Monday, September 1, 2008

Reverse culture shock

Writing is definitely not my thing. The new school year starts (yet again), and I find myself reading other people's blogs about other people's lives. It's disheartening to consider that the most obvious conclusion to draw are a) my life is so dull that I need to read about the day-to-day happenings of other lives to entertain myself or b) I dislike my life so much that read the day-to-day happenings of other lives just to escape.

Returning from travel abroad seems to throw the average happenings of life into the mundane. I would say into stark relief, but there just doesn't seem to be anything here stark about it. Of course I 'm not entirely sure I would prefer to travel constantly. For one thing, it turns out to be a somewhat isolated and lonely existence. (But then is life in Tiffin that much more social?) It's also stressful dealing with the unpredictability of travel. At least the stress of tomorrow's lab is stress that I know. Sort of.

It's a new lab (and course) for me this semester, and there are constant little reminders of that First Year Experience (that would be the first year as a professor) as I build lectures day by day, and lab from scratch. The number of hours it takes to feel like I know enough to run a class period. The extra time to make materials for that class period. And walking into class knowing that if I just had one more hour to prepare, it would be so much better. Being older, with 9 years of experience, just means I'm not willing to trade on one more hour of sleep. (That is, if I could sleep over all this jet lag that I'm wading through.) The office next door is inhabited by an actual First Year, who is in fact trading her sleep for that extra hour of work. She's doubly loaded as she works through the last bits of writing for her dissertation--just watching her work is tiring. The comparison makes me feel grossly inefficient.

So I should be working...I have a quiz to grade, a lab exercise to edit, and my resume to update for the latest round of campus evaluations. Instead I'm reading about former students now working in Disneyland, the Czech Republic, or just as far as Fremont, and thinking about the last month I spent in New Zealand and Australia. If I lived there, would I be sitting at a computer, fantasizing about my travels here? (Does anyone ever travel to Tiffin?) Still reading about other people's lives?

I've gotten 4 messages on Facebook about the trip (jealousy, wonder)--and looking over my pictures makes me nostalgic about it: e.g., the view was wonderful; hard to remember how @#$* cold it was on that peak... But washing laundry this morning just doesn't really seem on par with walking around the top of Mt. Stromlo, even if it was freezing. Even LAUNDRY somehow seemed less mundane--when it was in the Blue Mountains.

The big excitement of my day today was...getting an email from someone new. It doesn't quite have the same ring. So the trick of the semester is to find the fun in the day-to-day. And not to stress about how it sounds in a blog. Dramatic turn of phrase, perfect paragraph construction, and immactulate grammar and spelling aren't something I seek out in other peoples' blogs, so I'm not going to demand them of myself.

After all, a blog isn't really for a grade, is it?

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