Friday, September 26, 2008

Catching Up - 1/3 of the Way through the Semester

It's funny, during the semester, it's always a matter of "catching up" rather than of ever being "caught up." Catching up on sleep, catching up on work, catching up on everything. And sometimes I'm really energized by that, and other times it feels super-overwhelming. This week it's felt like a bit of both, probably because it's been such a crazy week.

First there's the fact that I'm no longer preparing to go up for tenure but rather that the ship has sailed and I am going up for tenure, if that makes sense. It's weird, knowing that there's nothing I have to do for tenure anymore because it's all been turned in.

And then there's the fact that in my Glorious Stupendous Love of My Life Upper-Division Class that we're now in the home stretch of Notoriously Difficult Novel, and that has me feeling utterly spent. It's been a pleasure to teach this novel this semester because my students are so invested and so awesome. As a group, they have bought into the endeavor; they trust me to guide them through the endeavor. And that should be (and often is) energizing. But it's also, well, totally exhausting. Not because anything is going wrong, though, but just because it takes a certain force of energy to push us through this book. So as much as I'm energized, all of that energy is also sucked out of me by this book and this class, if that makes sense. In other words, being energized is necessary for the energy that I'm expending - if I weren't energized, there wouldn't be enough energy to propel us forward. I don't know if I'm making any sense anyplace except for in my own head with this train of thought, but there it is. But so I find myself looking forward to being done with the first half of the class, to being done with this novel, because once we're done with it, we move on to another novelist that doesn't produce this particular set of responses/feelings in me. I need a freaking break from the intensity of this experience. At the same time, I suppose the intensity of this experience is exactly why I'm committed to teaching NDN, even if I only do it every fourth year.

This was also a busy week in the department, what with meetings and such that were must-attend events, and well, yes. So I'm finally, today, working on the project of "catching up" knowing full well that I won't actually be "caught up" for real until the semester is over.

But so I've been very up and down this week, almost manic (not clinically or anything, but you know) at some moments and completely wiped at others. Now I'm feeling more even, but I'm trying to use that evenness to accomplish a bunch of things, because in truth when I've got the excess of energy or the deficiency of energy I can't really take care of mundane things like grading or whatever.

Anyway, so that's where I've been, and that's why blogging here has been light-ish (or at least lame-ish) for me.


Sisyphus said...

If I remember correctly, the book gets progressively harder and weirder as it goes on, so it makes sense that it would take more energy and just general life effort.

all in all, though, it sounds like things are pretty good!

Dr. Crazy said...

It does, and it doesn't. I think the problem is that someplace around episode 13 students think they "get it" and then they hit episode 14 and their whole world is fucked up. We spent a lot of time yesterday talking about the crisis that this book causes for most of us in terms of wondering why we read literature, why we like it, and what the fuck it all means. A good conversation to have, but sheesh. That's some big-ass shit to deal with.

It will be positively lovely to move on to Author #2 in the course, in which we can read an entire novel about one freaking dinner party or one freaking play in somebody's backyard and feel like that's just fine and like we don't need to do more than that. Or at least it will be lovely for me: I do feel like I'm producing some Xeans in spite of myself :)