Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Why I do what I do: a parable

I have had a strange and foggy day. A day during which I did things like forgetting nearly every combination I'd learned at the dojang. And rushing out the door to go to campus and leaving half the lights in the apartment on. And writing up a lesson plan, propping it up in front of me, and still managing to teach elements of the class out of order.

I'm just terrifically distracted and unable to focus. I can't really explain why, though I certainly have plenty to think about (unfinished stacks of grading, funding to allocate for my student government gig, desperate attempts to push the prospectus forward, meetings with committee members, job talks for new departmental hires and of friends who are on the market, cousin Wonder Woman's recent re-entry to the hospital and upcoming surgery, and the funeral of the childhood friend I mentioned a few posts ago, for example). It seems there are just some days when important portions of my brain go on strike and the rest of me has to make do as well as it can.

These sorts of days, even when they don't result in anything especially bad, frustrate the hell out of me.


Today, I saw someone on campus I'd thought I'd never see again. This someone was, in particular, a kid I'd taught during my first year with the Nameless Summer Program, a kid who was not only vastly underprepared for college, but who also kept getting sucked back into the gang life he'd been involved with in high school. I spent hours talking to him outside of class, trying to help him catch up. He ended up hanging on by his fingernails to pass the course, and I kept in touch with him, off and on, for about a term.

When I stopped hearing from him, I asked after him at the retention program where he was enrolled, but he'd just vanished. "It happens," my Nameless Summer Program supervisor said. "Some of them just don't make it." I'd gotten into the habit of thinking of him as "the one who got away" and vaguely hoping that things were going well for him.

Well, today, I saw him walking toward me while I was on my way to photocopy things for my class. He looked at me uncertainly, as students will when they're not sure you'd remember them. "Hi!" I said. He smiled in that shy, lopsided way I remembered. "It's really good to see you," I added. "Yeah, it's really good to see you, too," he said. And we both meant it.

That certainly brightened things up a bit.