Friday, April 26, 2013

Finished (For Now)

Friends, I have good news: I am officially done teaching for the semester! I still have to grade a huge pile of work, of course, but prepping lesson plans, searching for readings, thinking up exercises, standing in front of a group of sometimes-interested undergrads, and trying to make them understand the things I am talking about? OVER. DONE. SEE YOU IN THE FALL. 

I know I have been a broken record this semester, complaining mentioning over and over how busy I've been, but can we review once more? For old times' sake? First, there was my own coursework - a novel writing workshop, which provided roughly 100 pages of reading and critiquing for each class; a creative nonfiction workshop, which demanded weekly workshops of small pieces in the first half of the semester (and which encouraged me to write a bunch of little things that have a lot of promise) and, later, two essays for workshop per week; and Ecotone, our literary magazine, for which I diligently read through the slush pile and helped make editorial decisions about what should go in the journal, and how and what to tweak for publication (AKA, yet another shit ton of reading, and yes, that is an exact measurement). I personally wrote and workshopped about 130 pages of my own writing, which, my god. I guess I was more productive this semester than I felt. 

Because here's the thing: being busy and being productive are not the same. Part of the reason I was so busy was not because of everything I just wrote in the previous paragraph. It was because of what I wrote in the very first paragraph of this post - my teaching load. I taught two classes this semester, and I had about 35 students total. The most time consuming class was Introduction to Creative Writing - 19 students, who  must learn the basics of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry in just four short months. In addition, they also get to workshop their own writing three times - a short story, an essay, and 3-5 poems. That is 57 workshops for one class. FIFTY. SEVEN. I hadn't done the math until just now, but it's no wonder I am experiencing serious workshop burn out. Luckily, my students were wonderful - engaged, enthusiastic, and they laughed at all my puns. Basically a graduate teaching assistant's dream. 

But that's all over now, at least until September. I still have a few loose ends to tie up before I'm officially done with Spring 2013, but for the first time in months, I feel like I finally have room to breath. I am so grateful for the chance to do what I love every day, to make writing and teaching my life, but passion is exhausting. I'm ready to watch a Buffy the Vampire Slayer marathon while drinking wine and painting my nails. I've earned at least that much. 

Another thing I've earned: simple, cheap, and delicious recipes that require minimum effort and deliver maximum flavor, such as the dinner pictured above, which I threw together last night after my last day of teaching, and before we headed to the launch part for the latest issue of Ecotone. Red beans and brown rice, topped with poor man's guacamole (IE, one avocado, mashed with the juice of two limes and a generous shake of garlic salt). Besides the guacamole, I followed the recipe exactly, and I recommend you do the same. It's over at Eat, Live, Run, and it's worth it.

I hope Friday treats you right, and that you're looking forward to an excellent weekend. See y'all on the other side!