Monday, May 16, 2011

Five, Six, Se-ven, Eight!

For about a week, I'm in that lovely in-between time that occurs when one semester is finished before another one begins. It's especially pronounced between spring and summer, since my summer teaching load is so light (only one class, since I taught over my contractual requirements in spring) and yet such a concentrated class. (Seriously - I warn my students on Day 1 not to confuse my summer college class with Vacation Bible School. If they want three college credits, they're in the right place and shall continue to be there for the next five weeks every day class meets and they will come prepared. If they want to learn about everlasting love and watch a bean seed grow in a Styrofoam cup, they ought to hie themselves elsewhere. Enrollment tends to drop after Day 1.)

But that's next week. Since last we spoke, papers, tests, and projects were graded, grades were calculated and then posted. (Within two hours, I had the first complaint, but that's another story.) Graduation was held and the rain even held off from drenching the outside ceremony. I always rather enjoy commencement, despite the heat and the hard aluminum bleachers. Our students have accomplished something - and often something big that other people had mistakenly told them they couldn't do, and that's worth some noise and a sore behind. (Note to students coming up - it's also worth learning the value of subject/verb agreement and coherent thought. Just sayin'.) I spent the last half of this week cleaning the office and decompressing from a long, tough slog through the spring semester. Some of that involved getting out of town and doing some light hiking (the right ankle still goes "ow!" sometimes, so I pretty much just strolled in the woods), eating food that was deliciously bad for me, getting to know my faithful dog again, browsing in a book store or two, and spending time with the man who knew my moods, yet married me despite them.

The latter is something we intend to continue this week as he finally receives his Christmas present, which is a short vacation spent sightseeing without conferences, medical appointments, or anything else other than "hey, you want to tackle the Natural History museum or that place with the spatter paintings?" (He likes Jackson Pollock way more than I do.) There will be adventures galore to relate to you, as we're making this a Vacation on an Academic Budget, which is to say we're traveling only slightly higher up the food chain than when I was a student staying in the cheapest of hostels and traveling on a ticket stamped "cattle class." (I regret none of that, by the way. You meet very interesting people and gain a sense of freedom and curiosity.) We're traveling by Megabus (sounds like a horror movie, doesn't it?) and staying in a place we discovered through a Website that's a house, not a hotel. (Hey - before you knock us for traveling by bus - no two hour early check in, no baggage fees, free Wi-Fi and more leg room. I'll tell you what it was like, but I just might turn into a fan. And don't even think of that "they're gone. I'll break into their house and take all their academically-oriented books to resell on eBay!" Three words - "big dog" and "house-sitter.")

FryDaddy and I may have finished our respective academic dances for the semester, but we spent a chunk of yesterday at a dance recital. Our goddaughter, Ramona, takes lessons in dance and gymnastics (also karate - she's testing for her yellow belt in about a month) and it was her time to show off a year's worth of work. Also, her mother, Barefoot, was in an adult tap class (that sounds dirty, but it isn't. Just a class for over-18s.) along with Librarian Who and another friend of ours. Wow. Not having grown up with the dance recital culture, this was eye-opening to me. We went last year for the first time, so I knew a little bit of what to expect (I packed a snack, for instance.) While many of the numbers were distinguished by cute-as-proverbial-buttons outfits (especially the "Mary Poppins" and other little kid numbers), a few stood out, such as the annual "Daddies & Daughters" number, which featured large, often burly men, gamely strutting about with bright pink socks that matched their daughters' tutu-esque dresses. The little girls couldn't have been older than four and the overall effect was one of charm and adoration.

The same could not be said of a couple of other numbers, about which I shall be silent other than saying three things. 1 - Please pay attention to costuming, especially your high school aged girls. 2 - Listen to the lyrics before choosing the music. 3 - Resist cheap sentiment. It makes it look like you don't trust your dancers to communicate the basic ideas of the piece. I feel like a curmudgeon, but if I'm going to pay to be there for 3 plus hours with no way to use the ladies' rest room, I get to snark.

Dance shoes were in evidence yesterday - ballet, jazz, tap. I even got into the act with my latest present from FryDaddy. For years, I'd wanted these and had always talked myself out of getting - they just weren't practical. Then I saw that high-top Chucks have gone way beyond plain canvas. Mine are at the top of the post - double tongued, black-with-lavender. Do they probably look silly on me? Yep, and what's it to you? Much better than charging the cost of the mortgage for a pair of strappy sandals. I'm not really a "shoe hog," but I have to admit, these make me smile.

Off to the office - must get prepped for the first day back so craziness can be kept at a minimum when I actually get back.

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