Sunday, February 23, 2014

On being a student again, part 1: What the hell was I thinking?

I have a problem.

Apparently, when I get a manageable schedule (such as this semester's) with a reasonable and achievable set of goals (such as, again, this semester), I feel compelled to fill up any unused time with more work. Here's how I imagine the internal conversation went, sometime back in January:


COMMON SENSE BRAIN: Hey! Look at our schedule this semester! We've only got three regular courses and three grad student supervisions! And all the regular courses are the ones we've taught before! And we've only committed to one article! We may actually have a manageable semester on our hands here!

SELF-SABOTAGING BRAIN: I dunno... doesn't that seem a little... off?

CSB: Well, sure: it's not our usual way of doing things. But remember how the usual way was leaving us exhausted and overcommited? I think this is real progress. Let's focus on that.

SSB: I just don't feel right about this. It feels weird.

CSB: Tell you what: why don't we slightly revamp the readings for our upper-division seminar. Remember how that syllabus has about half a dozen articles that neither we nor the students find useful? We could look up new ones, and assign them, and then we'd be reading something new, too.

SSB: Good idea! I'll go do that!

[one week later]

SSB: Hey. I just figured something out.

CSB: [distractedly, looking up from watching latest episode of Justified and once again bemoaning the fate of Deadwood] What?

SSB: That new reading thing? That's only going to keep us occupied one hour of one day out of the week, for about four or five weeks. we've still got loads of spare time.

CSB: [gesturing] Hence this fine scripted entertainment. Pull up a chair. I think we have one last diet coke in the fridge.

SSB: You're missing the point. This is time we could be filling up with Doing All the Things. [pulls up weekly calendar] See this unclaimed block here Monday nights?

CSB: [reluctantly, hitting "pause" on the video] At the end of our 9-3:30 teaching day? That one?

SSB: Yeah, that's the one. Now listen: it just so happens that La Professora -- you remember her, right? Lots of fun; keeps trying to set us up with men we're too busy to hang out with?

CSB: I like her.

SSB: Good. Because she's teaching a class Monday nights on... wait for it... Don Quixote.

CSB: We've always wanted to read that!

SSB: [excitedly] I know, right!?

CSB: But wait a minute: That's a 1200-page novel.

SSB: But it's a novel. And we want to read it. And this will give us structure and accountability.

CSB: But... it'll mean that we're on campus Mondays from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

SSB: We can get more grading done!

CSB: I think we should give this more...

SSB: I signed us up. Here are the books. [sets down two volumes] We'll get to be talking about ideas! Hooray!

CSB: [glancing through them] These are in Spanish! And not even modern Spanish! And the syllabus says we'll be reading 100 pages a week!

SSB: Plus the critical articles... did I mention those? And the seminar is conducted in Spanish, too, so the whole thing will be great practice, dontcha think? This is gonna be awesome! [exit]

CSB: ::sigh::


jo(e) said...

I love this. It's like you're inside my brain.

heu mihi said...

Well, in *English*, Don Quixote is a blast. Have fun!

Dr. Koshary said...

Snorting with laughter over here. SSB is evil, but CSB, not quite as much on the ball as she should be. Godspeed to you both.

"These are in SPANISH!"


Notorious Ph.D. said...

SSB is evil, but CSB, not quite as much on the ball as she should be.

And that, my dear Doctor, is about the tidiest summation of what's wrong with me that I've ever read. ;-)

Susan said...

You just have to give CSB more exercise. Though I could totally imagine deciding I want to take some course or other....A lenten resolution, perhaps: I will practice common sense for one hour a day....

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Actually, Susan, I'm really enjoying the class, and SSB is right about CSB needing some structure. The question is juggling the extra 10 hours a week. And the fact is that my procrastination will expand to take up all the time I give it, so why not give it less?

Notorious Ph.D. said...

But truly, SSB is overly ambitious sometimes, often forgetting to take into account CSB's talent for sloth.

metheist said...

God I've missed you. Never go away again :)

Janice said...

Wow. You are a brave, brave woman. I can't handle my life with just three classes. I bow down to you!

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Janice: Brave or foolhardy. We report; you decide.

Metheist: Thanks, but you'll have to take that up with the voices in my head.

Belle said...

Perhaps CSB should have proffered wine vs diet coke to SSB. And chocolate.

Comradde PhysioProffe said...


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

In Spanish!? hahahaha

I love DQ, but I've never read it in Spanish.

This is just the sort of thing that I do, though. I'm never allowed to relax. I always have to take one more big bite to chew on all semester long.

Good luck and have fun.