Saturday, 7 February 2015

Busy Weeks in February

These last few weeks have been full of the kinds of days where we both stay at the office late, eat a hurried dinner, and then work until midnight. David’s schedule was worse than mine, as he is in the process of reapplying for his job. By the time he gets through the last interview on Monday, he will have had over ten interviews, special lunches and dinners with the jobs committee, and one job talk, and all of these occurred in between teaching and preparing for four classes. These last few weeks for me were crazier than usual because my students were working on their first paper (thus I met with 20-30 students per day on my prep days). I’m also in the process of reworking all of my lesson plans and course materials, too. I’m always reworking my lesson plans, but this semester (as I’ve mentioned before) is the big overhaul.

David, in his professorial job talk clothing.
He'll be embarrassed that I posted this.
One of the highlights of my week was getting to see David’s job talk on Thursday. In the past, for every single one of David’s talks (including his dissertation defense but excepting his OU philosophy MA defense), I was in Delaware and we didn’t have money for me to fly in and see him. Because of this, I was ecstatic this week that our schedules aligned and I was able to see David give his job talk. He did a great job, of course, and no matter how many times I’ve read his notes or his papers, I was still super-impressed with his competency.

I get the fancy desk in my office now.
Meeting with students was also a highlight of the week for me. If I have to be extremely busy and stressed, I would rather it be because I have so many one-on-one meetings with students than for any other reason. These meetings give me a chance to build individual relationships with my students and their work, and because of them I am able to push my students to give me a lot more effort (hence, better papers). Psychologically, if you can get a person on your side (by simply caring about them and their work), then they will just give you a lot more. At least, this is my experience in working with people.

Today (Saturday), we are taking most of the day off to rest and reconnect. After David gets back from our car tune-up appointment, we’re heading to Spring, TX,  and one of our favorite bookshops (Good Books in the Woods). Knowing us, we’ll probably feel guilty for taking time off and we’ll spend time grading this evening.

We have a number of interesting things coming up in the future. First, because the weather is really great out here in the spring (mostly 40s, 50s, 60s), we’ve found ourselves enjoying talking long treks around campus in the evening. The Sam Houston campus is very hilly, so we get a pretty interesting workout as we walk around. David and I have always enjoyed long walks and we’re really close to some great state parks, so one activity that we’re going to try is some more serious hiking on the weekends.

Another reason why we are going to try some more serious hiking adventures is because if David gets the job here again for next year, then we are going to try and take a trip to the northeast this summer. The thought of hiking adventures in the beautiful wilderness of Oregon and Washington is enough to motivate us to take on the trails here (despite the fact that we may encounter poisonous creatures, particularly snakes). In addition, it’s been such a long time since we’ve taken a vacation together--just the two of us. I mean, we visit our families once or twice per year in Indiana, but this is very different than taking a vacation. I am very hopeful that this plan will come to pass.

My basil plant in the sunshine this afternoon.
In two weeks, David is going to presenting at a conference (a book review) and I will be covering his intro philosophy class. My topic is Aristotle’s Golden Mean, and I’m both excited and nervous about it. Other people probably have this fear all the time, but I get so nervous about covering David’s philosophy classes because I am just SURE that some student is going to have great objections and I won’t know how to respond. Then I’ll be just the silly wife of the philosophy professor (one of my greatest fears is that I will become just a smart man’s wife rather than an intelligent instructor who is distinctly Katie). I know that especially at Sam there really isn’t a chance of this happening, but it could happen someday. On the other hand, though, it’s always really fun to teach a different subject than Composition every once and a while (even though I love teaching comp, I also love developing teaching skills in other subjects). I think I will also bring them candy, so as to increase my odds of success.

Well, it’s off to enjoy this beautiful sunshine. And books.