Hamster Wheel

Yep, that’s what life feels like at the start of spring quarter—I’m running and running and out of breath and not always tactful and composing to-do lists in my head and still mucking about with work chores too far into the evening when I should just be listening to the ballgame and knitting, yet I never seem to really make any forward progress. (Heck, I’m lucky I’m not making backwards progress.)

I teach required first-year writing, of which we never have enough sections, so at the start of the quarter I’m besieged by importuning students who can all elaborately explain why I should admit them to my already-full classes. (And the official maximum class size has increased by 25% in the time I’ve taught at UCSC, so “full” has been growing steadily more exhausting over the years.) They think of themselves as “just one more” and don’t see what the problem is. I see them as an extra 50 pages of careful paper-reading on my weekends and as one more source sucking all the oxygen out of our CO2-heavy classroom air supply and say “no.” Some of them go away peacefully. Others throw tantrums, either via email or just outside the classroom door. This quarter, key terms directed my way have included f*ck, b*tch, and lame. So I find myself taking many a deep breath and trying to focus on the students who are in my class and who I need to regard with respect and a certain fondness, if we’re to work together productively—but this is not always easy to do when I’m being interrupted regularly by folks who think of themselves as special cases and who treat me like the hired help.

Enrollment will settle soon—and the students I do have in my classes have approached the work willingly and thoughtfully so far.

Anway, at the moment I’m chugging along on my shawl (12.5 pattern reps done; I’m estimating another 5.5 to go) and waiting for more sock yarn, but I’m not cooking up any original patterns or being particularly “creative.” This is one of those times when I need my knitting to be a comfort, not a challenge.

Thank you for bearing with me. I’m off to knit now.