Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Random Post-Party, End-of-Semester, 'Tis the Season Thoughts

*First—I’d like to announce that my annual (earnest) dusting (of the public portions) of the house took place on Friday evening. So that is off the list, folks.

*These are the party-leftovers now waiting in TH’s department office to be claimed. Actually, the pacifier and plates are already repatriated; the two utensils must surely have owners who miss them.
*Sunday was clean-up and put the house back together day. Plus I was sick (a virus is going around and I’m not surprised that it hit me on Sunday and Monday—I knew my adrenaline would disappear when Saturday was over. Indeed—around 2:30 am on Sunday morning when I finally fell into bed, I could feel it coming on.) I think (crossing-fingers and knocking on wood) that the worst of it is over. The last thing I want is to be sick on Christmas Eve and day. Two more tyl*nol down the hatch.
*Monday, I ordered books for my new prep (the other course I’d taken care of long ago). I held out on this one until I could have a day or so to dedicate to really conceptualizing what I wanted to do with this class and it took this long to find the time. In early December our provost sent an email reminder about ordering textbooks that included “3 ways” to place our orders and I decided yesterday to take the easy way out (I usually use the pain-in-the-ass computerized system our for-profit bookstore conglomerate wants us to use) and simply emailed the info to one of our bookstore managers. She sent a lovely thank you, so—quite frankly—I don’t think I’ll ever again indulge Foll*tt by using it’s stupid, redundant time-wasting system. Then, I proceeded to complete the process of ordering desk copies of all the texts from 3 different publishers. That was THE next-to-the-last piece of school-related business that needed to be done. Now I need to come up with a new round of assessment questions for our intro cultural course (pre and post course) for next semester. I might do this today and mail them out for approval/editing/write-them-yourself responses.
*Yesterday morning (in between bouts of being waylaid by viral chills) we ran out and got Christmas presents, gift certificates, a Hanukah card (for my little niece who is now a teenager—wow—time flies), and various and sundry other items that needed to be wrapped and mailed. All of which was completed before noon. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when under the gun. Plus, I mailed yet more Christmas cards to friends and colleagues (in my and TH’s department) who sent the same our way.
*Today, I’m waiting (okay PRAYING) for an email from the Dean that will help to make my Christmas a good one, and will mean that all the hard work of the search committee (especially MY work for these past two years) hasn’t been for naught. Let it ping, let it ping, let it ping (that would be my iPhone registering the download of that much anticipated email). Please. Please. Please.
*Following a long Friday (last) that included 3 hours of associate dean search business (busy-ness), a colleague—who is also a commencement marshal and fellow search committee member on the Assoc. Dean search—laid out her idea/prediction of how this search will fall out. I am a-okay with the choice she predicts the Dean will make, but surely do hope that it is not for the reasons she anticipates. On the other hand, if she is right, it will mean that bean-counter and football fan in the office of 2010 is not a shoe-in to the Dean’s position as rumor in some quarters has it. Here’s hoping some decent female candidates are in that pool.
*This year I sort of splurged on some white Christmas tree-shaped candles at P*ttery Barn. They come in two sizes and I bought three small and two large ones and waited to light them until right before our party began. I just want to say that they were worth every pretty penny I paid for them. They are gorgeous as wax sculptures, but they also burn slowly and very artistically. They were lighted for at least 5 hours on Saturday night and clearly have another 20 hours or so of time left on them. One of my favorite people (who comes every year) also ooh’ed and ah’ed over them so I’m hoping I can find some for her.
*After Christmas is over, I might go out and buy some more of the I*K*E*uh candles that I ended up purchasing this year when I couldn’t find the ones I wanted and had driven all the way out to rural-topia to get (the sales woman looked me up and down when I asked her where I could find them and then snapped out “those are a SUMMER product”—news for her: I put out the limited number I had this year and they damn well looked “wintery” to everyone who made their way to our front door). But I digress. When I couldn’t buy more of the one version, I bought a dozen of a new variety in white and red and they were a big hit—lots of fragrance for relatively small candles (the tree candles are scentless).
*Let me just say that during big parties, it is good to have a teenager quietly holed-up in his room at the back of the house. Yesterday morning—that would be two mornings after the party—the three of us went to breakfast and were talking about various and sundry departmental issues and he piped up with “Is that the [wo/man] who [description of physical attributes]? [S/he] must have been on the phone outside my door at least 5 times talking to his/her kid(s) and then the babysitter. Oh, and someone spent an awful lot of time in MP1’s room with their kid, and did you know that ________came in and insisted on talking for 10 minutes to [his—MP2’s—girlfriend]? He just took the phone away from me and totally freaked her out for 10 minutes and then he was like, ‘come outside and smoke with me—or is that bad for your saxophone playing?’ ” We knew about the parent/child duo in MP1’s room and also about crazy M/let-me-be-the-life-of-the-party talking to MP2’s girlfriend, but as to the former, we both cracked up and said “Yes, well—this is often what happens when parents [the mature ones—who actually care more about their kids than themselves] come to loooong parties. It’s just a non-stop job—even when you leave them with babysitters.” Funny thing is, we BOTH (TH and I) knew exactly who that parent could and couldn’t have been and have always respected this particular person's balance/talent in the parenting (as well as teaching and scholarship) columns.**
*This is the time of year when students flock to the various sites to rate their profs. One site I rarely go to is the M*space page for my university and department. This morning I checked it for the first time all semester and cracked up at two very recent posts. One was a rant against a person who now has one semester left to teach before retirement and the student wrote (among other things) that this professor “should never have been hired.” Uhhh—well, you just may be 45 years late with your assessment—however correct/incorrect it may be. And about another professor “She cries ALL THE TIME. Seriously.” I wonder how students will interpret THAT one. Her colleagues know not what to make of it, I assure you.
*This (somehow) reminds me that recent retiree sent a lovely email thank you to me for organizing his party. I told him it was a committee effort—but I was happy to receive his thank you, as he does not give these out in great abundance and knows I’ve been juggling lots of crap this month.
*Despite my best efforts to stay away from campus until after New Year’s Day, I’ve got to go in and file (already!!) a grade-change form. The new system of posting grades drives me a bit crazy, because you cannot make an online correction even one day after you post grades, even though the grading period is still open. Grrrrrr. But the mistake *was* mine.

