complicated

12 10 2008

thing about stress is it sometimes sneaks up on you and you don’t really see it looming with a bucket of ice over your head until the unexpected freezing crashing down. and after all, it’s just ice, it’s just cold; you can go get dry clothes & start again. but it takes a little longer for the gasping shock to wear off than to change a sweatshirt.

i was hanging out over at shawn’s the other afternoon, and by “hanging out” i mean i had my computer set up at his extra desk and i was grading and being completely useless company because have i mentioned the 90 freshmen? and the essays that i’m still only halfway through, which are only the first of five consecutive batches of essays, and midterm grades are due next monday, which incidentally is the day the next batch of essays comes in, and by the way i’m out of town all weekend and next weekend is shawn’s birthday and the anniversary of when he & lynette lost their would-have-been first-and-only baby, so in with the grading there’s grieving to be done and also some effort, however dwarfed, at celebrating?

and we won’t even talk about the mysterious bout of dead-in-the-water my dissertation has temporarily come down with; i hear these things clear themselves up in time, and since i don’t have time to do anything but believe that, i’m just going to carry on believing that. but from there, a pile of undone laundry and a finger scraped on the stairs and, really, any other little thing anywhere along the path of a day might just be the one-thing-too-many that starts the avalanche.

i don’t even know what set me off this time; i was grading, and then i wandered into his room to find something, and then the next thing i know he’s in the other room making coffee and i’m sitting on his bed bawling. things i know i was crying about (see how one-thing-leads-to-another around here):

  • it was about to be (is today) his & lynette’s anniversary again, and she’s dead
  • the anniversary of the baby dying ought to be something he has her here to share with him, and he doesn’t, because she’s dead
  • i miss my friend, and she’s dead
  • i’m a bad friend to all the people i love who aren’t dead, because i spend all my time grading papers
  • i’m a bad teacher because even spending all that time, i don’t get enough papers graded fast enough, so i’m lousy at the things i’m supposedly best at and a bad friend for no good reason
  • my email was broken in some way i didn’t understand (since fixed; server drama that was out of my hands at the time) so i couldn’t send graded papers back to students, respond to the people sending me editing requests that i had to turn away anyway because i was out of time, or reply to the friends i already felt bad about neglecting about important things like the birthday plans i already felt bad about not doing enough to engineer
  • my grandfather’s birthday was last week–my grandmother sent me an email about it–and it was news to me because i never even knew his birthday because he died when i was eleven, and i was busy grading papers and didn’t answer her email and so she, too, had to commemorate her losses on her own
  • my dad’s already older than his father lived to be, and i hardly ever see him
  • it gets more and more likely every year that i won’t ever have any babies, and/or that genetics will catch up to my dad before he gets to meet any kids i get around to adopting, and it’ll be all my fault that he never got to have grandchildren.  plus i don’t really want to raise kids in a world without my father in it.
  • ty and i spent all of about a month and a half “trying” to have a baby before we drifted into realizing that, married or not, we really didn’t like each other well enough to commit to a life of shared parenting, and during that month, we may or may not have painted the room we called the nursery in the house we lived in: i can’t remember.  it was only a few years ago.  i remember picking out the paint color, and i remember painting other rooms, but i honestly don’t know whether we did that one or just thought about it.
  • no wonder my marriage was a disaster; i wasn’t even paying enough attention to remember whether or not we painted a room yellow, a room i was in all the time.  (having had several more days to think about it, i’m pretty sure we didn’t, but only pretty sure.  i’d have to check, and that’s out of the question.)
  • it is heartrendingly unfair that ty and i completely wasted the opportunity to build a decent marriage, and shawn and lynette did everything right and lost it all anyway.  one of us should be dead, since we weren’t going to use the gift anyhow; they should have gotten to keep it.

and then because none of those things are or were correctable, they just suck, and the things that need doing still need doing whether i’m a sodden wreck about them or not, i blew my snotty nose, had some coffee, ordered pizza, and got back to grading.

