It has been a long week! I’m so happy it’s Friday (the lesser-known acronym ISHIF) and not only Friday but a Friday with no meetings or oral exams. Huzzah! I am finally back in my office (coffee shop) drinking an americano and slamming a chocolate croissant. I have big plans for this stack of grading. Last night while I was meditating my way through an extremely exhausting evening of concert jazz (more on this later) I decided I would really take this stack of grading seriously, from a pedagogical standpoint, and actually try to give my students something to work with on future papers. I’m going to type up a page of comments for each one of them, and then refer back to those comments on all subsequent papers, so that I get a good feeling for who is improving on issues I told them to improve on, etc. Oh boy how ambitious is this? I love the thankless labor of teaching because it helps me continue not wanting to have kids. I already do SO MUCH thankless labor for ungrateful youths, I think I do quite enough thank you
It all started with these faculty bylaws meetings, which are just taking up an amazing amount of time. On Tues/Thurs normally I wouldn’t have to go in to campus, but now we have meetings almost every Tues/Thurs, so I’m schlepping my ass to campus all the time. Then my dear friends who are in a wonderful woodwind quintet came to campus and I was somewhat nominally in charge of making it happen and it was my first time putting on a real event at this school and it was just so hard. At my last (small, private) school to do something like this you’d just toddle down the hall and be like “denise can I have $300 cash” and she’d hand it to you and then you’d go stick a handwritten note on the door of the concert hall being like “everybody clear out of here by 6” and then that’d be it. Such is not to be the case at the massive lumbering underfunded state university!! SO many people had to be involved, and SO much paperwork, and then the paperwork would get lost, and the person you sent it to would say you had never sent it to them, so then you’d passive-aggressively forward them the original email you’d already sent to them, which would go un-commented-on, and finally you’d get it all set up only to find that the people who run the concert hall hadn’t planned on having any tech support there for the event even though it’s on the calendar, and then it turns out that when you book an event you’re supposed to informally check in with the tech people, but of course no one tells you that, and now the quintet’s check is going to be late because of more lost paperwork (and the paperwork gets lost in the first place because our accountant quit and there’s a hiring freeze so we couldn’t replace her, so we just have no accountant, so no one knows who is in charge of anything involving money), etc. etc. Meanwhile I had to go to one of those recital hearings I periodically have to do, which I HATE DOING, because they cause me incredible anxiety because I’m literally supposed to sit there and tell a french horn player all the ways they need to play some piece better. I don’t have any opinions on this issue, I have never touched a french horn (or equivalent) in my life, I don’t care about performance practice, I’m sorry, it’s just not part of my purview, and I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I have to be the academic representative on a committee of performance faculty who all clearly–for real, like I’m not just being self-deprecating–think (correctly, at least when it comes to this one bounded scenario) that I am truly stupid. I just always say the student needs to “work on articulation” and “make the lines sing more” and “play with more confidence.” Then the performance faculty talk for 20 minutes about the transition into the subdominant and how those augmented sixths really need to emphasize the third because that’s the note that’s going to become the sixth of four and didn’t you realize that that line is the main melody (I made all that up and it doesn’t make sense but that’s the general gist). Anyway I guess that’s how you learn to be a great musician, credit where it’s due, nobody said it ought to be a walk in the park, I mean have you seen Whiplash? I haven’t and won’t but anyway that’s the general idea). Meanwhile I was also trying to teach my crazy class which involved bringing in a whole jazz band to lecture and getting that all set up etc. etc. Then I sat in my office for awhile, then went to the quintet concert, which was, luckily, AMAZING, and went off without a hitch, and I was so happy during it. Such amazing musicians. So good for our students to witness! My only sorrow is that I hardly got to see my friends all day and didn’t get to sit in on their master classes, which I thought would be really fun.
