February 17, 2014 by Dr. Crazy
I cannot help myself from listening to Katy Perry’s “Dark Horse” every time I hear it on the radio, and since they play it on every station at approximately 22 minute intervals this is a lot, and I mainly can’t stop myself from listening because it makes no sense. I am especially perplexed by the chorus. The whole “play with magic” thing sounds just slightly too close to “play with matches,” which would make more sense in terms of what the song actually (appears) to be about. And then the boy should know what he’s “falling for,” which doesn’t sound like somebody who is playing with anything but rather like somebody who is accidentally doing something. And then she is “coming at you like a dark horse” which also makes no sense, because the whole point of somebody being a dark horse is that they aren’t “coming at you” but rather they are mysterious and take you by surprise, although she is directly saying, “watch out, motherfucker.” And then, finally, “are you ready for a perfect storm” seems to have nothing to do with dark horses or the dude who is playing with magic. WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? And yet the song is so catchy! I also can be counted on to turn the song off the minute it gets to the rap interlude, which is awful, and incorporates both “Jeffrey Dahmer” and the rapper saying “she can be my Sleeping Beauty/ I’m gonna put her in a coma,” which, WTF?
I am utterly and totally exhausted. It was a crazy weekend, which involved lots of wine on Friday night that then turned into unexpected drama in which one of my friends (we were having the wine and eating junk food and watching chick flicks) decided to snatch my phone from me and to freak out on The Dude – with whom, incidentally, things have been fine and friendly and I’ve been dating other people and so has he, so this really was quite surprising to us both; a long conversation with The Dude on Saturday which was necessitated in part by Friday’s drama but also just we had a lot of topics we wanted to cover, none of which had to do with “us” (such as we are) in any direct way, and then hanging out with The Dude and The Dude’s friends yesterday, which was fun and drama-free. No, we’re not back together. No, we are not even in talks about being back together. We are trying to be friends, and we’re trying to be in the moment and not to put any pressure on the situation. It’s kind of like Fight Club: the first rule of our whatever-it-is is that you don’t talk about it. It is not totally like Fight Club, though, in that there is no beating the shit out of each other (not physically, obvi, but not emotionally either).
The Blacksmith…. well, some of his more irritating qualities are emerging – mainly that he is a person who complains – a LOT – about all of his PROBLEMS. I am fairly certain that he is just one of Those People. Oh, and we did finally get together, which was fun and fine, but not like the most fun I ever had in my life. Eh, we shall see.
Things proceed apace with my Major Service Project, also known as leading our department toward a program-level assessment plan, and at least so far not only are things going smoothly but also it’s kind of enjoyable, actually, to facilitate conversations about Student Learning Outcomes and to see us making consistent progress toward aligning those with the program goals that the department unanimously passed this past fall. I really like doing this sort of work, actually, because it moves us away from just bitching and toward actual meaningful conversations about teaching and what we want students to learn.
I wish I could talk to you about scholarship, but frankly, between the weather and job candidates and teaching and all of the other things…. well, I have high hopes for March.
I’m also exceptionally excited because a former student of mine – one whom I hadn’t necessarily thought had found my courses all that important to her – has asked me to direct her honors thesis. She is brilliant and super-cool, so this is a very nice surprise.
I’m also directing a critical theory independent study for a grad student this semester, and it is going so, so well. She is a very hard worker, and I’m excited to be doing these readings and having bi-weekly conversations with her.
Oh, and I’m teaching a new course this semester all about the history of the novel as a genre, and I am finding it ridiculously stimulating and interesting to teach. One reason for that is that it is a very small, seminar-style class. With great students. And also I’m loving the novels that I’m teaching, and the ways that I’ve integrated theory and criticism into the course. This is the reason to develop new courses – the excitement that one feels in teaching new, cool shit.
I got my annual activity report done in time, which involved having to review my course evaluations by students from the past year. I hate looking at course evaluations. The casual sexism is the main thing that bugs me (this year I am “immature” and “vulgar”, but also: wtf with grad students in English who complain about the amount of reading that they are assigned? I mean, why are they getting an M.A. in English if they don’t expect to read? And wtf about students who enroll in a course, and who get the syllabus which clearly explains what the course will involve, and wherein the instructor on the very first day is very explicit about what the course will entail, both in terms of assignments and in terms of the content of the readings, and they choose to remain in the course rather than to switch into another course that might suit their interests or needs better that would also fulfill a requirement, and then 15 weeks in they fill out an evaluation in which they indicate they were sold a false bill of goods? The silver lining this year is that my evaluations totally confirmed what I knew about my terrible schedule over the past couple of years: I am a shittier teacher when I teach a night course on Monday that doesn’t get out until 9pm and when I have to be back on campus to teach just 12 hours later. This, at least, will give me evidence that I should never have that fucked up schedule again. But all in all? Course evaluations give little to no meaningful feedback about teaching. It kills me that I am at a supposedly “teaching-centered” institution where that is the only evaluation of my teaching that exists.
Today all of my teaching involved explaining The Sonnet, and talking about a lover separated from the beloved, and “Let me not to the marriage of true minds/Admit impediments” and “Say over again, and yet once over again,/ that thou dost love me.” On the one hand, teaching score that I basically had to give the same background lecture in two courses. On the other, sonnets are a motherfucker when you’re trying not to be detached from love feelings. I mean, seriously.
My hair has officially grown out to the point (from a pixie) that I can now put it in a sad ponytail that I would never wear outside of my house. This is excessively, if stupidly, satisfying.