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10 responses

12 10 2008
seekserendipity

Oh Tyra. ::big hug::
There are no words to help when you’re in the middle of feeling the rush of emotion brought on by… everything.
I wish there were answers, and I wish if there were answers they would actually make sense.
For what it’s worth, I know first hand that you sooo don’t suck at what you do. You are what I aspire to be when teaching composition. I am 100% sure your students don’t think you suck, either.
Your true friends will understand that you are juggling 90 freshmen, and I bet they are there right this second to prop you up when you need it most.
Feed your soul while away; believe that it will be okay; know that it’s okay to NOT believe that once in awhile… then feed your soul again.

12 10 2008
seekserendipity

Oh Tyra. ::big hug::
There are no words to help when you’re in the middle of feeling the rush of emotion brought on by… everything.
I wish there were answers, and I wish if there were answers they would actually make sense.
For what it’s worth, I know first hand that you sooo don’t suck at what you do. You are what I aspire to be when teaching composition. I am 100% sure your students don’t think you suck, either.
Your true friends will understand that you are juggling 90 freshmen, and I bet they are there right this second to prop you up when you need it most.
Feed your soul while away; believe that it will be okay; know that it’s okay to NOT believe that once in awhile… then feed your soul again.

12 10 2008
faerieariel

here’s a big *hug*!
Oh darnit, that’s a long list. Ya know, even the angels and faeries can’t do any better than their best, and you are doing your best. As for the family stuff, at my mother’s request, I have it on my schedule to call her every Thursday morning. I thought it would make me crazy, but the benefit to me has been not feeling guilty anymore. Maybe you can pick one thing on your list and get proactive about it. You’ll feel better.

12 10 2008
faerieariel

here’s a big *hug*!
Oh darnit, that’s a long list. Ya know, even the angels and faeries can’t do any better than their best, and you are doing your best. As for the family stuff, at my mother’s request, I have it on my schedule to call her every Thursday morning. I thought it would make me crazy, but the benefit to me has been not feeling guilty anymore. Maybe you can pick one thing on your list and get proactive about it. You’ll feel better.

12 10 2008
jessica_dwg

::hugs, cookies, pats::
I’m sorry everything is overwhelming you — I think it has something to do with fall weather, the way these things can creep up on you, and all of a sudden all you feel is loss. I have had my fair share of these days lately, and I don’t have nearly so long a list of things to grieve.

12 10 2008
jessica_dwg

::hugs, cookies, pats::
I’m sorry everything is overwhelming you — I think it has something to do with fall weather, the way these things can creep up on you, and all of a sudden all you feel is loss. I have had my fair share of these days lately, and I don’t have nearly so long a list of things to grieve.

13 10 2008
spoonboy514

Teaching
I can’t weigh in on every subject here, but I can certainly relate on the teaching front.
Every time I read one of their papers, I can’t help but feel I’ve failed them as a teacher. I honestly feel like I was a better teacher five years ago than I am now.
Why is crafting a workable thesis such a hard concept to grasp/teach? They offer a weak claim, I say, “So what?” and they look back with blank eyes. “What do you mean, ‘So what?'”
I must be asking too much and giving too little.
I really shouldn’t hate reading their papers this much.

13 10 2008
tyra

Re: Teaching
you know… I’m wary of saying this because I don’t want it to sound like an unoriginal variation on my old complaints, but I do suspect that the problem might have a lot more to do with what and where you’re teaching than with the kind of teacher you are (or at least than you can be, when you have the reigns). knowing you, i suspect that you’re giving plenty, probably already more than you have the energy to give & still stay sane & healthy.
my evidence for this claim (because I’m an expert at so what) is that the papers I’m currently grading are terrific, and most of them are doing exactly what I asked them to do, or at least getting close in ways that clearly demonstrate that they’re listening and trying, and I feel great at what I do–and way better than I ever did at ‘Cuse. it’s pretty simple to guess why, too: right now, (despite my hesitation, actually, b/c I’ve shied away from the assignment in the past, but as they often are,the curriculum was handed to me as non-negotiable) they’re writing 3-page-long reflective narratives focusing on concrete and figurative description, and we’ve been practicing that over and over in class. we’re getting to claims and evidence next (short analyses first, where they get to leave things unsupported and just dredge their brains for possible explanations), and when we get to that we’ll get to practice claims & supports over and over in class–I have them taking on small, focused writing tasks that isolate the different skills and ask for them one at a time, and it’s all very concrete and demonstrate-able, and whadda ya know they can learn stuff that way.
or at least it’s working so far. so maybe giving and asking less, or at least asking for it in smaller, bite-sized chunks?
I feel like a jerk for not having infinite hours, but when I’m with them, and when I have time to sit down with their work, I feel like a genius surrounded by genius freshmen. (this SUNY thing is awesome. you should try it if you get a chance!) but I do know exactly what you mean about the paper-hating and feeling like you’re asking too much, because what else explains how they smile and nod and say they get it and then turn in stuff that says they obviously don’t? and you feel like you should have known, somehow, that believing them was foolish, that you should have been watching every word over their shoulders to make sure they were on track all along. there are a couple I’ve lost track of here, but I felt like that with almost every student in every one of my SU classes. and I don’t know how much of that might have had to do with the student body itself and how much had to do with how oblique and tricksy the curriculum could be, but I know I felt like a really rotten teacher all the time, and here I really only feel like that when it’s late and I’m tired and blue and counting hours and worried I won’t have physically enough to get to everything.
it’s tough sometimes (as you can tell I know, as the above shows me doing a lot of falling apart about it) but try to be easy on yourself, J. you’re an excellent teacher. and also it’s really nice to hear from you.

