“I Am Worried About My Grade”

Today I finished my semester.  Grading finals is always a manic marathon accompanied by an earworm devised by my frantic brain.

Grading, grading, grading,
gotta do my grading,
get those finals graded, rawhide!  YA!

Have you ever noticed that manic activities are frequently backgrounded by some lyrically-varied version of “Rawhide”?

Maybe that’s just me…

Anyway, one of my colleagues sent this cartoon to me, and it cracked me up.  I’ll refrain from saying “story of my life” because, frankly, most of my students are awesome kids I really enjoy teaching.  But situations like this do come up on occasion.  They are admittedly rare at the school where I teach, but I’m told I have a reputation for being a frightening teacher, so maybe I’m just lucky and don’t have to deal with it so much.  (This sort of thing used to happen pretty often when I taught at a local college, back in the day.)

Check it out.  Enjoy the end of the school year, all those of you affected by it.  And have a good Memorial Day weekend!

Silliest Thing Contest Results

Congratulations go out to SJ of Book Snobbery fame, who has won The Silliest Thing You’ve Ever Heard Contest!  Look for her post this summer, details TBA.

Thank you to everyone who participated by suggesting a Silly Heard Thing or voting or both.  And extra thanks to those who spread the word about the contest.  I truly appreciate that.

Until next time…

(Until next time, I’ll be grading finals…)

Academic Calendar Conditioning (and a Reminder)

So I’ve been on the schedule of a typical academic calendar for thirty-five years now, nonstop.  My husband assures me that this consistency is the reason for the reinforcement of my periodic stress.  In other words, I’m conditioned to be overworked and therefore stressed out beyond reason from about the end of April through Memorial Day.

I cannot argue with his logic.  Especially not right now, when I’m in the middle of the busiest two weeks of the school year.  I would argue, but frankly, I don’t have time.  There’s a stack of papers nine inches tall waiting to be graded, and I haven’t even given my final exam yet.

There are other times during the year when I am similarly busy and stressed out.  However, between Thanksgiving and December finals I’m too happy about the holiday season to worry about it much.  Then, I’m blissfully able to remind myself that being behind at school is always a finite problem:  the semester always ends, and by hook or by crook, report cards go out, and then I’m done.  But right now, the summer break, when I can devote myself more fully to my writing, is so close that all I can think of is how burnt out I feel every time I sit down to work.  The glorious weather and the wall of windows in my classroom that look out onto a lovely courtyard do not help.  (My friend Amber, who used to teach at UC Santa Barbara, could see the Pacific Ocean from her office window.  That would be worse, I think, but only for my work ethic.)

I used to have insomnia the beginning of August every year, from the time I began teaching until the time my daughter was born.  (Then I didn’t have the insomnia because I was just so damn tired all the time I couldn’t possibly have trouble falling asleep.  Not at any time, not in any place.)  A lot of my colleagues experience this also, the inability to sleep well (or, in some cases, at all), for about two weeks before the school year begins.  I suppose we should all count ourselves lucky that we care so much about teaching that we worry whether we will do it well enough.  I will say that my colleagues continually inspire me with their energy, talent, and devotion to their students’ success.  As teaching careers go, I’m at what Bull Durham would call “the show.”  And I’m grateful for that.

But this means that for a while a few times a year, the other stuff I do suffers a bit.  For example, my blog.  Let’s just call this post a long-winded apology for not a lot of substantive sharing lately.  It’s not that interesting and important things haven’t been happening.  They have.  I’ve even had a few episodes of mildly worthwhile introspection about them.  But since Easter, it’s been a maelstrom around here.  Yes, work has been busy.  Yes, my daughter turned seven.  Yes, my writing has been doing interesting stuff.  But also, people have died.

Some of all that I may blog about this summer; I don’t know.  I am fairly certain, however, that I will write much more substantial things for you, dear readers, more often than I have the last several weeks.  I appreciate that you’ve stuck with me thus far.

I’ll be done with this school year by the end of May.  I’ll still have school work to do over the summer, of course — the idea that teachers don’t have to work during the break is a damaging myth worthy of Depeche Mode’s “Blasphemous Rumours” — but my time will be more my own and less frenetic.  Or at least that’s the plan.

Until then, go on and vote in my poll from last week.  You know, the one about The Silliest Thing You’ve Ever Heard.  Tell everyone you know to vote also.  Do it before tomorrow, when voting will close.  I can’t wait to find out who the winner is, especially since at the moment there is a three-way tie for first place.

And as for all the rest, thanks for hanging in there with me.  All the best.

