Monday, September 22, 2008

Arrghhh. Kids today.

So I get this email late last week. Well wait. Just to provide some context:

* If a class is full, or a student hasn't fulfilled all of the prerequisites for a class, or if the registration dates for the class have passed, then the only way a student may enroll in a class is to fill out what's called a force-add slip, which authorizes the registrar to add students above the maximum enrollment, past the regular registration range, or who wouldn't otherwise qualify.

* These force-adds are authorized entirely at the discretion of the instructor. I don't have to let anyone into my classes who puts me over my cap, who is coming into the class late, or who hasn't met the prerequisites. Doing this is a favor. You ask a professor if they would be nice enough to do this.

* I got this email late last week. On the 19th, to be precise.

* Classes started on August 25th.

That said, I now present the email in its entirety. Names have been changed for the obvious reasons.

Subject: Signature
Fri, 19 Sep 2008 00:00:10 -0400

This is SUZY SNOWFLAKE. I need to change my Introduction to Psychology time and need you to sign a Change of Schedule form to enter your class. I was wondering if there was any possibility to see you about ten or fifteen minutes prior to your Child Development class tomorrow so you can sign the form.




We're a month into the semester and you just now want to add my class? You "need" to change your time? Well, I "need" a wet bar in my office and both fog and lasers to herald my entrance into the classroom. Looks like we're both being grossly unrealistic and are both shit out of luck.

I think what gets me the most is the "I need you to do this for me", as if I'm a salesperson at Abercrombie or something. No, see, it works like this: If you're nice, polite, and recognize that you're asking me to go above and beyond, you have a shot. Just a shot. If you approach me like the help and tell me "chop-chop, I have places to be", you get nothing.

I have heard stories from my colleagues about the ridiculous sense of entitlement that seems to distinguish the current generation of college students, but this is one of the few times I've run into it directly. I had a student challenge a grade I gave her once, on the grounds that she didn't think the material on which I was testing her was important. A colleague of mine had a student approach her after class on the first day and tell her that he was going to need for her to "sell him on why he should take this class". She, of course, looked at him like a new and particularly odious species of insect. Just last week, another student requested that one of my colleagues give her a make-up exam next month because, like, she just booked a flight home the day of the exam.


Some times we run into this wall, where we find out that we can't have everything we want when we want it, no matter how much we think we deserve it.

I told the student no, that we were a month into classes, the first exam was in three days, and there was no way for her to catch up.

I've become very familiar with "no."

Wait for it...not just yet...

I've finally reached that point in the child development class that I'm teaching where I've gotten to talk about fun things like infertility, birth complications, stillbirth, etc. Normally when I prepare the lectures for this class, I follow the book pretty closely, mostly because this is a class outside of my area of specialization. I did notice, however, that when I wrote the section on infertility and fertility treatments for one lecture, I barely consulted the book at all. I'm still not sure if half of what I talked about is actually in there in any great detail.

I've been going back and forth on whether or not I want to mention my own experience in this class, and having gone into as much detail as I have about things like hyperemesis, IUI, what viability exactly means at 24 weeks, all of that, I almost feel like I have to. I've just been afraid it'll be gratuitous or self-involved (some people refer to "the wonder of me" syndrome in academia), but at the end of the day, I feel like personal examples can have the most impact. It's one thing to tell people something can happen, it's another to walk them through exactly what that means. Plus, most of the time I feel like I have enough distance on it that I can talk about it pretty matter-of-factly. I'm not one for messy public breakdowns.

But I'd prepared myself to do exactly that today, share my story as a way to cap off the bit on chemical pregnancy, miscarriage, and stillbirth. But I ran out of time, even ran a little over. A scream deferred, if I want to be cutesy about it. And now I wonder - do I bring it up next class, or let it sit there, waiting inside my head?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Like shouting from the bottom of a well

I want to strangle my computer today.

I just need to write a quiz. A 20-minute quiz to give to about 125 students. A class which is less a class and more a huge organism over which I exert control, rather than teach. I just want to write a quiz for them, and the software I use to write tests finally has to be uninstalled and reinstalled after a complete shutdown of my office computer. I am dreading installing Service Pack 3.

Ah, the joys of the new faculty member.

Weird flashback moment: I go to the doctor this morning for a follow-up appointment to see how I'm doing on the happy pills he prescribed to me almost a year ago. Last time he saw me was October. I don't think he knows we lost the boys, unless S. told him, because she goes to him too. Actually, when we lost the boys, I'd forgotten to refill my prescription, so I went through everything without being on my meds. I'm not sure what it says that I didn't really notice at the time. So I'm sitting in his office waiting for him, and all of a sudden, all of the trappings of the medical office get to me - the sharps containers, the swabs, the gauze pads, the exam table - all of a sudden I'm right back on hospital time, right back at the place where we delivered the boys. Just for a minute or so, and then it's gone. Doctor comes in, and we're talking about how long I've been on my happy pills, and he suggests that we hold off talking about weaning off until after the winter months, what with how the season affects us emotionally and all. I think about the 1-year anniversary coming up in December, and fuck no, I want to be all kinds of medicated when that shit comes down.

We went to a reception at my chair's house the other night for staff and faculty, and I was surprised at the number of babies there, playing. Talk of children and buying houses. Any money we could save toward a house is going to hospitals for letting us lose our sons there. We have to leave early. We don't even say goodbyes, we just duck out. It's the beginning of graduate school all over again - I don't have much in common with these people, either.

Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.