Not at ALL What You Thought

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I have to do this now, while it's still fresh.

I'm ready to talk about my Tuesday now. You may not be ready to hear about it, and that's fine.

Those of y'all still here? This happened.

I woke up to rain on the morning it was my turn to take the dogs out. Used to be, Juice and Goobs took turns with the dogs, but since Juice left for college, I'm taking up the slack. I don't mind feeding them, combing them, training them or playing with them, but I hate taking them outside. When we lived at the other house, we used to just let them outside. But that house had a fence. This one does not, so the dogs must be taken, or one or both of them will make a break for it, and hours'll pass before it occurs to Nimue or Frody (especially that idiot, Frody), "Hey, I live somewhere around here. Better go home, where they love me. Kinda." Poor dogs. Now, there are definite advantages, actually, to taking the dogs, as opposed to loosing the dogs to the back yard: one is that the Taker gets to decide (more or less) where each dog pees and poops. Otherwise, there's pee and poop all over the yard, and I, personally, don't like that. YMMV*. But I hate taking them outside because I have to stand around and wait for the peeing and pooping, while mosquitoes feast on my person.

Such is life, though, when you choose to allow dogs to take up residence in your home.

It was pouring when I decided to stop stalling and take the dogs out. The rain wasn't really an issue, though, since I have a gigantic umbrella, and Frody, at least, doesn't mind getting wet. Actually, I think Frody is unaware of getting wet. As he is unaware of most realities. Nimue does mind getting wet, but she gets over it fairly quickly if Family is out in the rain with her. So we all went outside, did our thing,* and came back inside. I had cereal, and since Goobs is extremely finicky about cereal,* I told her to eat breakfast at school.

The day started out fairly normally, I'm tryina say.

But it was Tuesday, so that means when I got to work, I was probably going to have to walk "off-campus" to class. In the rain. I didn't mind walking to class; it takes about ten minutes and it's exercise. Even the rain wasn't an issue, right? Because of Huge Umbrella. So I walked to class, tortured my students, took up papers, gave them their new assignment, let them go, and then waited for the next class, reading essays as I waited. About five minutes before my next class, I went to my other classroom and discovered that my boss had put up a sign there: "Courses using this classroom will be meeting at the auditorium for today only." Why? As far as I could tell, the ceiling was leaking. Yes, there was a little water (and buckets) on the floor, but not so much that, IMO, one couldn't have class there.

But it was five minutes before class, and nobody but me was there. Usually, that class hangs around, as a body, in the hallway, until I show up, ask, "Why are y'all hangin around in the hallway? Get in here!" and escort folk into the room. Clearly, today, students had showed up earlier, read the sign, and gone off to the auditorium. Back on campus. But I went to the instructors' office and called our AA, left her a message to call me back at that number. She did so almost immediately and confirmed, yes, that she had heard that "the classroom was flooded," had written the note, and my boss had walked over and posted it.

"I wish I had known earlier," I said forlornly. "But please? If you see my students, would you tell them I'm on my way?"

"I'll do that right now," she said. I grabbed up my stuff and, slogging it back on campus, I realized, as I reached my parking lot, that my front-passenger-side window had fallen down into the door.

Recently, I had the driver's side window thingy, the thing that raises and lowers it, what is it? The regulator!! repaired or replaced, I forget which. Two days after that repair, the window on the other side went on the fritz. (The mechanic who had fixed the other regulator was also on the fritz, having had a serious accident in his shop shortly after fixing my window.) So when the passenger-side window would no longer go up or down, Goobs fixed in in the "up" position, and she and Juice taped it to stay there. Riding along in the car, though, we all discovered that various and sundry vibrations made the window slide back down. The girls kept sliding it back into place and taping it more securely. Tuesday's rain, however, wet the tape, and when the window wanted to go down, all the way down, the tape gave out and let it go. It was raining hard and steadily --inside my car. I made an "Auuughhhh!" noise as I passed, but I couldn't do anything about the window, even if I had been able to dig it out of the door --because I was late for class.

I found my students in near dark in the auditorium. I could barely see my roster or the textbook, although the students looked happy and dry and friendly, as usual. So I tortured them a little, took up their papers, gave them their new assignment, and let them go.

My third class was in the same building as the auditorium, thank Jesus, but I'm learning to dislike the classroom mightily. For one thing, it's a "smart" classroom, with a computer for each student. For a professor who knows how to work "smart" classrooms, it's great. In fact, it wasn't long ago that a handful of the technologically savvy used to fight over that particular classroom. They had to learn to share it. When I discovered, however, that I had to teach in it this semester, my heart dropped. But beyond asking one of the Savvy to help me figure things out, I didn't complain. Much. The problem with the classroom is students' tendency to ignore lectures in the front of the class and, instead, play online with the PC in front of their faces. If I were a student in that class, I'd do the same thing. And, of course, the one bell/whistle of the situation that I could have used --the ability to see what students were looking at on their PCs (and even shut down the one on Facebook)-- wasn't working at present.

