Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Last night I was in the college's fitness center - a rather small series of basement rooms, but at least they're out of the rain - when I had the privilege of overhearing a most appalling conversation.

One guy and two girls were hanging on the treadmill next to mine, chatting about the sort of random stuff college students talk about, when the subject turned to bodies. Not surprising, I suppose, considering that most of the people in the gym were there to work on their physiques.

First they started to trash one woman they know because of her powerful build - "she's super strong, but she looks like a dude."

Then one of the girls started bitching about the fact that this other young woman doesn't see anything wrong with being naked in front of other people. "Like, gross."

This, of course, segued into her ranting about how no one would ever see her naked, not even her boyfriend. "I'm a lights out girl. I mean, just LOOK at these thighs. I think not." Girl in question was probably 5 foot 3, 5 foot 4 maybe, and I'd guess her weight at about 125-130 lbs. In other words, not a large person by any stretch of the imagination. Actually, I don't think of myself as a particularly large person and I have a good 20-30 pounds on her.

Now, I've been seen naked in all different lighting conditions, and not once has a guy ever said, "WHOA - your thighs look huge!" In fact, the response is usually more along the lines of "You look so hot. C'mere. Now." But enough about my sex life...

By the guy's awkward pause, cough, and shuffling of feet when the girl made her "I'm so fat and ugly" comment, I'm pretty sure he was thinking that he wouldn't mind seeing her naked in whatever circumstance she wanted to offer. Why are women so hard on themselves about things that don't really matter to anyone?

I wanted to say something to this effect to her, but one, the circumstances were totally wrong (her trying to impress friends, me panting and running) and two, people with distorted body images will never believe suggestions that don't fit their warped views. Learned that from a friend with an eating disorder.

I suppose that's a topic we might eventually address in the OurCollegeName women's group if that ever gets off the ground.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Sanity Check

My life up here in Vermont is still pretty isolated. Only slightly more so than it was in Salt Lake or at the Grand Canyon, but that slightly seems to make a big difference.

Part of the problem is that both Jay and everyone else we know seems to be extremely busy. Look at a college instructor's schedule, and you might see the 10-15 hours a week of class time, which seems like a light work load. But then you factor in prep time, and especially grading time, and the weekly hours jump up to 30-60. Add in the apparent faculty/staff shortages this term, which mean that many people are teaching "overload", or more than the usual 12 credits/term, and you end up with a definite lack of time for socializing.

Most of my recent conversations have been more snippets and sound bites, tossed out while running down the hall or past another faculty member's office. I can't remember the last time I had a sit down conversation with another adult with actual listening involved. (Though I did get a little fix of that while visiting K2 down in NYC.) So much for the slower pace of life in rural Vermont.

I've been so bogged down with grading my backlog of assignments for the midterm progress report deadline this week that I haven't had time for the outlets that keep me sane: this blog, my writing, my critique circle, good pleasure reading, and all the other little creative things that stretch my brain. The only thing I have kept up with (mostly) is my exercise schedule. The plan this term was to get a minimum of 6 1/2 hours of exercise each week. I've pretty much stuck to that - with nice results in terms of physical health and fitness - but that, too, takes away from my creative time. And for my mental health, that creative time is essential.

So what I've decided to do is this: I will schedule a certain number of hours on specific days to grade student work. I will not skip those times (procrastination is part of the problem) nor will I grade outside those times (must set boundaries). As for the balance of mental and physical exercise... I'm still trying to figure out how to strike a balance.

I've started mentoring at one of the local middle schools - I meet with a seventh grade girl once a week at lunch - and have volunteered to advise the second attempt at a Women at OurCollege group. (Last year, the advisor was a bit too... aggressive and scared away most of the interested women before the group could get off the ground. We're starting with a more social gathering type group, to branch out into specific discussion and action meetings as everyone gets more comfortable with the idea.) I'm hoping both of these actvities will help me feel more connected and not just stretched further.

(Oh - and it looks like I missed my 4 year blogoversary last week. Four years...)

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Drowning in midterm grading.


Must find a more efficient way to grade 35 mediocre to crap papers.


By this time in past semesters, I've been down to 20 students or less.


I think I got spoiled by small class sizes last year.


Not that I want the students to go away.


But the non-participators with attitude problems?


Them, I would not miss.

Gurgle, gurgle, gurgle.

Friday, October 06, 2006


There are way too many damn people on this fricking island.

Spent yesterday on the train from Vermont down to New York City. Almost an eight hour trip. Someone who got on in Springfield, Massachusetts had evidently been... getting mellow for the ride, and until he/she got off the train in New Haven, Connecticut 2 hours later, we all enjoyed the contact high. Gag. I hate the smell of pot.

I had thought to spend the trip grading my students' journal entries (more reading reactions than diary type entries - at least they're supposed to be...), but the ride was kind of bumpy, the tray table was too small, and I just couldn't deal with lousy writing while moving backwards in a pot-scented compartment.

Instead, I alternated between reknitting the cuff of a pair of socks I knit too loosely back in June, and reading another crappy book. The book started off well, interesting premise, decent writing... but then. I don't like ANY of the characters. They all annoy me. The main character killed someone in the first part of the book, and he continues to make shitty choices as the story progresses... and progresses... and progresses. Damn thing is over 500 pages long, which usually, I appreciate, because I read pretty fast, and shorter books are done too quickly. BUT DAMN. I just want to know "whodunnit" and I have to spend time with people I can't stand (the characters) in order to find out. Irritating.

HOWEVER. Now I'm on the Upper East Side, chillin' with K2 in her tiny yet expensive apartment. And there's this thing. This thing I had forgotten all about. See, you can pick up the phone, tell people what you want to eat, and they BRING IT RIGHT TO YOUR DOOR. (Yes, I'm a bit overexcited by this fact... I live in the sticks, okay.) And you pay them, and they leave you the food and go away. Mmmmmm. Haven't had good Chinese food since I moved out west in 1999. It was kind of shocking.

Unfortunately, the Chinese is still shocking my system, so I'm going to have to continue my New York adventure tale later. Ugh. (But it was so tasty)