Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Storm Before the Calm Before the Storm

The fall semester begins on Monday. The powers that be only just today informed the graduate students in my department what their TA assignments for the semester would be. That means there is now some last-minute scrambling to be done, figuring out office hours and making final decisions about what classes to take and what not to take. Sometimes it’s just easier to work around your TA schedule, and sometimes that can be a tiebreaker when you’re deciding whether to take a Monday night class or a Tuesday night class. If you’re going to be TA’ing on Tuesdays anyway, you might as well stick around and take the Tuesday class. It reduces the amount of time spent commuting to campus, and that can be a big deal.

So, how is my semester shaping up? I’m almost too mentally exhausted to bother explaining, but I’ll give you the basics. After much turmoil and stewing about, I’ve decided I’ll take one class for credit. (I kind of have to, but that’s too long a story in and of itself.) It’s a class on dispositions, so it falls into metaphysics. Metaphysics is typically a rather grueling field, so I fully expect this class to be a challenge. You may wonder why I’m taking it, given that dispositions don’t immediately—or at least don’t obviously—align with my area of specialization, which is free will. Well, quite simply, I’m curious about it, and I do hope to leave school with metaphysics being an area of strength for me, even if it’s not my primary area of focus. (And really, free will is a subcategory of metaphysics, but being an expert on free will doesn’t make you an expert on metaphysics, broadly speaking.) What’s more, the class is on Tuesday afternoons, which is convenient because my TA assignment is on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I can lump some office hours in between my Tuesday morning TA class and my Tuesday afternoon dispositions class, and I’ll be good. Other than that, I just need to prepare for my special area exam, which I hope to take within the next six or seven weeks. That means, aside from a long day on Tuesdays, I’ll be at school for a couple of hours on Thursday mornings, and that’s it. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I’ll be able to stay home. Very nice. Very nice indeed.

Now for the not-so-nice. I will be TA’ing for the same course and instructor for which I TA’d last spring and last fall. In other words, if you don’t count summer, this will be the third time in a row that I’ve TA’d for the very same class. Looking on the bright side, I’m very familiar with the class and it should be easier going for me. That’s what I’ve been happily telling myself, anyway. But, wouldn’t you know it, the instructor for that class has since contacted me and given me the syllabus for the fall semester, and she’s changed things up a bit. There will be several new readings, and that means I’ll have to be paying a lot closer attention to the class (and to the readings) than I did in the spring. That’s a bummer, because I was really hoping to devote as much mental energy as possible to preparing for my special area exam. I don’t think this will be the easiest TA gig for that. The first semester I TA’d for this class, it was very demanding. Throwing in new material this semester will make it more demanding again. Crap. The instructor’s even got Kant on the syllabus, for crappity crap’s sake. Wish me luck!

I almost had another bright side to turn to, but it’s since been snuffed out. This was the class that formerly was located just a hop, skip, and a jump from my department office. I could get to it from my office in less than 30 seconds, literally. I just assumed it would be located there again. But nope. It’s on the other side of campus. Which means I’ll have to be walking quite a bit in this lovely humid Florida August weather. By the way, Florida has August weather for September and most of October, too, so that’s truly something to cry about.

Alas, I’ve had it good. This semester will put the pressure on, which I guess is highly disappointing to me only because I thought it was looking peachy keen for a brief moment. It’s still more manageable than I’m probably making it sound, but I’m in the grieving period right now, learning that my assumptions were really making an ass out of “u” and “mptions.” I'll get over it … by January, I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. I am shaking and trembling just reading about this! What will your special area exam be like? Is it a written thing or oral? Yikes! At least your schedule, as far as time and days, sounds not too frantic. I hope!
    I love and admire you so much. You are doing great things and you are so smart. It really is cool. Good luck with it all! I pray for you.