Sex Ed in Higher Ed

College instructor teaching human sexuality rants about the dumbing down of America, the lost art of manners, grammar and (the perfect combination of both) the thank you note. Also includes random rants about life, pet peeves, and sometimes raves about favorite things.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

How I Spent My Blog Hiatus

It's the "after" picture of the kitchen in my new house! Don't you love it!?!? In the past month and a half I have pondered such important questions like: Am I up-to-date on my tetanus shot? How many days does it take for concrete dust to leave your lungs? And of course, What is the purpose of wearing a face mask when you still have black mucus running out of your nose for days after a weekend spent in the "destruction" phase?

Oh, my blog friends - how I missed you! Honestly, I did not miss blogging - much to my amazement. But I did miss your funny comments and sage advice. I definitely do not miss the voice in my head constantly yammering, "Could this be a blog entry? Or this? Or that?"

So what brought me back to the blogosphere, you ask? It is a stack of 40 ungraded papers staring at me, mocking me. Telling me I have neither the mental capacity nor the patience to slog through them. Blogging - I have realized - is an EXCELLENT way to procrastinate. I'm doing something. I'm not just sitting on the couch, slack-jawed while I wonder which one of the Real Housewives of Orange County has her own original God-given breasts. And finally, if I can't bemoan the current state of higher education in the blogosphere, then where, I ask you where am I to do my bemoaning!?

Because I know you're just itching for a fix, I'll give you a few student anecdotes.

This first one isn't even an anecdote. It's just a sentence that made me smile. And then weep for the future: "I got tired of feeling like my boyfriend's constellation prize." Dar-ling. Darling. Put down the iPod. Pick up a book. For cripes sake!!!! I think I had those words confused when I was in 5th grade. Oy.

Here's one that would have sent me into a blog tizzy just a few short months ago. And now? Look at me - almost calm, cool and collected, although still knowing in my heart that this will come back to bite me in the ass via course evaluations. Yet. It felt DAMN good. Let the anecdote regaling commence:

Leggy, thin blonde student wanders up to me before class begins. She is in no way a "dumb" blonde - she gives more of that rich, privileged, country-club and private school educated blonde vibe. No Mystic Tan for this gal. You can tell she's spent her whole life slathered in sunscreen. (And good for her!) And it was probably slathered on by the nanny or a bevy of servants.

Leggy Thin Blonde: Um, yeah. That midterm thing - when is that? The 14th or something? That's not going to work for me, so I need to reschedule. When can I take it?

Me: (For the first time in my teaching career, I think I am containing any sense of shock I may feel. Because perhaps I am not shocked. This is both good and bad) I'm assuming you cannot take it because of one of the four acceptable reasons listed in the university rules and regulations. You will also find these same reasons listed on the first page of the syllabus.
LTB: Blank stare. Eyebrow raise.
Me: Remember, death in the immediate family, severe illness with physician documentation, blah, blah, blah.
LTB: (Shakes beautiful blonde hair with perfect highlights) No, it's not any of those things. I just can't make it.
Me: (At this point - believe it or not - I'm trying to be flexible. Give me something here. Your dog lost a limb in a freak sled-dogging accident. Come on. Something.) Well . . . what, um, is it?
LTB: (Sighs exasperatedly.) Look, it's not like I'm going to the beach or something. I'm a skier.
Me: I - um, what does this have to do with the exam? I'm confused.
LTB: Look, I don't blame you for this stupid situation. (At this point I am DYING to say something sarcastic like, "Phew! What a relief, because I was worried!") I know it's not your fault.
Me: Completely bewildered stare. Stammering. All I can think is: Things are always my fault. Except in this case, she's telling me they're not, but I don't know what the hell isn't my fault. But the fact that whatever it is is not my fault is good news, indeed. I think.
LTB: I blame the stupid university for having spring break so late. I HAVE to leave early because otherwise the snow will be all melted. (Rolls eyes.) It's not like I'm leaving for break early to go lounge around on the beach or something.
Aside: This last statement fascinated me. Being neither a skier nor a sun worshipper, I had no idea there was some sort of hierarchy of spring breakers. Clearly, one is more worthwhile than the other. But it's not like she said she was going down to New Orleans to help continue to rebuild the city for dozens of homeless families. Then I could have maybe understood the eye roll.
Me: As much as I would like to help you out, I cannot. I'm guessing many students would like to leave (Four days early! Class is on Tuesday afternoon!) for spring break. If I offer you this opportunity, I would have to offer it to the other 74 students in the class. Since I don't live on or near campus --
LTB: (Interrupting) I don't live on campus either. I'm commuting all the way from Snootyville!
This was another statement that intrigued me. Was she trying to empathize with me? One-up me? Show that somehow we were peers? I didn't get it and was dying to say, "Hey! WASP Queen: We weren't talking about you!"
Me: Then you understand that me traveling to campus a possible 75 different times to accommodate all students would be both unrealistic for me and unfair to your fellow students.
LTB: (Looking at me with pity in her eyes) I'm not not going. (She said this to me kindly and with patience, like I might have just a wee bit of a developmental disability.)
Me: I understand that. You're certainly entitled to that choice.
LTB: So, like, how will this affect my grade if I don't take the exam?
Me: I don't know exactly how you're doing in this class right now. I guess it depends.
LTB: (Exasperatedly) Like, just pretend I have all the points so far.
Me: I guess, I mean, well . . . I'd have to look at the syllabus and get a calculator. I'm not really good at doing math in public.
LTB: I guess I'll have to figure it out. But I'm not changing my travel plans.
Me: Okay.
LTB: (Speaking kindly, as if I'm her servant and she just wrongly accused me of stealing her jewelry) That's all right. I understand you have to be fair. To the others.

