How Not to Begin a Weekend

I’ve been in a positively vile mood all day today; chalk it up to a very trying afternoon of senior thesis presentations yesterday (which I shouldn’t write about here, given my heavy student readership, but about which I will say that 6 of 12 were extremely good, and that I did a terrible job of (a) setting up the schedule, which inadvertently clustered all of the problems together, and (b) using my tenure-given right to say, loudly, “YOUR TIME IS UP. STOP TALKING NOW,” so I brought much of it on myself), and a too-late night in Pasadena last night, and a full week of less than six hours of sleep a night, and four nights this week of getting to bed after 1 am. As my mother used to say to me when I was upset about something going seriously wrong in my life, “You’re just overtired.” Pat, pat, pat. Which only made me want to slug her, which would only have perversely proven her point, which was ultimately about my irrationality and lack of mature emotional control.

So I got up way earlier than I wanted today, bit R.’s head off on the telephone, stormed around the house collecting and taking out garbage, and then sat down to do the thing I least wanted to do today: write an introduction for Bill Keller and Barry Siegel, who were closing out this weekend’s Alumni Symposium. It came together quickly enough, but I resented having to do it, resented having to get out of my pajamas and make myself presentable and go do an introduction for an event that I didn’t plan and for which I’d get no credit. (This is the kind of vile mood I was in: put-upon, abused, wanting nothing more than to be left alone, which really would have been better for all concerned.)

In any event, it’s Alumni Weekend, which means that all the parking in town is taken, people are prowling all over campus, all the restaurants are full, and I’m in that on-display position where I have to smile and be sweet when people ask me inane questions. That said, though, this is the first year that I’ve had a slew of my former students come back for the festivities. It’s been great getting to see them, if my mondo stacks of grading (which I can’t get done because people keep asking me to do other dumb things that I stupidly agree to) and my foul mood have kept me from seeing much of them. This influx, though, includes a couple of regular and/or recent commenters here, and what may be another future few. In fact, the second member of the class of 2000 that I saw said to me, inside of five minutes, “So I hear you have the most amazing blog.”

Which, great. I’m getting good word of mouth. I love this site, love meandering around whatever nonsense happens to pass through my grouchy, overworked, underappreciated brain, and I love that people whose opinions I care about read it, and comment, and tell one another. I’m all for an audience, especially an appreciative one.

But my vileness of mood left me this morning thinking oh great, now people are going to expect things from this blog, and it’s going to be like when you go see a movie after too many people have told you it’s great, and you just think eh. Or worse, now there’s pressure, and watch me get some kind of writer’s block, and not be able to post anything worth reading again.

Like I said, vile mood.

But the Keller/Siegel show was great, and I was actually glad that I was forced to go to it. And then I went to my office and got a couple of key bits of paperwork I’d been stalling on done. And then I took a stack of grading to a local coffee shop and hung out at a sidewalk table, enjoying the sun and actually cranking through some signficant paperage. And then I took three fabulous graduating seniors, who’ve hung out with me for three years through the faculty resident gig, to dinner. And later tonight I’m going to go see one of them in Assassins.

So the mood is on an upswing, as today has turned out better than expected, and tomorrow promises all the pajamas and green tea and grading on the balcony I could want. The weekend may be salvaged yet.


  1. Screw expectations… this is your blog, we’re just fanboys and fangirls. Divide and conquer and then bask in the glow… you’re a mother, blogger, professor and I don’t even know what else. The fact that you get out of bed should be enough. (and your CAPTCHA words are precious… the one below now says, “needed”).

  2. Blogs seem to be popular with the c’2000 crowd — a lot of us have them, even more know about them, and quite specifically yours. “Did you know that one of our English professors has a blog now?” was asked, answered, and overheard more often than necessary.

    I forgot how sunny and peaceful it is in Claremont. Its sad that people can feel tired and stressed there.

  3. The pj’s and green tea were in fact fabulous. I also managed to clean the house, color my hair, and grade like a maniac. Turned the weekend right around.

    As to expectations: I don’t generally worry about things like that, except when I’m in a rotten stinking mood, and I feel like the whole world is asking me to do things. Then the idea of anybody anywhere hoping for anything from me becomes just one more damn thing to do.

    But I’m better now. 🙂

  4. Whoops, cross-posted with you, Jonathan. It was great seeing the 2000 folks again; I’m only sorry that my general bad attitude and big pile of work kept me from spending more time with you guys. It is indeed sad that anybody can feel this stressed out here; I think I need to find my way to a more SoCal attitude. Deep breath. Absorb the sun. Smile and say “whatever.”

  5. I don’t think anyone perceived a bad-attitude — and 2 days to catch up with 150 students, half as many faculty, and what really isn’t that small of a campus after five years isn’t really a lot of time. I wish it were another day or two longer.

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