Voting for the Silliest Thing Contest

So not too long ago I launched another contest, this one rather spontaneous and impromptu based on something asinine SJ over at Snobbery had alerted me to that day.  (Thanks, SJ!)  Lots of people entered with truly inane contributions, some of them more than one.  Yay!

So now it’s time for you to vote on the following entries to my Silliest Thing You’ve Ever Heard Contest, and the winner of the most votes will be offered a guest blog spot on Sappho’s Torque this summer!  (Details to be negotiated with the winner at a later time.)  If you want to read the original posts from participants in this contest, just click on the link above, in this paragraph, and read the comments section of the original post.  (You can find working links to some of the entries there as well, in case the ones in the poll itself don’t work for you.)

You may vote every day if you like.  Be sure to tell others about this incredibly unscientific poll as well.  I look forward to finding out who wins!  The poll closes in one week.

May the best crazy-talk win!

Silliest Thing Contest Update

Hey there.  You have until this coming Sunday night to post the silliest thing you’ve ever heard in the comments section of the original post about that.  Then I will collate all the responses into a new post, and you can all vote on what you think is the best.  The winner will be offered a spot as a guest blogger here at Sappho’s Torque this summer (date to be mutually agreed upon).

Good luck!

The Silliest Thing You’ve Ever Heard Of

So I happened upon this absolutely INANE piece of rubbish today.  It posits that — if I understand correctly — if you believe in global warming, you are most likely a serial killer.  Something like that.

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe “it takes all kinds” when something this BSC comes out.  In its defense, though, this “article” makes a good object lesson on manipulative writing and logical fallacy.

It made me wonder, though:  What’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever heard?

Post your response in the comments section, and then we can all share in the insanity.  The person who posts the funniest Most Asinine Thing will get…something.  Not sure yet what.  But something, no doubt.


Mistress Mary, Quite Contrary…

Holy canoli, my garden is growing.

I have found the answer to whether my passion flower vine is one which will produce fruit.

Hang on a second…is that what I think it is?

It is apparently producing fruit right now!  I went out there this weekend to check on things — I hadn’t in a while; April has been busier than usual this year — and I actually squealed with delight!  Check that out!  And there are LOTS of them, in various sizes, all over the vine!

SQUEE! Yes, it IS!!

Then I went over to check out the new strawberry plants.  You know, the ones we planted just a few days ago and that already had baby strawberries in their first blush of color hiding under their leaves.  Apparently they weren’t hiding well enough, because the berries are gone.  Stolen.  I’m blaming the birds and squirrels.  Probably the same ones that ransacked my first strawberry patch when I was a preschooler.  My own preschooler was ticked off.  Grumble, grumble…

But then I was mollified by the blackberry bush, which has replaced many of its lovely white blossoms WITH BLACKBERRIES!  Woo-hoo!  My Saturday morning just kept getting better.

Aren’t they cute??

Now if I could just grow and harvest those before the wildlife finds them, I’ll be a happy little gardener.  But I know how things go, and it’s going to be a game of chicken.

Oh, that we may call these delicate creatures ours…

Fortunately, that stupid fig tree which was supposed to be sugar figs but which is actually a variety of fruit I can’t stand, and which has (against all odds and my own spiteful neglect) thrived for years, producing three harvest seasons annually, is close to the other fruit plants and is much larger, so maybe the critters will gorge themselves on tingly green figs and leave all the good stuff for the humans wot planted it.

The bougainvillea I repotted from the little hanging baskets seems to be doing well.

Nice. Well, nice enough for now. It gets better.

The roses are coming up…well, you know.

This rosebush got real tall real fast.
Once more, with feeling.

And that exotic pumpkin vine (or so we assume it is, since it just sort of sprouted spontaneously a few months after our exotic pumpkin display went the way of the ghost) continues to assert its dominance in the space under the Chinese tallow trees.

This is just a fraction of its size. It has wrapped around both the trees and the urns between them and is overshadowing that ivy groundcover like no one’s business. Not that I’m complaining! I much prefer pumpkins to ivy. And this squash vine has big, lovely, yellow flowers.

I was so inspired when we dashed out to the garden store Saturday afternoon, I actually bought a pot of fuschias on a whim, just because they looked cool.

I actually had no idea what these were but thought they looked interesting. They apparently attract hummingbirds, always a good thing.

I got them home, and good heavens, they like SHADE!  How could I be so lucky?  Maybe this spring and summer the garden will thrive, thrive, thrive.

Did I mention we have blueberries too? Anyone know when they’re supposed to ripen?

Hope springs eternal.  Especially when you keep it watered and weeded and fertilized properly.  Ah there, Salvador!

(For a little backstory on the love-hate relationship I have with my garden, please click here.  And then here.)