Look at me! Minimal stammering! I've come a long way, baby!!

In other school-related news, we have two comments from last semester's evaluations:

Really neurotic


Amazingly inspirational. The best teacher I have ever had.

Those two comments have really given me pause. One person's "amazingly inspirational" is another person's "really neurotic." I type with some seriousness: I can no longer think that course evaluations have any validity. Well, they may for my department chair, and perhaps for the Human Resources team that handles employees with severe mental health issues, but they can't for me. If I'm going to spend two weeks being depressed and - accurately enough - really neurotic about the first comment, then I have to spend two weeks throwing myself a ticker tape parade over the second comment. Or, I could just decide that they average out to "average" or "zero" and go on with my day. Because really: Am I ever going to be NOT neurotic? No. And believe me, I've tried. Me and half of the licensed clinical counselors in the Western hemisphere have tried and failed.

My conclusion? Although I've been told this by everyone who has ever met me, I have finally realized: Not everyone is going to like me. And so what? And now I feel sorry for Sally Field and also ashamed that it took me 36 and a half years to grasp this concept.

Perhaps I should have started small for my first foray back into our lovely world. But I wanted my first post-hiatus post to have been worth waiting for. *&$(&#*@ people-pleasing tendencies! Okay, maybe I'll catch on in another 36 and a half years! I'll keep you posted.

Labels: ,


Blogger happychyck said...

So lovely to have you back! Your entry is just what I needed today because I have spent the day slogging through papers--without any mind-numbing Orange County moms to distract me. Hope to see you around more!

March 18, 2007 4:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i am SO excited that you're back!! and wow, congrats for keeping your cool with leggy blonde... *clearly* she is superior to those lazy beach bums.

March 18, 2007 8:52 PM  
Blogger Mrs. T said...

Welcome back! Soooo glad to hear your voice again (er, you know what I mean.)
Leggy Blonde sounds like a pain in the arse, but heaven sent none the less. We need people like her to make fun of and also to make ourselves look good.

March 18, 2007 9:41 PM  
Blogger mex (aka Syb) said...

YAYAYAYAYAAYAY... yr baccckkkk

and what a great piece, as always.. Ta!


March 19, 2007 7:49 AM  
Blogger Tizzie said...

YAY, you're back. Definately needed reminding why I dropped out of uni to become a shop girl, thank you!

March 19, 2007 8:07 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

Yay, I am so glad you are back. I checked back at least once a week to see if you had come out of hiding.

March 19, 2007 8:43 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Yay (I couldn't come up with anything original) you're back.

I can't wait for LTB part II.

You know there will be a "Part II". Sad, isn't it.

March 19, 2007 3:32 PM  
Blogger Saradevil said...

The neurotic ones are always the best.

March 19, 2007 11:43 PM  
Blogger Mamacita said...

YOU'RE BACK! Thank goodness.

March 20, 2007 10:01 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Welcome back!

March 20, 2007 10:54 PM  
Blogger saintseester said...

Yay! You are back. Loved the leggy blonde story. And don't read your evaluations. I get completely diametric comments all the time : (best teacher in the department and worst teacher in the department - evaluations from the same class).

March 21, 2007 8:01 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

So glad you're back!

March 22, 2007 3:32 AM  
Blogger Carla said...

You are so much better at NOT being sarcastic to the blond face than I would have been, but then it would have been lost on her anyway. Welcome Back!

March 24, 2007 10:08 AM  
Blogger Fresh Hell, Texas said...

You're back! Yeah!

March 25, 2007 1:15 AM  
Blogger planetphile said...

Glad to see you back!!

March 27, 2007 6:58 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home