Thursday, November 21

tally marks

it is the time of year (the academic year, anyway) where because it has become so bewilderingly difficult to split your time among the three different twenty-page-ish essays you're supposed to be working on, you sit down and write meandering blogposts instead.

and it is that time of the year (academic or not) when you start to look backwards, piercingly, searching for evidence that you've learned and grown and become at least a few tiny inches closer to whoever it is you're trying to be.

there are two weeks left of classes. this time, still autumn, still warm enough for rain, still pre-holiday, seems a very good, deep, pregnant (as in with possibility and ideas, not with literal human offspring, though maybe fall is a good time for that too?) time of year.

I wanted to make some kind of list of accomplishments. but deciding what to put on it seems kind of daunting and of course arbitrary. what have I actually done since I came to Indiana? so much. not all of it sounds all that interesting, but it filled in all the space between the end of July and now. somewhere in all those seventeen weeks, I have...

· slept probably around 820 hours or so
· spent something like 2347 minutes making phone calls
· paid four months' worth of rent
· acquired some furniture
· skipped my high school reunion, somewhat regretfully
· checked out thirteen books from the Purdue Library
· written twenty-one blogposts, not counting sunday scribbles, the ten here, or these five over there
· watched two or three sunrises
· sent 241 emails from my account (+ received 1062)
· visited Chicago twice
· learned a few new words, like "meliorist," "belletristic," and "imbricate"
· observed three of my fellow English 106 instructors
· gotten rid of three pairs of shoes
· started compiling a file of every single thing I've ever composed
· become weirdly fascinated with vegans and veganism
· complained plenty about the awful complexity of the cakephp framework
· baked three pumpkin pies + two pavlovas
· composed 376 twitterings
· biked to campus six whole times.
· spent 46 hours, one every Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday teaching
· failed to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving
· rearranged all my furniture once
· jotted down 6557 words of scattered teaching notes and ideas
· started listening to more podcasts (this one is usually very good and makes me want to be a journalist or an editorthis one is ironically neat to listen to on Sunday mornings.)
· read four ebooks
· taken many walks

...and who knows how much else. throw in some conversation, some climbing of stairs, some flossing, a bit of staring off into space. I'm surely leaving out oodles of detail. I must, or we'd all die of tedium.

does this list paint anything like the kind of picture I thought my first semester here would paint for me? is the self reflected by these fairly random activities anything like the self I think I am?

today in Composition Theory, Dr. Jenny Bay reassured us that no matter how stressful this end-of-semester tunnel may seem, nothing about it--not the grades, not the teaching foibles--nothing will matter very much in the very grand scheme of our lives or the universe. if we fail at academia (which is unlikely, but...), we have other skills. there are other roads.

at the edges of the tiny bud of relief that sprouted in response, there was also a question: is there really a grand scheme?

if there isn't, perhaps everything I've accomplished (if you can call these things accomplishments) this semester matters even less.

if there is, it's probably an amorphous, easily revisable scheme anyway. I can always look back and say I meant to do everything that way. I must have, right? otherwise how did it get done?

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