I got home beat at 10:45, having been on campus from 8-10. My old man was sitting up asleep at the table with a plate of macaroni, waiting for me. As soon as I walked in the door he pushed the plate at me and got up and went into the bedroom and shut the door and went to sleep. I shoveled mac into my mouth and went to bed immediately, and listened to my stomach process the mac for what seemed like a really long time. The next day I got up at 6, walked the dog, met my friends for breakfast, which ruled, went to another bylaws meeting, went to the home of a famous poet for grilled cheese sandwiches and to talk about some exciting future opportunities for this class I teach, went to Whole Foods and bought hesperidin because I read somewhere it’s good for night sweats, went back to my office and wrote up a syllabus and a reading guide. And I then went to this concert jazz performance I had required my students to attend. I will admit that like most of my students I profoundly did not want to go to this event. For starters it was like negative five degrees out and windy. Secondly I detest concert jazz, like, morally. And I was exhausted. And then the two girls in front of me texted and giggled for LITERALLY the entire show. And I felt like, yes, this music is boring, but lord, that is just so RUDE, like how can this be humanity? I started spiraling into existential depression. So then I closed my eyes for the entire 90 minute show, and I just meditated. It was amazing. The music would get noodly and boring and I would let my mind drift, back to my own teen years, when, although there were no cell phones (thank god), we were just as big of pieces of shit as these kids today. For example I remembered sitting in the front row of a required concert in college and it was a countertenor, which is a male soprano, and he was singing these genuinely lame songs about the tweeting of birds, and Katy and I got the giggles so bad that I thought I would die. It was an out-of-body experience. And we were like 6 feet from this performer, who was just seeing us dying laughing for probably 30 straight minutes, while he was singing. Just straight-up assholery, and at no point did we feel shame, we just thought it was so funny. That performer was absolutely not a human being to us. And I was a good kid, a nerd, afraid of getting in trouble, etc.! And still that is how I behaved in the world I shared with other people with human feelings. So I comforted myself with horrible memories like this one, and slowly my rage at these two awful girls in front of me dissipated and disappeared, and then I noticed that some really interesting things were happening in the music. I started paying attention and realized that the music was basically long boring self-indulgent noodly concert jazz solos interrupted by very, very interesting, beautiful, complicated brass band arrangements. Some of the most insane polyrhythms I have ever heard, impossible to recreate by tapping your hands on your knees, as I heard many people around me trying to do. Then that part would end and more noodly concert jazz bullshit would start, and I would zone out again, and think more about youth and poor behavior, and I’d think about stuff like what I said earlier, about how I’m going to grade this stack of papers, and I’d think about how excited I was to eat leftover macaroni when I got home, and I’d think about better ways of organizing the chapters in my book proposal. Then the music would get interesting again and I’d focus again. I lost track of time. It was great. After the concert I saw one of my students and she said she too had had to close her eyes to deal with it! So we are actually all the same.
I drove home listening to Lore, a podcast I don’t really like but am sometimes weirdly compelled to listen to. I just wish the guy’s delivery weren’t so affected. Also he says incorrect things sometimes, for example in the vampire episode he said a lot of historically false stuff, and so now I feel like I can’t take any of his episodes seriously. It’s this sad thing where everybody lauds a podcast or some stupid online essay for being “nerdy” and “well-researched” but honestly the research is at the wikipedia level and that depresses me. And yet I keep listening. It’s so close to being a great podcast! Anyway it’s great for night driving.
Hey, the macaroni was great, and the pizza was great.
And anyway the point is that today is ISHIF and now my americano is gone and it’s time to get my second cup and start this stack of grading!!!!!
This morning we lay in bed laughing and composing a parody song about baby boomers set to the tune of “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger:
“Just take those old records off the shelf
actually they are vinyl re-releases
Today’s music is hard to understand
Because I’m a fucking baby boomer
Don’t try to take me to a rap show
I have to go to my job at Goldman Sachs
I think Bob Dylan is “political”
I’m just a motherfuckin’ baby boomer
I realize this is a very hurtful song to our nation’s wonderful boomers and I am sorry.
Anyway we were singing that song because tonight we are going to watch Risky Business, which I have never seen and which my old man has to teach next week. He spent a long time trying to get me to believe that you see Tom Cruise’s penis in this movie (“He shows his penis in almost every movie he’s in. He’s the Harvey Keitel of showing his penis in movies”). Then he accused me of WANTING to see Tom Cruise’s penis and I countered by noting that EVERYONE ON THE EARTH wants to see Tom Cruise’s penis! But it’s never gonna happen
Sad adult realizations