Most of the students in that class don't play with the PCs, though. They're older students (mostly) with paychecks that are paying for school, and they don't come to class to play on PCs. But there's always one. Last week, the second week of the semester, The One, during his first time in class,* ignored the in-class assignment and began to play with his PC. Although I made a general announcement about the assignment, again, The One continued to ignore me. And then, when I left my podium to speak to him directly, he became offended that I had said anything at all to him. Clearly, he was supposed to do what he pleased*. Because I had said something specifically to him, and he didn't like it, The One began to grumble about what I did or didn't "have to do." This prompted my popular "This is Blackwellia" speech, which lets my students know, early, that when they walk into my classroom, they do what I say. And I decide what I say. "Blackwellia is not a democracy," I point out. "It's not even a benevolent dictatorship." It's a thundering good speech, but I hate to have to give it. That day, however, I felt that most of the class was behind the sentiment. One student, an older* gentleman in the back of class responded, "HIT THE DOOR!" to my rhetorical question, "And if you have a problem with that, then. . . ?" (Actually, I was angling for "Sign up for another class," but "HIT THE DOOR!" worked, too.)

Despite my brilliant speech, a week later, The One repeated this performance. Essay revisions had been assigned the week before Labor Day weekend, the long weekend, remember, and those revisions were due Tuesday. Although nearly every other student in the class had his or her paper ready (either hard copy or flashdrived), The One decided that today was the day to begin work on his essay. Walking around, collecting papers, I noticed that he had started this essay and asked him, as I had last week, "What are you doing?" Of course, like last week, I was Just Wrong for saying anything to him, so I stopped myself and merely asked him if we two could talk after class.

"Why?" he asked, exasperated.
"Can you just do that for me? Talk with me after class?"
"Okay. Okay," he said.

The rest of the hour had his grumbling undertone as background music. He still didn't have a textbook, but as I was calling on students to do exercises orally, The One swiveled over to a classmate with a textbook, saying, "I just know she's gonna call on me next, so. . . ."

I did call on him, but not next. Because I don't have it in for him.

But it's going to be hard not to have it in for him because I listened to him talk after class (as did a couple of the other students. Sneakily). See, The One didn't have a problem with me, he said, but he did not like the way I talked to him. He didn't understand why I had "called him out" on his first day. I pointed out that he had come to class a week late, with no textbook, and had deliberately ignored the class assignment, twice, even beforeI "called him out." I asked him what he thought I should do to restore order in my class. He shrugged.

"I don't think you had to talk to me like that," he reiterated. He was under the impression that my "Blackwellia" speech was "completely unnecessary." I was under the impression that we would have to agree to disagree on that. See, while the student agreed that he had been wrong to ignore the class assignment, and wrong to try to write his paper a week after it had been assigned, he really seemed to feel that I wasn't supposed to say anything to him about it in public. I was getting angrier and angrier, particularly at the sense that, whatever I said, the problem was that I was saying anything at all. He also didn't seem to understand the concept of Authority. After reminding him that I could do pretty much what I wanted in my class, he responded, "So as long as I do the work, I can do what I want?"

"When did I say that?" I asked.
"Well, that's what I understand you to be saying," he responded. I lost it at this point, and by "lost it," I mean "let the conversation drop." I could feel my face burning,* and I felt I was near to saying something I shouldn't. Somewhere up in there, The One said, "Okay. I don't want to argue with you anymore." I reminded him that the class rule, if he ever wanted me to read his first essay, was that he had to bring the essay to me during office hours.
"They run between 11 am and 1 pm," I said.
"I'll be there at 1 then," he replied.
"Um. My office hours END at 1."
"Oh. Well, I'll be there sometime before."

One of my sneaky students, also older, waited until the young man had left and said, "Ms. Blackwell, he's not gonna do anything you tell him to do." And she burst out laughing. But I had to run, though, so when she assured me that she wouldn't give me a hard time this semester, all I could say was, "Well, if you do, I can handle it."

"I believe you!" she laughed. Time does not allow me to relate how, because of a meeting, I was late for my last class, the class thirty students full, but a sweet class, and that Goobs, catching a new bus to and from school for the first time, got home an hour late. But you get me. This was not a good day.

I'm so glad some of y'all prayed. God, He knows what would've happened if y'all hadn't.

Jesus, my brother, I thank You. Anyway.

*As you might have realized, I have issues with walking the dogs outside the house, allowing them to pee and poop all over the neighborhood. If pee or poop occurs away from home, I'm not averse to cleaning up after my dogs; however, the whole idea of taking them around for the purpose of letting them eliminate all over the neighborhood works my nerves. We do walk the Nimue and Frody, just to be walking them, but we usually try to get them to take care of their toilet needs before they leave the house.
*Me commanding, "Okay, get your poop on," and them just looking and sniffing around for the rabbits they're sure will show up shortly.
*Meaning that if it's not some kind of sugar bomb, she won't eat it.
*Yes, that's what I said.
*Especially since he didn't have his textbook (the Best Excuse EVAR for not doing an in-class assignment).
*Meaning he looked to be about my age.
*I wonder (again) if I actually turn red when I get angry or embarrassed.