Friday, October 3, 2008

Have Johnson, will travel

At the end of another teaching week, I'm exhausted again but this time with a mountain of marking to get through over the weekend -- two of my classes wrote in-class essays this week so that's 55 papers to mark (about 500 words each). As well, two other sections handed in their library/bibliography assignments (those may just have to wait). Fridays are supposed to be my catch-my-breath day, but since our institution's switching from its previous hybrid (university-college) status to a university (under our province's legislation), the attendant need to re-structure governance means trickle-down workload everywhere. So Fridays becomes meeting day for discussing departmental or faculty issues. As well, the anticipated greater emphasis on research (without added funding, so we're still teaching 4/4!) has meant colloquiums at which colleagues present their work or bring in speakers or discuss a shared interest -- last Friday, I went in for a colloquium in which some of my colleagues and I met with some of our English major students to discuss the work of a poet who will soon be doing a brief residency, including readings and lectures, here. Today, a different group of us will be listening to two colleagues speak about Julia Kristeva's theory of abjection. Before I go to that, I have to do the reading which truly would interest me if I weren't also determined to fit in a run, get papers marked, and also maybe just relax for ten minutes.

Whoops! That whining got seriously out of control there for a minute, didn't it?! Still with me?
Above is one of the last roses of summer, still blooming last weekend. Below are a few more, and they remind me that summer was lovely and will come 'round again with days-full of relaxing time. We are, as my colleagues and I avidly note, now finished Week 5 of a 13-week term (we never count the exam period or that marking -- once we're through the scheduled classes, it's all easier).
Besides pretty pictures, I take comfort in humour, and I inadvertently provided my own this last week (and provided my students some comic relief as well -- yay me!). I've had my 1st-year writing-for-university students reading Steven Johnson's book about the values of pop culture, Everything Bad is Good for You ( wrote briefly about it over at my other blog) and next week they'll be writing their in-class essay (and I'll spend next weekend marking those 55 papers, another whine . . .). Explaining to them what they could bring to that exam-like situation, I heard myself saying "You can bring your Johnson with you" -- Yes, I did! And this particular section happens to be a group of predominantly male students in an environmental building diploma program, so many of them could comply even without picking up their red-covered textbook. (Sidenote: why do men need to have so many nicknames for one small (sorry, I'm speaking relatively here) part of their anatomy -- I mean, we're tripping over words to avoid up here in front of the classroom!)
Care to share any of your own "can't believe I just said that"s to give me a much-needed laugh this rainy weekend? Come on, 'fess up . . .
This sunrise-on-the-water shot, also taken last weekend, reminds me to savour delights when I find them and to reflect on them afterwards when I need to remember how truly fortunate I am, so that I don't grouse and whine all the time! Earlier last week, La Belette wrote a piece inviting readers to share their happy places; mine's right at my front door -- which is good since rain's scouring my skylight right now and I have a pile of not-too-inspiring essays to read.

So have a good weekend, even if I'm not sure I can -- in fact, have one for me and come back to gloat and tell me about it, if you want. I'll be here, marking, or making like Wordsworth and retreating to my happy place, as in this last stanza from his well-known "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" (which I read to one of my classes last week as background for another reading -- we spoke there of happy places as well!):

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood.
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.


  1. Your pictures, your front porch and your blog are my happy place today. Love those rose pictures. And, I remember the joy of reading "Everything Bad is Good For You." I remember the time period. I read before and after Johnson's book, Klein's "Eat Fat"and "Cigarettes Are Sublime"and "Defense of Elitism" by William A. Henry. I love that kind of reading. I often regret not getting a PhD in Social Criticism just so I could read more books like that.

    Now, back to that rose.....Le sigh!!
    Thanks for the kind shout out. Have a lovely weekend!xo

  2. OH,the yellow roses always hold a special place in my heart and those photos, plus your lovely sunrise shot certainly brighten up this dreary rainy day.

    Wishing you get more than fleeting moments of retreat to your happy place.

  3. My groan-worthy 'I can't believe I said that" happened during my uni years when I hung around a lot with a group of 4 guys who were all very funny. They were all English, so at the end of the first year, I remember accompanying them to the train station as they sped off to spend the summer at home. Now, these guys could be a bit anorack-y about some things so my excuse is that I thought this was a train-spotting moment. On the platform, John says, 'oh look, there's a mail train!' I come out with 'how do you know it's a male train, not a female train?' Duh. John did not forget this little gem, as he recounted it in his speech when he gave me away when I got married. Luckily for me, most of the guests were German and Canadian, his Manchester accent is almost impenetrable and therefore my reputation as a somewhat intelligent human being remained intact.
    Have a productive weekend! :0)

  4. Ho, that's a great brick you dropped, ma! And what an intense workload.

    I couldn't top it, but once was administering a popular psychological instrument, on which one dimension is labelled Perceiving, or "P" and said, to a large group, "I guess I just showing my P-ness."

  5. LBR: Seems to me you have your own program in Social Criticism happening on a certain blog I read every day . . .
    Mardel: And this one is a particularly great yellow rose -- Graham Thomas -- has a wonderful raspberry-ish scent. Are you in a dreary rainy day as well?
    Patricia: That's a decent blooper -- and I could see it would have been irresistible as fodder for a toast to the bride.
    Duchesse: Well, you might not have topped my little slip, but this is quite impressive and probably got more than a few chuckles.

  6. wish I could stop in for tea break from all that marking! What a beautiful shot of the Graham Thomas--wonder if mine is having one more shot before the season closes? My "go to happy place" is the sunny bench outside my studio door, on a summer morning.

  7. I'd like that too, Alison, and your sunny spot would have been perfect for it last week (right now, though, we're into the rains!).

  8. I do feel for you on the work front.
    There is an intensity to teaching that can almost make your head explode. Someone once described it as 3 different jobs rolled into one. Prep, teach and mark. Each process is a full time occupation which can take years to hone into something copable.
    And don't you just hate it when all people can say is "well you do have the holidays"
    What You do have though is a particularly lovely veranda!

  9. mater, this made me cry because "I wandered lonely as a cloud" was my fathers favourite Wordsworth poem and it brought back a lovely, if wrenching memory of him reciting it slowly.
    On this dreary Parisian morning it would be nice to wander among daffodils; Perhaps there are still some out in Jardin du Luxembourg..

  10. Alison: Yes! It's the intensity during term that's hard to explain to anyone outside the biz (and add "counselling" to those 3 jobs!)
    And yes, I grit my teeth when people make the "vacation" comment, especially when I'm expected to do research in the summer and my Christmas "vacation" is spent marking and prepping for the new classes in January.
    But you're right -- I have my "verandah" as you say to chill out on, my happy place to calm me and remind me how fortunate I am. . .
    Jennifer: Got your e-mail, and sorry if blogger's giving you a hard time -- I know you're not the anonymous sort, ever!
    Your father probably recited it from memory, did he? How lovely to have his voice so firmly in your memory associated with such wonderful words -- a sort of mise en abîme of happy places within happy places (you remember your father as he remembers Wordsworth's poem as Wordsworth's speaker remembers the daffodils)


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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