Friday, September 7, 2007
one week done, twelve more to go!
Well, that wasn't too bad. I've made it through the first week of classes, and I'm feeling fairly optimistic about the term. Besides doing a 4-hour weekly stint in the Writing Centre, I have three first-year sections, two of "Writing for University"(115) and one of Writing about Literature, fiction (112). One of the university-writing sections is full at 28 while the other, with an 8:30 start, has about 23 students -- I'm crossing my fingers it will stay that way, but there's still time for students to add a course. The lit course has only 20 students registered which is great for marking while still being a good enough size for lively discussions. Much lower numbers and I find it hard to sustain class energy by the end of term. All three classes so far seem to have a good mix of students, not more than 5 or 6 ESL students in any one class, with a helpful sprinkling of mature students who already promise to contribute productively. There's been great participation so far and a generally positive attitude. My 112 class yesterday afternoon, especially, had a really engaging conversation about Kate Chopin's "The Story of an Hour" beginning with everyone offering a personal response. Several students proved to be very attentive to structural and stylistic detail, trying to figure out how the story's mood/tonal switches were accomplished and commenting on the kinds of metaphor and other imagery. We had a debate between the majority of students who saw Louise as potentially strong and a few who were impatient with her weakness; thus we also got to consider what kind of research would be needed to support either of those positions in a term paper. I got up early this morning (5:30!) thinking about one student's response in particular and ended up writing an e-mail to the class summarizing what I hoped we learned from the class and inviting further thought about the story. (This ability to send out a class e-mail is an option available in the last year through our records/registration services and it's a handy tool -- I don't have to keep a list or collect e-mail addresses myself, but simply click on a link).
I also got back to my Pilates classes after the August break. Margaret's easing us back into it, but I know the ab-work is going to kill me next week! Still, with the added running I've been doing, I'm so grateful to be getting decent stretches again. As well, since we're such a small group (as the Reformer classes have to be), I've got to know my classmates and look forward to visiting with them as we groan together, so it was good to see them all after a month away.
One of my concerns with the fall schedule is whether I can balance fitness with work. Because I'd like to have a shot at running the Fall Classic 1/2 marathon at UBC in November, I really need to be running at least 3 times a week. I should be able to do it if I go for a run either Monday/Wednesday afternoon OR Tuesday/Thursday morning. But since I have Pilates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mondays and Wednesdays are the days I'm going to try to walk to school -- it's a 35-minute very hilly walk each way, so by the time I get home, it's going to be difficult to talk myself into going right back out to run. So Tuesday and Thursday mornings seemed the obvious choice. Until Thursday morning arrived and I couldn't help thinking that I'd worked hard all week adjusting to the changed schedule and maybe I could put my weekday run off 'til next week. Had my cup of tea, checked my e-mail, read some blogs and then guess what I did? Yes! Good for me! I suited up, got my runners on, and headed out just after 8, was home and showered by 9 with lots of time to get breakfast and catch the 10 ferry. Managed another run this morning and I should be able to fit a longer one in over the weekend, so I'm feeling really optimistic about getting into a good routine for the fall.
Another positive note: I finished knitting my Icarus shawl. Here it is, in all its pre-blocked glory.The knitters among you will know this, of course, but for non-knitters, the puckered edges you see above are the "before" version of knitted lace. The way this gets transformed from something that, in the elegant words of the Yarn Harlot, looks like ass into a dazzling pattern of negative and positive space traced in stitches is the process of blocking. As soon as I finish writing this post, I'm going to weave in the ends of the shawl and then soak it in a sink full of water. After I gently squeeze out as much moisture as I can, I'm going to stretch it out on a foam pad covered with towels so that I tighten out that pattern as tautly as the fabric can stand. I'll pin it down to the blocking surface and then leave it to dry, which will tighten it even further, and when I unpin it in a few days, I'll have something quite wonderful to show you, if all goes well. Here's a closer look at the unstretched lace -- check back here soon to see the transformation.