I am busy

Dear readers — that is, if I still have any. Hello? Is anyone there?

You’ve probably been wondering that about me. My excuse for not blogging is a good one: I have moved to a new city and started a new job that has me running around, half-forgetting my brain when I walk out the door.

So this is what a typical week looks like:

Wake up at 7.30 AM. Out of the house by 9.00 AM, if not before (preferably before). Arrive at campus 7 minutes later and find a parking space.* Teach from 9.30-10.50; Office hours, lunch, teach again from 1.00-2.20; Office hours again. Home shortly after 4.00 PM. Take a nap, eat leftovers (or something) for dinner. Bach Society Choir Rehearsal from 7.00-9.30 PM (though we sometimes get let out early). Home, then sleep.

Wake up at 8.30 AM. Housework/grading/class prep in the morning. Scrounge something together for lunch. Skype with Ros if I’m lucky. In the office typically by 3.00 PM. Teach from 4.30-5.50. Wrap up things in the office so that I’m prepared for Wednesday, then home and dinner. Evening usually consists of class prep, grading, or watching TV to let my brain decompress. Bed by 10.30 PM.

Repeat Monday, without the choir rehearsal. Depending on the week, I might drive an hour to one of the nearby towns for training at an SAT College Prep center, where I will eventually teach. If so, home by 9 PM, and bed.

Repeat Tuesday. No class prep in the evening though: Thursday night is my Friday night. PJs, something easy for dinner, and watching Doctor Who several days late.

Slow day. Which consists of meal planning, grocery shopping, job hunting, lesson planning, grading, and housework.

Wake up at 8.00 AM. Spend the morning training at one of the SAT College Prep centers, and maybe a bit in the afternoon, too. If possible, drive to McKinney and see Kelly. If not, drive home, where — you guessed it — lesson planning and grading awaits.

If my body allows me, church from 10.30-11.30. Then lunch, and then a feeble attempt to do work but usually I fall asleep instead. I might watch Doctor Who tonight instead. Review my lesson plans for Monday, and then bed by 10.30 PM.

Then repeat all over again! Oh, and add a bit of an RA flare-up (or rather more than a bit), because spoons? Who needs spoons?

With 60+ students who won’t do any work unless I grade them for it, I’ve ended up with a lot of grading. I’m also teaching two courses (Comp I and II) I’ve never taught before, which means a lot of class prep.

This week is even busier! Let’s add these to the mix:

  • Serve on a Fulbright interview committee that will interview a Fulbright applicant Tuesday morning;
  • Have all three of your classes hand in their first major assignment this week;
  • Have a faculty meeting on Friday morning;
  • Attend the Texas Medievalist Association annual conference from Friday-Saturday, during which you are also presenting a paper which you haven’t finished yet.

This is life at the moment. So, until next time…


* Now that it is finally getting cooler, I intend to start cycling to work soon — as energy allows.

Scotland Decides

Today I announced in class, “Today is a very important day.” My students first guessed that it was my birthday — which it is not — and eventually told them that Scotland was having it’s long-awaited referendum on independence. The last few minutes of my class became a miniature civics lesson as I explained the difference between an election and a referendum.

“What do you think it’s going to be?” one of my students asked.

“It doesn’t matter. I’m not in Scotland,” I answered.

Now they all think I’m Scottish.

Photo on 9-18-14 at 11.14 PM

I don’t have a say in Scotland’s future, but I do care about it. I understand, to an extent — the extent that an empathetic ex-pat historian can have — why Scotland wants to be independent. I also understand the concerns of the Better Together campaign. So here I am, staying up past my bedtime, waiting on tenterhooks as the results for each county are announced, messaging with Lola back and forth, like we did for the last two American presidential elections. I wave my Scottish flag not in support of the Yes campaign, but in support of Scotland herself, whatever she decides.

Edit, 19 Sept 2014, 15 min past midnight: Scotland has voted no, to stay in the United Kingdom. I now breathe a sigh of relief, will toast Scotland’s future with a sip of whisky, and then go to bed.

Labor Day, or, Day of Rest

A four-day weekend was a reward for surviving my first week of teaching. Classes meet only on Monday/Wednesday and Tuesday/Thursday, which means I have Fridays free. Add to that Labor Day, and I have an extra long weekend to recover and rest from a very tiring, but successful week.

As I expected, my students asked where I was from in each of their respective first classes. One group of students thought they were being especially clever. This was my favourite exchange:

Student 1: “Are you English?”
Me: “Is that where you think I’m from?”
Students 1 and 2: “Where are you from?”
Me: “Someone else has already started to guess, so I can’t give you the answer yet. You’ll have to guess too.”
Student(s) 1-4: “Are you from England? or Scotland? Australia? Ireland?”
Me: “Possibly.”
Student 1: “Do you speak another language?”
Me: “Yes.”
Student 1: “Say hello.”
Me: “Hello?”
Student 1: “Yes, say hello in the other language.”
Me: “What if I speak more than one other language?”
Student(s): … (mystified)
Me: “I think you need to be focusing on your [group exercise] now, don’t you think?”

Needless to say, I didn’t tell them, and if any of students ask again, I have a list of clues prepared for them…

By the end of the week I finally had a university username, an e-mail account, a faculty I.D. card, and access to Web Advisor (for rosters, attendance, and grading), and to Blackboard. Now I can finally start building my class materials on Blackboard and fielding student emails! But I am glad for the extra long weekend, as it’s given me a much needed break that I haven’t had since getting hired.


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One of the things that is nice about living in North Texas is that I live closer to my friends in Oklahoma. Megan came down for the weekend and we had a nice lazy time: wandering around downtown, eating pancakes, and settling in a bit more into my flat. With her help, I acquired a drill and put up curtains in my living room and bedroom. Bit by bit my flat is becoming more like home.