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.