Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Busy weekend! Got in the Samsonville garden on Saturday. Now working on the one in Castleton; should be done tomorrow. No complaints from students about Spring grades! This really was a good year. Summer session class starts today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

I finished with grades at 7 pm last night! Since I made several changes this semester, it was a lot easier. I did have to work 10 or 12 hour days, but there were no late nights and this past weekend, I only put in a few hours each day. They become available to students at 12 noon today. Hope I don't get a lot of complaining emails. The last thing I have to do is email feedback and the breakdown of their grades to all students, but that will keep for a few days.

My summer session class starts 5/29. It became accessible to students yesterday, and I had it ready last week. So now it's on to other endeavors. Cleaning inside a bit for one, but more importantly: Gardening!! I'm psyched!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

I came across this post and remembered that recently I was thinking of my driving (or rather, non-driving) again. I did a search of the Gully Brook Press archives to see if I'd written about this subject, and all I came up with was this quote from February 2003: "Certainly there are way too many angry drivers on the road; this became more apparent in my quest to get a license. So I gave up. I think I’m just not mad enough to drive." That sort of sums it up.

I've taken the written test to get my learner's permit three times in my life. Every time I got a perfect score on it. I am a walking manual of driving laws. The first time I got my learner's permit was when I was 16. I wasn't all that interested in driving, but learning to drive is expected at that age. I practiced a few times in an old Jeep my parents had, and later in an old car that my father bought. I never got up to the point of going very far from the house, mostly I drove around in the church parking lot next door to where we lived. The situation was complicated because a friend of mine lived with us and my parents didn't really feel like teaching her, so she would have resented them doing it for me. Then, shortly before I turned 17, I went off to college and abandoned driving. I think permits were only good for one year at that time.

I took the written test again several years later, but never bothered to practice driving at all and it expired. My final attempt came seven years ago. I was graduating with my PhD, figured I needed a new goal, and decided that I wanted to try to get my license before I turned 40 in 2001. I've received a lot of pressure over the years on this subject. People think you are crazy if you don't drive. They can't comprehend how you can function in modern society without a license. It always embarrassed me. So once again, I took the written test, but this time I made a serious effort to learn. I practiced all the time, and even took one lesson to sharpen my parallel parking skills. The end result: I failed the road test. Four times. Once in Kingston, twice in Troy and once in Delhi. Three times in a car, and once in a truck. Every time it was for a different reason. Twice were automatic failures, twice because of too many points.

Although no one at New York State motor vehicles will vouch for this, I am actually a competent driver and should have had no problem passing the test. But here's the thing: I hate driving. I have never felt comfortable in a car, whether as a driver or as a passenger, even when I have complete confidence in the driver. One thing my last attempt taught me was that I am not concerned about my own skills. Before that, I was always afraid I couldn't control the car in an emergency, was certain I'd hit deer and other critters and I couldn't cope with that. But I discovered that isn't a problem at all, my observational and reaction skills are fine. Other people, all those people who have had no problem sailing though the road test hurdle, just scare the crap out of me.

Unfortunately, the awareness of how truly dangerous driving can be only increases with age. It's a crime really, what a bloodbath our highways are and no one bats an eye. We advocate about diseases and protest war but act like getting killed in a motor vehicle accident is not the much greater threat. It's just a fact of life. It is a much better idea to get a license when you are young and naive. Even with a ton of practice, I had to psych myself up every time I got behind the wheel and practically wanted to kiss the ground when I arrived at my destination. Driving never felt natural to me. I think this is the real reason I failed four times at my age. My demeanor makes my feelings obvious on the road test. It isn't simple nervousness, because in truth, I was not that nervous when taking the test. I just know I could never pass it.

My learner's permit was good for five years this time, and it expired in 2005. This time, I made peace with it. Decided that driving is just not for me. What I thought in the past - that if I practiced enough I'd get comfortable - isn't true. It would take years not behind the wheel but on the couch to get the courage to pass the road test, and I don't care to invest the energy. And that's OK. I don't get nearly as much pressure as in the past; everyone knows I tried hard and it isn't in the cards. While I was searching for old posts, I came across this one. Could that be the seed for my driving phobia?
The Spring 2007 semester comes to a close! Yesterday was the last day of classes. I had a funny experience in the cafeteria. The cashier said to me "you certainly look happy." I responded, "yes, it's a beautiful day, and it's the last day of classes, and that's always a good thing." She replied, "are you graduating?" I laughed, and said, "no, not graduating. Actually, I'm a faculty member." So she said, "you're a professor? You look so young!" How flattered I was! It's been a long time since anyone has mistaken me for being that young, I have far too much grey hair. But maybe my casual dress yesterday (I held class outside) threw her off?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Last night we saw Five for Fighting and Chantal Kreviazuk at the Egg. Awesome concert, I basically agreed with this review.

Friday, May 04, 2007

While we were waiting for the locksmith to come today, a good samaritan called - he found Bob's briefcase! So even though it was an expensive episode (still had to pay for the service call and a stop payment order on the checks was already in), it restores our faith in humanity.
As the semester draws to a close (classes end Tuesday), I am looking back on the 2006-07 academic year with satisfaction. This has been the best year since I started teaching. I had wonderful classes, and seem finally to have learned how to intervene in a negative class and make it better. Two really good additions this semester were the book lesson plan and presentation assignment, and Just in Time Assessment. It has left me energized, even as I face the enormous, ridiculous, anxiety-producing workload of the end of the semester! This summer, I am converting my summer session class from a six week intensive to all summer, twelve weeks, almost just like the fall and spring sections. In the fall, I am changing some of the required books in all of my classes.
Yesterday Bob was at an all day meeting in Albany and during lunch he left his briefcase in the WWII memorial park next to the state museum. When he realized it and went back it was gone. He reported it to the Empire Plaza police, lost and found and museum front desk but so far no one has turned it in. It had less in it than when his briefcase was stolen out of our car last year, but one thing it had that wasn't in there last year was his key chain with the car and house keys. There was a checkbook in there too with our address so now we have to have the locks changed. And of course the briefcase is a loss again, I'd replaced the one he lost last year with a new one that was the same from LL Bean. Luckily I had a copy of the car key, so I took the bus downtown to meet him and we were able to get home.