December 10, 2008
Near a sunny window
The other day, I decided to stop feeling miserable about all the portfolios I needed to grade. I like teaching. I like my students. I enjoy reading their ideas. Surely, this process didn't need to be so painful.
So I built a fire, made myself a cup of hot tea, and settled onto the comfy couch. Boy in Black already occupied the other end of the couch. In fact, he had completely covered the coffee table with textbooks that had enticing titles like Electromagnetics and Introduction to Real Analysis and Thermal Physics and Analytical Mechanics. He has five final exams this week, and he was busy studying. "Studying" in this case meant gathering all his books together and taking a nap near them. When I moved his stuff to make room for my stack of portfolios, he stirred long enough to say, "Hey! What are you doing? That's my table of knowledge!"
I had a peaceful afternoon grading portfolios. I drank hot tea. I ate cookies I'd brought home from a campus bake sale. I looked out the window to see how sparkly the snow looked. When the fire got low, I put on more logs. I heated myself up some vegetable soup. I had a lazy conversation with Boy in Black. I graded a few portfolios.
I tried to enjoy the distractions rather than get annoyed by them. Quick brought over the sheet music to a rag called "Graceful Ghost," and With-a-Why played the first page of it over and over again. The neighbor kids came over late afternoon, and I spent an hour playing with the wooden blocks and train tracks. When it grew dark, I walked the neighbor kids home and made pasta. By then, Shaggy Hair was playing the piano, mostly just improvising. Boy in Black had woken up long enough to cover a piece of paper with formulas. I graded a few more portfolios. I ate the tofutti that my husband had gone out in a snowstorm to get for me.
It was an enjoyable day. I felt peaceful and content. Zenlike, almost. There was only one problem. I GOT HARDLY ANY WORK DONE. Out of the stack of portfolios balanced next to Boy in Black's textbooks, I had graded only a handful. At the rate I was going, I would be still grading portfolios well into the new year.
So the next day, I went back to my old way of doing things. I locked myself in my home office. I talked to no one, except to snap at anyone who dared come near me. I sat on an uncomfortable desk chair and felt miserable. I didn't build a fire. I ignored the teenagers when they came home from school. Between portfolios, I did nothing but stare miserably at the stack. But at least it got the job done.
In my next life, I want to be a cat.
Posted by jo(e)