** Still, hearing this from MP2 reminded me that I am so happy that *we* don’t have to live through our late 20s to mid-30s again, because it was a different kind of exhaustion—sheer, relentless physical exhaustion. Up at night with babies/toddlers/little kids, while writing dissertations, teaching, shuttling between grad school and teaching campuses and between room parenting and sports and music and homework duties during the day. Not to mention all the energy that goes into cultivating the kind—and calling off the mean and zealous—teachers. And in the midst of all this, trying to write an article or three so we could hope to find permanent employment when were out of grad school. The ‘tween and teen years are more emotionally, than physically, exhausting—but exhausting, nonetheless (no wonder my mother was so uninterested in baby-sitting—she survived 4, four, IV[!] of us). Why, I’m just full of holiday nostalgia. This is the perfect mood in which to write those assessment questions…maybe I’ll just get that over with today.


the cheerful pessimist said...

1. Good Lord. He did NOT go into MP2's room. Please. No. And bother C? No. Please.

2. Erm, I did have to call someone, but I couldn't reach them. But I don't think I was near MP2's room. Was I?

3. Oh, so THAT's where you got those tree candles! Me want.

Auto Ethnographer said...

1. Indeed he did. That's what he gets for opening his door to strangers.
2. Nope, a 2-kid family, and full conversations reported.
3. I hope they are on sale now. Maybe I'll check online. Everything is already marked waaay down.

the cheerful pessimist said...

Tsk, tsk. That's what you get for raising well-mannered children. You guys should get on that. It's not too late to teach them how to be randomly rude and callous.