Saturday, June 20, 2009

some better

It's Saturday.

I went out and did grocery shopping and this time planned/forced myself to buy food that will actually bring some variety to my eating life. One thing I'm going to try is a tomato egg-drop soup I saw in one of my cookbooks. It's pretty simple -you can guess what it is from the name. Chicken broth, mashed up stewed tomatoes, thickened with cornstarch slurry, and then with eggs added. And at the end you chop up a few scallions on top. (I also bought a few mushrooms to add - thank goodness now the Wal-Mart has "bulk" mushrooms so I can buy the five I want to use as a garnish without having to buy a whole giant package and try to figure out what to do with the rest of them).

I think part of the problem is when I'm doing the "grab and go" (either salad, or yogurt, or crackers and cheese), I get bored and feel like I'm not taking care of myself - like I somehow don't merit cooking for.

I also mowed the lawn last night. Even though it was hot. This time I didn't feel like OH NOES I'M GONNA DIE HEAT EXHAUSTION afterward, I think perhaps it was either less humid last night or I'm slowly acclimating to the heat.

And I decided - after arguing about it with a colleague (and really, arguing with myself) that I'm gonna give the "it might be plagiarism, it might be an honest assumption that it's OK to collaborate even though they got all the same answers down to the word" people partial credit (1/3 each) because, after all, some of the other students in the class worked together to get data but then wrote their own lab reports with their own insights in them - and they shouldn't be penalized, I think, for doing their own work.

The other thing is, I just need to refocus. As I've said before: I need to concentrate on the 10% who give a damn. And luckily, in one class, I have that. One is an older student (call her B) who is returning to complete a degree after raising kids. She's super-interested in conservation and asks all kinds of good questions (some which I have to say, "Let me look that up and get back to you" on) and has good things to add to the discussion.

The other one (call him H) is returning to school after a few years in the workforce. (He is currently working at a bank but confided one day that his "boss lady" was crazy and that he was thinking of quitting, now that he had some money saved up he thought he could swing going to school without having to work). What I like about H. is that he is just NICE. He is a genuinely nice guy - he is friendly and helpful to the other students in the class, he's polite to me, he's just affable and good-natured. And that makes a giant difference in my world. I would much rather have a classroom filled with people like H. - who are not really super-star students (though he does do OK and if he doesn't get too hamstrung by crazy boss-lady, he could probably earn a B) but who are just decent people who treat those around them well, than a classroom full of brilliant folks who are either distant or who are unpleasant (and I have known some very brilliant students who were just bears to be around).

H. said to me, leaving class the end of this week, "Have a good weekend!" And I could tell from his tone and manner that he meant it - it wasn't just someone sucking up to the prof, it wasn't just someone saying an empty nicety.

And that makes a difference. It makes my week better and I am grateful to him for it. (Same old truth stands: you never know what "little" thing you say to someone may make a huge difference in their life.)

I don't know if H. is former military or not - he hasn't said anything about it but something from his bearing and his respectful manner almost make me wonder if he is. (I've had a number of former military students over the years, and the vast majority of them have been really good people - in some cases, people who "pulled up" a class that was otherwise slack-y and not so good - that their discipline somehow got the rest of the class to act better. I always like to get folks who are former Army or Navy (the most common veterans I get), or whatever service.)

I also had a good piano lesson yesterday and that makes a difference. My natural perfectionism works both in my favor and against me with this. It works in my favor in that I work hard on each piece until it is as good as I can play it, but it works against me because I find myself apologizing to my teacher for every little mistake, or feeling like I need to start over when I make one.

Though I guess I'm doing OK. She commented that because her other career (she also works in one of the university offices) is going to be more involved this fall, she's going to have to limit herself to a dozen students - she was going to rank people based on how regularly they showed up, how well prepared they were, etc.

I made some comment along the lines of "I hope you'll have room in your schedule for me" and she kind of chuckled and said, "Oh, you're one of the ones I plan to keep."

Still, it does blow my mind a little - you are (or your parents are) paying for lessons - not showing up UNLESS you are sick or something seems kind of foolish. As does continuing the lessons if you're not going to practice. I suppose it's different from an adult perspective. (When you've made and gone to your own dental appointments, when you've done your own taxes by hand, when you've worked for a living, practicing piano does not seem like such a chore).

But I always do take a little pride in being able to show up and play well and have her tell me I did a good job. Because that's something I crave, and something I don't hear often enough - the simple fact that I did a good job at something.

And now I'm home. I'm trying to write a Sunday school lesson (there is surprisingly little out there in the way of commentary on Exodus 5). This is an adult Sunday school so it requires a level of scholarliness beyond what I'd do for, say, a group of 6 year olds.

And then, I'm going to stay home. Not go over to the office, not sit and sift through the research material that I have to work on that will still be waiting for me on Monday. I can do it then.

I do have a bunch of scientific journals stacked up, plus some articles ordered through "official" interlibrary loan (as well as "unofficial" - that is, ask my mom, "Hey, if you're running by the University library up there, would you find this article for me?" - their library is much better stocked than mine and if I really need something, she can usually get it faster for me than the ILL). So I'm going to make my bed (I've already cleaned the bedroom) and sit on it and read with my nice big ceiling fan going over me. And it's going to be quiet and nice and I won't have to DEAL with anyone else.

1 comment:

Mr. Bingley said...

gosh, sounds like you've got a ton of stuff going on.

My Bride has found that the older returning students she has tend to be the better ones.