June 2006 Archives

Two more weeks, two more weeks...

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I'm in correcting hell.

I have completed five courses in the Master of Education program, including one specifically on assessment, and I still cannot make myself like marking. If anything, the course on assessment has made correcting even more heinous, since I am now convinced that copious feedback is essential, and timely feedback even more so...

...which means that still having my students' mid-term essays in my possession one week after the fact makes me feel like I am somehow cheating them out of something...

...which means that I am desperately ploughing through about 110 750-word essays this weekend, giving each and every one a thorough going-over with my highlighter and pen, trying to keep my handwriting legible after eight hours...

...which is why I called my friend Marianne this afternoon - she, too, is a teacher, and is teaching a course right now, and she's a mom, too, and she's studying too (although she's finishing her doctoral dissertation, so she's kinda one-upped me). I called her for a chat and commiseration. Naturally, when her husband answered the phone...

...I forgot her name.

Now, this woman is not a casual acquaintance. We have seen each other in yoga pants. But for the life of me, I could not remember her name.

To my credit, if I had called my sister instead, chances are I would have forgotten her name. It's probably a good thing I didn't call whatshername, in that case.

Thankfully, I do know Marianne's husband, so I made small talk with him while I desperately searched my so-called brain for the required data. Thankfully, also, I had no trouble remembering her last name, so I just had to keep plugging away at the [blank] Surname formula, and eventually my brain rebooted and I was able to ask relatively normally to speak with Marianne.

Of course, by then her husband probably thought I was drunk, but hey, marking is hell.

Explain my brain (if you can)

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Last night, the dream involved a prolonged, alcohol-infused visit to my vet.

Anyone who's met my vet will understand when I say this dream needs no interpretation. Several women I know own cats primarily as an excuse to go to this vet.

Lest you find the recurring theme of 'what I dreamt last night' less than exciting, I ask you to ponder this: I never remember my dreams. Brain people insist that I do dream, so I'll accept that. But typically, I wake up every morning, completely oblivious to whatever wild imaginings my subconscious has been using to entertaining itself (unless it involves almost-sex with celebrities - those I remember).

For the last few nights, though, I dream and remember. There was the scary drowning in Ontario dream, the weird pooping kangaroo dream, and now the party with the vet dream.

So why, oh wise and knowing readers, do these ones stick?

Paging Dr. Freud

Remember the Lake Ontario dream? Well, last night's nocturnal episode was that we had a pet kangaroo and I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out how to get it to use the litter box.

At least driving my car into a lake and drowning is easy to interpret. Now it appears that my subconscious is on vacation and is playing someone else's reruns.

Upping the ante, present-wise

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Welcome to the world, Joshua Adam O'Keefe, and bless you for having the grace to arrive on your godmother's birthday.

Not many details at present - Alison had a C-section this morning, and was delivered of a boy. I guess I'd better get back to that knitting!

Fanfare for the Common Maggie

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image from www.melissavaughn.com

Subliminal messages

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Last night I dreamt that I was driving along a highway in southern Ontario and I knew that I was about to drive into Lake Ontario but I didn't panic because I knew my window was open and that all I had to do was wait for the water to start filling the car and open my door and swim to shore.

Unfortunately, when the time came to open my door, my hands couldn't apply enough pressure to push the handle. None of the other windows were open, and since they're electric windows, I was stuck. Just as I was considering whether or not I could kick the passenger window open, I woke up.

I don't know if this means that I feel like I am drowning in work at the moment, or just that I have a hitherto unrecognized terror of anything to do with Ontario.

Mommy Dearest (Journal 3)

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Hello, my name is Maggie and I am a working mother.

They say that admitting the problem is half-way to solving it.

There is an essay by Margaret Atwood called ‘If You Can’t Say Anything Nice, Don’t Say Anything at All.’ Much like Judith Warner and Anna Quindlen, Atwood’s point boils down to this: for some reason, regardless of generation and historical context, women are compelled to be Woman; i.e., we strive for some unattainable feminine ideal. Once upon a time, that meant always wearing gloves, sitting as elegantly as Jackie Kennedy, knowing how to cook the perfect pot roast, and always knowing where your vacuum bags were. Now, the perfect woman is independent, politically aware, and educated and ambitious – while still reading all those Cosmo articles about ‘what he really wants in bed.’