13 10 2008
tyra

Re: Teaching
you know… I’m wary of saying this because I don’t want it to sound like an unoriginal variation on my old complaints, but I do suspect that the problem might have a lot more to do with what and where you’re teaching than with the kind of teacher you are (or at least than you can be, when you have the reigns). knowing you, i suspect that you’re giving plenty, probably already more than you have the energy to give & still stay sane & healthy.
my evidence for this claim (because I’m an expert at so what) is that the papers I’m currently grading are terrific, and most of them are doing exactly what I asked them to do, or at least getting close in ways that clearly demonstrate that they’re listening and trying, and I feel great at what I do–and way better than I ever did at ‘Cuse. it’s pretty simple to guess why, too: right now, (despite my hesitation, actually, b/c I’ve shied away from the assignment in the past, but as they often are,the curriculum was handed to me as non-negotiable) they’re writing 3-page-long reflective narratives focusing on concrete and figurative description, and we’ve been practicing that over and over in class. we’re getting to claims and evidence next (short analyses first, where they get to leave things unsupported and just dredge their brains for possible explanations), and when we get to that we’ll get to practice claims & supports over and over in class–I have them taking on small, focused writing tasks that isolate the different skills and ask for them one at a time, and it’s all very concrete and demonstrate-able, and whadda ya know they can learn stuff that way.
or at least it’s working so far. so maybe giving and asking less, or at least asking for it in smaller, bite-sized chunks?
I feel like a jerk for not having infinite hours, but when I’m with them, and when I have time to sit down with their work, I feel like a genius surrounded by genius freshmen. (this SUNY thing is awesome. you should try it if you get a chance!) but I do know exactly what you mean about the paper-hating and feeling like you’re asking too much, because what else explains how they smile and nod and say they get it and then turn in stuff that says they obviously don’t? and you feel like you should have known, somehow, that believing them was foolish, that you should have been watching every word over their shoulders to make sure they were on track all along. there are a couple I’ve lost track of here, but I felt like that with almost every student in every one of my SU classes. and I don’t know how much of that might have had to do with the student body itself and how much had to do with how oblique and tricksy the curriculum could be, but I know I felt like a really rotten teacher all the time, and here I really only feel like that when it’s late and I’m tired and blue and counting hours and worried I won’t have physically enough to get to everything.
it’s tough sometimes (as you can tell I know, as the above shows me doing a lot of falling apart about it) but try to be easy on yourself, J. you’re an excellent teacher. and also it’s really nice to hear from you.

13 10 2008
spoonboy514

Teaching
I can’t weigh in on every subject here, but I can certainly relate on the teaching front.
Every time I read one of their papers, I can’t help but feel I’ve failed them as a teacher. I honestly feel like I was a better teacher five years ago than I am now.
Why is crafting a workable thesis such a hard concept to grasp/teach? They offer a weak claim, I say, “So what?” and they look back with blank eyes. “What do you mean, ‘So what?'”
I must be asking too much and giving too little.
I really shouldn’t hate reading their papers this much.

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