.” I can only assume that his argument was a semantic one, because this is a fairly standard, if reductive, assessment of the origin of English vocabulary. As soon as I said it, though, he started shaking his head and waving his hand at me. I asked him to bear with me, because I was going to qualify this by pointing out that the majority of the most commonly-used words in PDE come from Old English, but he kept trying to interrupt.
I suppose an appropriate response at that point would have been, “My source is Professor X, who teaches History of the English Language. If you disagree, I'd be happy to put you in touch with him.” Unfortunately, he picked the wrong day to annoy me. My actual response was, “Would you like to be excused? Because I don't appreciate hecklers.” The thing is, if he disagreed with something I was saying, he could have asked me to clarify, or done any number of things to make his objection more courteous than his blunt “That's not right.” Is is too much to ask for courteous discussion in an academic setting?
The good news is, I have a second reader for my thesis committee. Blackwood suggested Dr. Descartes (not his real name), who has specialties in 18th century lit and the Enlightenment, among many other things. So I emailed him today to ask if he'd be interested in being on my committee, and he wrote back to say Yes, he could do that, but he won't be able to start reading chapters until after April, but we should definitely get together with Blackwood and work out a “plan of action” in the meantime. Crikey.
The bad news is, I don't have any chapters. Considering that I haven't even filed my prospectus yet, it seems unlikely that I will have any chapters by the end of April. So I had to write back to him and explain that, um, actually, I'm really not that far along with the project, they told me I should get my committee together before I file, but if he thinks it's worth his time, I'd love to talk to him about my ideas ... the truth is, Descartes kind of scares me. Just a little. Blackwood assures me that he (Descartes) thinks very highly of me as a scholar, but still. The breadth and depth of his knowledge are intimidating, and when I talk to him I'm always afraid that I'm going to inadvertently say something stupid. I've had a class from him before, and he always treated me respectfully and professionally. But I've also heard him speak quite scathingly of people he considers stupid, and I would very much dislike to have that directed at me. Also, every time I see him, I just want to apologize for the term paper I wrote for him, which was kind of bad.
I registered for next Fall's classes today. I was pretty excited before-hand because, once again, I get to register before the unwashed masses of undergrads. This makes me feel special. Actually signing up for classes, however, turned out to be a process replete with unpleasant surprises. For example, the British Modern class that I need is going to meet at 9:30 in the morning. I'm excited to take a class from Dr. Modernist, but not that excited ... especially because, if I want to be on campus at 9:30 a.m., I have to get up at 6:30 a.m. This is not an exaggeration. In order for me to get myself, my toddler, and my six-year-old out the door on time, I need to get out of bed three hours before the time I'm supposed to be in class.
I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "She's complaining about getting up at 6:30? What a wimp!" So, for the record, let me just say that I am not a morning person. I am capable of staying up until two or three in the morning to get work done, but it would be virtually impossible for me to do the same work at, say, five or six in the morning, no matter what time I went to bed. I never feel really happy about being awake until around 10:00 a.m., and before 9:00 I'm barely functional.
So anyway, I signed up for the class, and resigned myself to the fact that two days out of every week next Fall are going to be Bad Days. If I have to get up at six a.m., it will ruin my day every time; there's just no way around it. The next class I had to sign up for was “Composition Pedagogy,” because I want to teach English Composition next year, and the Pedagogy class is required for that. There are two sections offered, one at 1:30 in the afternoon on the same day as the Modernism class, and one at 9:00 a.m. on the off days. If I take the 1:30 section, I will be on campus from 9:30 until 3:00 – not good from a child-care perspective. If I take the 9:00 section ... I'll have to be in class at nine a.m. I've signed up for the morning section; there's really nothing else I can do. But this will very possibly be the worst semester of my life. I'm going to diiiiiiiiiiiie.
I have a thesis chair! I feel so official, so ... legitimized. I hadn't thought that I was far enough along in my research to be thinking about my committee yet, but I went to a prospectus workshop yesterday afternoon where the advisors said otherwise. So I went home and emailed Dr. Blackwood a synposis of my idea to see if he was interested. And lo, this morning in my inbox I find his response. He'd like to work with me, he's excited about my project. Yay! I have no idea who else should be on the committee, but presumably he will have suggestions.