Monday, October 1, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays

A week ago today was one of those mornings. I'm pretty sure that Jim Davis:

 and Karen Carpenter:

were thinking of Mondays like last week's when brainstorming and coming up with ideas for their work.

It actually started off great, interestingly enough. I'd woken up at 6:00 am, as per usual, and realizing that because I was just conferencing with students all day and I didn't need to prepare a lesson, I could sleep in a bit more. Unfortunately I slept in a bit more than "a bit more," eventually waking up at 7:42 am. That doesn't seem too bad except that my first student conference was scheduled for 8. I jumped out of bed and ran into the bathroom to shower. I showered quick as you like, jumped out of the shower, grabbed my towel and took off for my bedroom.

As I was running past the laundry room, I heard a distinctive snap and I stopped running. Considering the mouse problems we'd been dealing with, I knew what had happened. I peeked into the laundry room and there was the mouse we'd seen prancing about the basement like he owned the place. Except he wasn't prancing; he was writhing on the ground, not quite dead but with a clearly broken neck. (I would include a picture here, but seems a bit macabre.) Unfortunately, considering I was already late, I didn't have time to take care of the problem. I left his twitching body and continued the sprint to my room.

I got to my room, dried and dressed in a flash, and bent down to reach into my closet for my shoes. As I did, I saw a largish black spot on my wall. Not having put my glasses on quite yet, I couldn't see it very clearly. I made a conscious effort to focus my eyes, and in doing so saw that the black spot, mere inches from my outstretched hand, was in fact one of the larger black widow spiders I've ever seen. Now I'm not typically one to be scared of spiders, but ever since I was little, black widows have given me the willies. This mostly stems from the time when, as an 8 year old kid, I went down to the basement of our old house to get some dog food for Keesh, and as I stuck my hand into the dog food bag, a black widow came crawling out onto my hand. I'm sure I shrieked like...well like an 8 year old boy, and ever since that time black widows and I have not been on the friendliest of terms.

So not only did I have to deal with the scene of a twitching mouse corpse replaying over in my mind, but now I was facing a childhood bugbear as well. I killed the spider, leaving a large smear of spider guts on my closet wall, and with a racing heart I hurried off to my student conferences.

Arriving to campus later than I'd hoped, I had to park in the law school parking lot and make the 1/2 mile dash (in jeans) to to carrels. I got to my office sweating mildly and just 5 minutes late to meet with my first student ...who hadn't and never did show. I was a little frustrated that I'd run like mad across campus for no reason, but I was also relieved that I could catch my breath before the next student came in. As I was waiting for the next conference, I checked my email. Sitting there was an email from one of my professors. It was the email I'd been waiting for/dreading; he was returning the paper that I just turned in to him last week.

This is the same professor who I describe here. He is one of the more important men in the department, he intimidates me, and I really, really want him to approve of me as a student and a scholar. Unfortunately, the outcome today wasn't equal to the one from the post I just linked to. Rather than saying I'd done fine work, he gave me a few pointed suggestions and didn't give me a grade but rather asked that I revise. I'm very grateful for his suggestions - they helped me to finally see where I was going wrong in my thinking for that paper - but all the same it was hard to see that this professor, whose good favor I consciously seek and whose approval desperately want, wasn't keen on my work.

So to summarize: I got up late, I watched a mouse writhe and twitch as he died, I had to kill a crazy huge spider whose guts splattered all over my closet wall and who had nearly given me a heart attack, my first appointment of the day didn't show up, my professor didn't like my work, and on top of it all, it had been raining all morning.

As you can see, I was in a rotten mood; that is, I was in a rotten mood until my students started coming in to talk through their opinion editorials. My attitude almost immediately shifted.

It was incredible. As I helped my students talk through the ideas they were writing about and find better, more persuasive and more sophisticated ways of expounding their arguments, and as I saw the excitement in their eyes as they talked about these ideas and topics that (most of them) were genuinely interested in and even passionate about, I got happier and happier. With each student that came in to talk to me the memory of the earlier garbage that had made me somewhat grouchy dissipated more and more until I could barely remember it at all.

At the end of the day I had conferenced with 30+ students for 15 minutes each, and I was exhausted. Exhausted but pleased and content. In thinking back to how awful the morning had been, I was grateful that 1) I've chosen the field that I've chosen because teaching writing and rhetoric is so fulfilling and soul-satisfying, and 2) I have the opportunity to actually participate in my field before graduating and officially joining it by teaching general ed writing classes.

While it started out pretty crappy, it totally redeemed itself in the end. And that makes it all worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Did I ever tell you about the time I watched a convulsing hamster take its last breath, or that I inadvertently stepped on a scary black spider (but not black widow) last week with my bare foot? I hear you.