Stress, schmess

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This is my life at the moment:

Morning - teach two-hour class on critical thinking, reading & writing...

drive through various conglomerations of construction vehicles and the resulting traffic mess to a completely different college...

afternoon - attend three-hour Developmental Psych classes...

drive back (now at rush hour)...

evening - teach two-hour class on issues of identity in Canadian women writers' works (and the last two evenings, this class was devoted to individual conferences with the students to review their writing skills, which means that last night I got home just after 9 p.m., and the night before, just after 10).

In between all this, I am prepping classes, reading the psych texts, writing journals and other assignments, finishing leftover assignments from the Assessment course, and preparing my portfolio to mark the completion of the first third of the program.

This morning I woke up in a panic and had to ask Dr. T what day it was - I had a dream (which seemed interminable) that I had forgotten my Thursday evening class, and that it was actually Friday this morning. My panic was not abated by the helpful newsreader on the radio who apparently had the same nightmare and kept referring to the weekend as 'tomorrow'.

Four more weeks, four more weeks, four more weeks...

Be True to Your School

Alexander Astin’s Theory of Involvement makes a lot of sense to me, not only in the context of recent class discussions, videos and readings, but also in terms of understanding my students and my own student experiences.

When I think back to my Cegep experience, I can see Astin’s theory in practice: my first attempt at Cegep ended in complete disaster, and not just academically. I finished my first semester in Pure & Applied Sciences at Champlain St-Lambert with five failed courses (including English), depression and an utter lack of motivation, a rejection of authority, and a rift with my parents that took many years to heal.

Three years later, when I started taking evening classes at Vanier, my motivation had returned. Success in those courses led me to enroll as a full-time day student. I joined the student newspaper – and school was suddenly the best place on earth. As a member of the newspaper group, I met many students in other clubs and associations, I dealt with our student politicians, I developed relationships with members of the administration, and I learned more information about my school than I knew existed.

Weather or not

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At the risk of sounding uber-Canadian, let's talk about the weather. It sucks.

It is currently 11 C. Eleven!! It's June 11th, and it's 11 C.

(as always, for the benefit of our American friends: 52 F)

Now, granted, it is morning, and the forecast is calling for a high of 19, which is not that far from the 'normal' of 22 C (66 F and 72 F, respectively). But add to the temperature woes the fact that it has been raining for, like, ever, and you get some idea of why, once again, all we can talk about around here is the weather.

The rest of the week looks better, with highs in the low 20s and 'variable cloudiness' instead of the 'incessant, mind-numbing drizzle' with which we've been faced the last few days. But with all due respect to the meteorological Cassandras, they've been wrong before. Like last week. And the week before.

We'll see. In the meantime, the furnace came on last night, the cat is damp and miserable, and the house smells faintly of wet towels all the time (I hasten to clarify that this smell does not actually come from wet towels).

Pffft!

Timing is Everything

My first Developmental Psych journal entry, based in part on recent posts and comments:

After our first class, I became a little obsessed with the question “when did you become an adolescent.” I have been conducting an informal poll ever since. My sons, who are 8 and 6 years old, both said that they would be teenagers when they turned 13, because, as Colin said, “it’s thir-TEEN.” My husband and another male friend said they became adolescents when they started high school. I’m still debating whether I trace my adolescence back to the onset of menstruation or to my last year of elementary school. Perhaps our sense of one’s adolescent self is really a social construct. My mother and her sister both said that they never felt like they were teenagers. They grew up, the oldest two of six children, in Glasgow, with a lot of academic pressure – my mother started at Glasgow University at the age of 16. They both emigrated to Canada almost immediately upon graduation, and when I talked to them it seemed to me that they both felt that they had been thrown from childhood to adulthood with no real chance to adjust along the way.

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