Thursday, March 22, 2007

On the Eve of 72 (Perhaps 48?) Hours of Pain

So. This weekend, beginning tomorrow because I've worked it so that I don't need to go into the office, will be the final push on completing the book manuscript. I've made my list, I've checked it twice - now all there is for it is to do the work. There isn't really that much. I anticipate:
  • 6-ish hours of supplementary research (which may or may not get integrated, depending on the usefulness)
  • 5 hours on the introduction
  • 3 hours on another chapter
  • 2 hours on notes
  • 4 hours on final edits
  • 2 hours on making sure the bibliography is right.
This equals 22 hours. What that means is that in theory, if I make the big push tomorrow and on Saturday, that I could ostensibly be free to do something unrelated to the manuscript on Sunday. I have an offer on the table of something to do. That offer includes riding around in a '78 t-top Trans Am and then getting dinner bought for me. If that's not incentive to get my shit done, I'm not sure what is. That said, I resisted locking in plans, because really, the better thing would be to put off this imminent date until the middle of next week. But after the offer of the drive in the Trans Am, well, my resolve is weakening. I mean, it will just be so bitchin'!

It's weird, the date thing being on the horizon. I've not been on a date in ages. And the fact of the matter is that I hate dating. I get all anxious, I talk too much about myself (I know, you're shocked), and I'm always worried that I'm not being entertaining enough (feeling that I have to sing for the supper that's being bought for me), which I fear might make me obnoxious. The fact of the matter is, I'm much more comfortable with the style of male-female interaction popular in colleges across America, where you kind of know somebody, you make out or sleep together, and then you're instantly a couple. The "dates" then happen after you're a couple. The whole, "I'm going to be a gentleman and show you a good time" thing makes me feel weird. It makes me try on outfits and practice applying makeup. I know, it's what I "deserve," but I also think it puts a lot of pressure on things (i.e., me). Also, there's the calculation of the whole enterprise. I'd much rather be swept off my feet in a whirlwhind of romance and intrigue (although, of course, that doesn't often lead me anywhere good) than to calculatedly plan for somebody to take me out. I think it may be the planning that's the problem.

Also, "dating" is weird because it's not necessarily connected to Grand Liking of the person who asks one out. It's more like they're trying to get you to like them by taking you out, and you're trying to get to like them and to get them to like you by agreeing to be taken out, which is a different thing altogether. I mean, you've got to like the person in a superficial way, but that isn't necessarily connected to Grand Liking. So while I'm excited at the prospect of being taken out, I'm not tremendously excited by the person who will do the taking out. I mean, I like him, he makes me laugh, but... well, I'm more excited by the date than I am by him if that makes any sense. I like the attention I'm getting, and I like the idea that somebody wants to take me places, but I wonder whether I'd like that no matter who was involved in it.

And then there is this issue of the Grand Liking. What does that mean anyway? It's not necessarily romantic (though there is a frisson of attraction - physical, mental, emotional, or whatever - included in it), and it doesn't necessarily come from any sort of a practical place. Sometimes, I just Like in a way that is Grand. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, well, I hate to replace it with a practical and sure thing, even though it's what I always choose to do. It doesn't make sense to wait around for Grand Liking to translate into something other than Grand Liking - one has to honor it for what it is. I really believe that. But so then why am I always disappointed when my Grand Likes just don't translate? Why isn't Grand Liking enough, and also why isn't dating in non-Grand-Liking contexts enough?

Maybe I'm just boy-crazy. That's what my mom says. And she blames it on my rekindled friendship with my friend A. Apparently, my mom thinks that when A. and I get together, boy-craziness follows. This may not be entirely wrong. We do egg one another on.

The fact of the matter is that this is all part of Project Not Putting Life On Hold, and so I've got to go through with it in some fashion whatever the case. And I suspect it will be fun. So what's my damage? (To get all '80s in my phrasing)

I don't know. What I do know is that I got Chinese food tonight and my fortune was the following: "Progress always involves risk." Aint that the truth. But what does it mean? Is the greater risk going on a non-grand date or is the greater risk in refusing the non-grand thing in favor of the ideal? Is the ideal even possible?

In other news, I facilitated what turned out to be an awesome discussion in my upper-level class today. I am more proud of it than anything I've been proud of in my teaching in a really long time. The class started out very slowly. I had to give them all of this theoretical background on the front end, and people were dozing (it was rainy, they all have tests and proposals for research papers due, and they are tired), and I had no high hopes for where the discussion might go. And then, in the last 25 minutes or so - Boom! An explosion of discussion! Multiple hands raised at a time, comments flying, me having to cut the discussion off with hands still raised because we'd gone over time. Now, I facilitate a good discussion on a regular basis, but this was... electric. Electric discussions just don't happen every day, at least not at my university. Today, well, that 25 minutes or so was what I thought college teaching would be. This was overshadowed earlier by the subsequent failure of the students in my class that followed to have done even the bare minimum of reading, but looking back on my teaching day, well, the Grand Success of the one class shouldn't be cancelled out by the Disaster of the other. I mean, they were all saying such interesting things. Such smart things! There was laughter - there was double entendre - there was me leaving them with the final question of whether it is at all possible to get out of binary oppositions - there was just everything that should happen in a great class, at any university.

This reminds me of something that I said at my campus visit. Somebody asked me what I'd miss about my job. Without stopping to think, I said, "my students. Without a doubt. The students at my university are unbelievable." And yes, these are also the students who take too many classes in a semester while working full time, and they don't always do the reading, and they don't necessarily make their education a priority at all - let alone a top priority. They see a college education as time one does in order to get a degree that will get them a better job. Period. For the most part. But when you can inspire them - whether by something that you pick for them to read or by introducing them to something that they've never heard of before or by an activity or by some cosmic conjunction of elements - there is nothing like that. And while it's great to inspire any students, to inspire students who, for the most part, care so little, is so fucking rewarding that I can't describe it. Today my students were inspired. And they inspired me. It may not happen often, but when it does happen, it is everything.

So. Book. Date. Teaching. Project Not Putting Life on Hold. The consideration of Grand Likes. MLA Panel Formation (which I incidentally worked on today, and I think I'm closer to a Grand Decision where it's concerned, which may not be popular but which I think is good, and I also decided I'm doing a paper and my idea for it is, I think, really interesting and not only pertinent to the panel but pertinent to the as yet imaginary Second Book). These are the things going on with me. And Kanye's "Golddigger" is playing, and ultimately life is good. I love me some Kanye West.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

mmm i love me some kanye west, too.

one time a few years ago, my bro in law declared himself to be "against the institution of liking." I sort of like that, I sort of have no idea what it means, and I'm never going to let him forget he said it.