Let Spring 2021 Semester Commence
School, and consequently my job, start again on Tuesday. I'm as excited as anyone can be about schools and jobs. I'm teaching two sections of English 1010 this time, and consequently only taking two classes.
Creative Nonfiction Writing Workshop - I have to take this because of my major. We'll see how it goes, since it's from the same professor who did the undergraduate Advanced Nonfiction Writing class that I hated. To recap, I hated it because she made us write "flash" nonfiction, very short pieces that had to make every detail count and incorporate additional layers of meaning beyond the literal events of the text itself, something I was woefully unequipped by nature to do, and during peer review I felt eaten alive by some of my idiot classmates who, for example, couldn't tell when I was joking, because God forbid I ever try to be funny unlike any of them. Nothing against the professor herself, who was a delightful human being, except for how she went out of her way to make me feel singled out and excluded at the beginning of every class when she said "Hello, my beautiful ones!" (See, this is an attempt at being funny. The joke is that she excluded me because she was only talking to the beautiful students and I'm not beautiful. Maybe it's not that funny, but do you understand it, at least? Do you understand that it's not meant to be taken literally? Do you understand that you don't need to assume I'm a moron?)
Folk Art, Traditional Art, and Material Culture - Falling in love with an artist reminded me that I love art, and I drew a lot of pictures when I was little, and in kindergarten I was always the last one to finish our daily project and go play because of my attention to detail (when we made bees, for example, I was the only one who gave mine anatomically correct insect eyes instead of white cartoon eyes), and I might have become an artist myself if my art teacher all through elementary school hadn't been a grouchy old cow. I'm also super interested in anthropology and what it explains about human behavior and religion. It just is a shame that life is too short to pursue every interest in earnest, but college is a chance to take your time and diversify and explore, as long as you don't mind going into debt for the rest of your life. This is, in fact, an undergraduate-level class, but I just have to do some extra stuff and it will count as a graduate-level class.
I still have all my lesson plans from teaching last time and I have some clue what I'm doing this time and I think it will be great and not too stressful. Knock on so much wood.
Because I'm teaching two classes, I don't have to work at the Writing Center. I don't think I ever talked about working at the Writing Center. I enjoyed most of the actual appointments, talking with students about how to strengthen their writing, but preparing for the appointments was a nuisance that I won't miss. Not to mention the stress of trying to get them. I was supposed to aim for twenty by the end of the semester, and I got so far behind that one week I desperately opened eight to nine hours a day on my appointment schedule, more than doubling my appointments and reaching the goal, and then that turned out to be a complete waste because all my normal slots were filled for the last few weeks of the semester and I ended up with way more than I needed. The scheduler was weird too. I had my default schedule, but if I wanted to open up more slots, I had to go in and "blackout" all the times that I didn't want open and then everything else would be open by default. At first I thought that was pretty stupid, but now I just think it's pretty stupid.
Usually when I looked over someone's writing prior to an appointment, I felt way out of my depth, because I was supposed to focus on the bigger picture stuff more than spelling and grammar issues that would be much easier for me to tear apart. I didn't know what to do when an ESL student specifically asked for help with his grammar. As a teacher, I'm not supposed to correct ESL students' grammar because the notion of "standard English" is bullcrap that one group of English speakers codified to make themselves superior to all other English speakers, but as a tutor, I'm supposed to help students with what they want help with. I also had to help with a business major's application to a graduate school in Scotland, and I knew very little about the stuff he wrote about but I would be surprised if anyone at USU has better business qualifications than him. It was his fourth time bringing it to the Writing Center so I guess I was lucky to be at the tail end of it. I also had to help with someone's grant proposal for a study on how to more effectively grow plants in space. She was like, "Is there anything else you think I should include?" And I was like, "How the #$%@ should I know?" Not out loud, of course.
So I had situations like that where I had no idea what to do and then it turned out fine. I had some other science stuff, even though there's supposed to be a separate Science Writing Center that I didn't sign up to do. There was this one guy, I forget what his thing was, but I was doing my introductory spiel and I asked "Have you been to the Writing Center before?" like I'm supposed to, you know, even though I always draw a blank on where to go from there if they say no, but he was like, "Yeah, but not the Science Writing Center" and I was like, "Oh, uh, you still haven't." Not out loud, of course. I'm not that assertive. And he was all apologetic about how he meant to sign up for the Science Writing Center but he must have not. So guess what? One of my colleagues found out that if you go to the website and sign up for the Science Writing Center, it just directs you to the normal Writing Center schedule. Facepalm. At least one paper was about biology, so I wasn't completely out of my depth.
Of course, most of the students I tutored were filling a requirement from their instructors. As an undergraduate I also had to do this as a requirement for some instructors, and I thought it was a hassle but they did give good feedback. I was never obnoxious to the tutors. I only had one student who was obnoxious. The thing he gave me to look over was literally one paragraph of an essay he was supposed to write, and in the sign-up he said he was just doing this because he had to, and where he was supposed to list his concerns for me to focus on, he said he wasn't worried about anything. Based on the quality of the paragraph he provided me, he should have been worried. It was garbage. So we got to the appointment, he made it really clear he didn't want to be there, and he had changed his topic so all the corrections I made to his paragraph were moot anyway. I was more than happy to let him go after two minutes.
I could have still done the Writing Center this semester for some extra money in addition to my salary, but I had to decide by like December 12, so I decided nah.
I have continued to experience joy this week as several more of Trump's domestic terrorists have been arrested. I've heard, and have no reason to doubt, that everyone who carried a cell phone to the failed coup, aka everyone there, will be tracked and arrested. And that's why worrying about tracking chips in vaccines is even stupider than it appears at face value. The only problem is that they want Trump to pardon them, and that raises the question of why presidential pardons are a thing in the first place. As a child I was taught about checks and balances. I was taught that, quote, "A president is not a king", close quote. So why does he have the power to unilaterally erase anyone's legal consequences, not because the person is innocent, but because he likes the person? In this case, because the people were doing exactly what he wanted them to do? Of course, since they failed and he doesn't care about anyone but himself, I won't be surprised if he doesn't bother. I hope security is sufficiently improved this week, and that anyone else who tries to overthrow the government so their god can become a dictator is mowed down on the spot like this last group should have been.
I've just been notified that my childhood home in northern New York, which had stood since sometime in the late nineteenth century, burned down last night. So much for buying it back when I get rich.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.