I’d originally planned to donate the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcar to our local Route 66 museum, but those plans stalled when the pandemic hit, and Ron got impatient this week and put it on eBay without consulting me about the details.
If I’d posted it myself, I would have repainted the hood first, replaced some items on the dashboard, detailed it, and removed a few items of sentimental value before taking it out at the golden hour to photograph it in front of Tucumcari Mountain. I would have set the reserve a LOT higher to discourage scavengers who are just looking for a parts car. And I would have left it up for at least two or three weeks to give everybody on Route 66 who might be interested in driving it a chance to bid and figure out financing.
I didn’t realize what he’d done until he came in and told me someone had bid $900 for it. I hope whoever placed that bid really wants to drive it and isn’t just going to junk it out.
It isn’t junk. It’s in good shape, runs well, has been meticulously maintained, and deserves to go to a good home where someone will love it. If I didn’t have such a long commute, it would still be my daily driver.
The good news is that if you want to drive the hippie wagon, you can buy it for a lot less than it’s worth, and if you promise to love it and give it a good home, I’ll freshen up the color on the hood before you pick it up and send you a new set of curtains for it when the semester ends and I get a hand free to sew again.
The listing is here: https://www.ebay.com/itm/363081978888
I have now made it through my first week of grad school.
Two of my classes met this week; the third will start Monday night. I loathe the textbook for my research-methods class, but I like the professor, who has been very sweet and patient as I ease back into academia after a 23-year hiatus, so there’s that. Sadly, the textbook is a compendium of essays by writers who are, to borrow a phrase from my late eighth-grade lit teacher, “inebriated by [their] own verbosity.”
I’m fluent in several dialects of bullshit, including Late-20th-Century Professoric, High Mansplainish, and Old and Middle Educatorese, but this is the first time I’ve encountered Linguistics Philosopherian, which is basically self-important word salad. I finally figured out that the trick was to take notes on the essays first, then go back through my notebook and take notes on my notes. That second layer of note-taking yielded enough comprehensible material to use as the basis for my reading-response assignment; from there, I just had to translate the notes into Modern Professoric to crank out a decent paper. It’s only worth 20 points, and I managed to work in references to Keith Richards and the Infinite Monkey Theorem, so it’s fine, probably.
Thus far, I’m enjoying my Brit-lit class. The professor’s teaching style reminds me of my own, and the class is a mix of grad students and undergrads, so I basically sat around shooting the bull about King Arthur with a bunch of bright kids. The writing assignment for this week just involved reading something and then getting on the class discussion board and posting a 250-word response to the professor’s question. I was the first one to respond, so I’m not sure whether I hit the tone he was looking for, but hopefully he’ll let me know if I screwed it up so I can try again before Wednesday.
I have a couple of short stories to read before my fiction-writing class meets Monday, but I am otherwise finished with my homework, which is good, because I need to do some serious lesson planning this weekend, and Ramona could use a long walk and a romp around the park.
Can we just talk for a moment about the absolute ridiculousness of online education?
Everything sucks about the software I am required to use to teach my core classes, but I have to use it because we are standardizing everything to make it easier to switch back and forth in case we go back to school and then get sent home again a week later. I am not pleased, but I am less worried about this than my colleagues, because I have already accepted as given that A.) my kids are going to be about a year behind by the time we get back to normal, and B.) it doesn’t matter, because I routinely close much bigger gaps than that. (That’s not bragging; it’s just a function of spending part of the No Child Left Behind era teaching in an overcrowded Title I school in Oklahoma, where teachers were the wingnut politicians’ favorite scapegoats.)
Our mandatory software does not have any automated journalism classes, and my district is all excited about Google Classroom, so I had to set up a new Google account and log into Chrome with it to set up a virtual newsroom. Teachers do not have school-issued laptops, which means I have to do this on my own computer. The problem, of course, is that Chrome is my primary browser, and I use it to research and write my novel. When I am logged into my school Google account, somebody at the regional ed office in Portales can monitor everything I do. On my own computer. At home. Outside of school hours.
I will NOT be offended if somebody starts a betting pool on how long it takes before I am called into the superintendent’s office to be interrogated about my interest in obscene 12th-century grotesques because I forgot to switch accounts before typing “sheela-na-gig” into my search bar. Anybody who thinks it will take more than a week is probably an incurable optimist.
Meanwhile, ENMU has standardized exactly nothing, so two professors are Zooming their classes, while a third is using Microsoft Teams, and while two of them seem content to email information to students, another is communicating almost exclusively through Blackboard.
And people wonder why my retirement plan is to go off the grid and stay there. Yeesh.
Here are things I am doing at the moment:
1. Getting ready for the first day of school. The jury is still out on whether this will happen from my office or from my classroom, but either way, I have to learn Google Classroom and digitize (read: rebuild from scratch, using the mandatory prefabbed software) my entire curriculum as soon as I find out what I’m teaching. Which I still don’t know, because my boss asked NMPED a question May 20 and didn’t get an answer until Tuesday night, after calling umpteen people and bugging hell out of them until they deigned to respond. I am not surprised; I’ve dealt with our state bureaucracy before. I realize the pandemic creates uncertainty, but our question was unrelated to that, and if they didn’t know the answer and didn’t have time to research it, they should have just said, “We’re not sure; hold off this year, and we’ll send this up the food chain and get you an answer next spring” instead of keeping us in limbo all summer. I really needed enough lead time to do some advance planning this year, because I am also …
2. Taking three grad-level classes. In a moment of weakness last summer, I let my boss talk me into enrolling in grad school. We’ll see how well I can juggle a full-time master’s program and a full-time teaching gig, all while …
3. Fostering a four-legged abuse victim. Shelters aren’t great places to work through PTSD, so Fionn the Chiweenie is now curled up under my desk, giving my feet a wary look. We’re pretty sure somebody kicked him hard enough to break a couple of ribs.* Riggy and Walter politely welcomed him to the pack, Tootsie is ignoring him, and Ramona reallyreallyreallyreallyREALLY wants to make friends and can’t figure out why he keeps snapping at her. (She will win him over. She wins everybody over. She is the consummate Hufflepuff.)
* Dog abuser, if you’re reading this, please understand that “Fought a descendant of Boudicca” sounds much more impressive than “Kicked a 15-lb. Chiweenie,” and I would be DELIGHTED to help you upgrade that line on your resume. You’re welcome. Happy to help.