And then Blossom Deary Died

I was dreading last Monday. The committee to revise the Core met to micro-edit the proposal for new outcomes. Nothing is more wearying than wordsmithing by committee. But we soldiered through each parsing of phrase and may even have lurched upon a good set of outcomes. Then there were the papers to grade, the perpetually growing stack of student essays that never really ends until the semester is over: always this anxiety, always this sense that there is something else I should be doing. By semester's end I will have graded close to 1,500 individual pieces of student writing. That's a lot of missed apostrophes.

My 1:00 pm honors seminar was lethargic and quiet. I am not teaching with my mouth shut. I am not using the latest advances in active learning. I'm not incorporating clickers, Youtube, Twittering, or any number of the flashy gimmicks needed to engage the text-messaging generation. I'm merely gassing on like the worst professor I ever had, a logorheic buffoon who froths at the mouth, thick with his own spittle.

I had to do a graduation petition at 2:30, which always makes me nervous, especially with transfer students whose records are a patchwork of dubious equivalencies and credits that may or may not plug in where they belong. I keep having nightmares that I mess something up and get sued.

Then I picked up the boy at school, dashed home to make dinner: hastily grilled hot dogs and dollops of reheated mac and cheese. The boy we mentor comes on Monday evening, and I help him with his math homework and try to keep him engaged until his mother, an adult student, shows up around 8:00 pm. She tells us that she's more or less been furloughed without pay. So my wife and I commiserate with her for a while.

It's the middle of the semester. The economy is tanking. People are losing their jobs and I am stinking it up in the classroom. The world is February gray and filthy with sand and melting snow. And then I go on line and see that Blossom Deary died. She was a wonderful jazz artist, famous for her unique helium-filled voice. Her recording of Surrey With the Fringe on Top has given me great pleasure over the years.

The death of artists should not pass without notice and gratitude for their gifts. Rest in peace, Blossom, and thank you for making this weary world just a little bit wonderful.

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