Instead of grading…

Lately the feeling that the activities on my to-do list might just smother me in my sleep, creep off the page and into my unconscious, has left me with little emotion for anything else. I feel a flat sort of happiness when the sun comes out, or when I allow myself the luxury of a cup of tea.

Otherwise, I am: writing a 15 page paper on possessive determiners, writing reviews of other people’s 15 pages of possession, not reading that assignment on reserve in the Library, (or the preceding weeks’) making cryptic notations on 50 students’ essays, introducing the next essay, asking the director of composition if my introduction was correct, plotting to change the course of freshman history by making said 50 students actually love to proofread.

There are humorous moments as well, though. The other day I was having my 10:30 class do a group activity; the group in the front row turned to ask me more about the assignment. This degenerated into rapid-fire personal queries: how old I was, if I did in fact have a brother who was on the football team, where he lived (“I’m not giving you his address,” I told them), and what I was doing, exactly; if I were a Grad student. It occurred to me that I knew them all; their names, their personal histories, their majors, their strengths and weaknesses even, to some extent; and they knew little about me. I stood in front of them and talked about grammar and sitting still long enough to really observe something. Many of them still spell my name wrong.

At this point the entire class stopped to listen. “I still don’t understand this next essay,” said J.S., a girl with a sister and two brothers; her sister once pushed her down the stairs and broke her wrist. “I mean, it seems like it’s for artsy people. Like you would write it. You write really well, in your examples. I don’t know enough adjectives.”

Nobody knows enough adjectives. I don’t know enough adjectives. That’s not the point. The point is to think on paper, to force me to get what you mean. All it takes is a brain and a pen and basic knowledge of grammar.

And maybe time enough to breathe, too.

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