Thursday, September 3, 2009

Just a quick one

I wanted to write a post with lots of pictures, since I have been knitting, but I have literally not been home enough this week to take any, and as Rick's parents arrive today to visit for the long weekend, I'm not sure when I'll have another chance to post.

It's been quite a week. Tuesday was my first day of classes, and for the first time since I was a rank and scared graduate student, I was not looking forward to meeting my students. The list of disasters and bad news I had to discuss with them felt endless. I had to cover furloughs, the state budget, the potential course-load increase, their fee increases, the fact that I wasn't taking any crashers above my class caps (for the first time, ever, I turned students away from my classes), the ways that they could contact their administrators and legislators to let them know what an impact all of this is having on their education. By the time we got to the swine flu, we were all a little bit giddy. I refused, categorically, to show them the disaster preparedness video our admin had prepared; I didn't think we were up for it. We all just about lost it when it occurred to us to wonder what will happen if the campus has to close again this year due to fires. All we need now is a flood. (I know, I know. I shouldn't laugh, but honestly, folks, sometimes you've gotta laugh to keep from crying.)

The part where I almost cried was when I spoke to each and every individual student whom I could not let into my classes. They all needed those classes. They are all working hard and trying to graduate in some reasonable period of time. And I had to look them all in the eyes and tell them that I couldn't make it happen. And all I could think was how much easier it is to make these kinds of budget decisions when you're sitting in an office somewhere, protected by layers of personnel, knowing that you will never ever have to actually look at a student who's working full-time to make her tuition and tell her that she can't have that fourth class that will make it possible for her to graduate in the spring, that she'll have to find a way to pay tuition for another semester. The despair among faculty during those first two days of class was palpable. And then I sat through a meeting yesterday in which our administrators spoke about how exciting the start of the school year is; there's a real disconnect there.

I also developed a nice case of poison oak on Tuesday. That gave me the giggles, too, because some days you just can't win for trying.

On the "good news" side of the ledger, after a very long saga involving lots of guilt on my part for causing trouble for people, I did finally replace that blue yarn in the Elektra sweater that I was stubbing my eyes on and have started with a new color that delights my eyes and my soul. I'm glad I waited, but I still feel guilty that I caused trouble (I don't like causing trouble for nice people). I also got to go to the first hour of knit night at Yarning For You last night, which was good for me (look! sane people! knitting!). And today I get to go talk about verbs and prototypes in my classes. That will be much better than talking about furloughs and tuition increases. And after tomorrow, there's a long weekend! Things are looking up.



It may not get better, but it will get different.

Hang in there. I'm pullin' for ya.

Katie said...

Ugh, you are being attacked by all kinds of crap right now, aren't you? I go back to classes on Tuesday; I'm not particularly looking forward to it. Especially now. Hang in there. Knit like your sanity depends upon it!

KnitNana said...

I'm glad that stuff is behind you and you can concentrate on the teaching...for the timebeing at least.
Have a fabulous, relaxing holiday and can't wait to see your new yarn!

Miss 376 said...

It's horrible when you can't get on with the job you love because of all the bureaucracy. Hope you have a refreshing weekend

Gwen said...

Oh, some days/weeks/months (oh god no not years) are like that. Bleah.

We have case conferences every coupla weeks. Sometimes they are just so absurdly horrible, every single case falling apart, that all we can do is laugh about it.

Disaster videos suck. They're as bad as the news, if not worse.

(I'm in a mood myself. Stupidly wrenched my back this morning. No time for this!)

Rachael said...

Hugs for you, it'll get better.

Unrelated mostly, but at my university faculty can't let students into the class, it's all about firecode limits and the registrar's office. If I had a nickel for every time a faculty told a student they could add their class and I have to explain to them why they can't actually add it (always ending up looking like the bad guy myself, drives me nuts, I wish faculty (present company excluded of course) would pay more attention to the policies!) Anyway, if I had a nickel for each one...I couldn't retire, but at least I could buy a nice leather coat!

Willow said...

Verbs, infinitives, gerunds! Those words make my heart sing. And I need my heart sing over something during these days of uncertainty and stress over budgets. Where're my knitting??

My son in law is going to be going back to school in the next year. I hope that things are sorted out by then.

Rachel said...

Ackh, let the administrators explain all those things to the students maybe then something will start changing to the better!

I still think the students should start demonstrating and fighting for their rights and the quality of their eductation.

Oooppps I am sorry, the Israeli in me jumped out yet again,,,

Have a great relaxing weekend with your extended family and don't think about work at all!

Wanderingcatstudio said...

Here's hoping things get better!

EGunn said...

Not a great way to start a class, especially when you know how much depends on the tone set in the first day! And it is so hard to say "no" sometimes. Every one of your students had better earn their stay this semester!

I'm so glad you found the right yarn for Elektra. Hopefully it will make up for some of the annoying political stuff!

twinsetellen said...

I know that most of the students, including those who you had to tell you couldn't fit into your class, could see that you cared about this stuff and about them. You gave them a little bit of something good in that connection, and even if it didn't solve the bigger problems at hand, it added positive energy. Little bits of positive energy can make all the difference in the world.

Alwen said...


But I have to say that "stubbing my eyes on" is a delightful phrase.

AlisonH said...

What Alwen and all the rest said.

Maybe they could pull some administrators into teaching extra sections, you know, no extra pay, just, it's the right thing to do and they have all this free time and...

Bea said...

OH my. I'm so so sorry for you and your students. I know this had to be very hard for you.