I just woke up from a…

I just woke up from a nightmare. Somehow, I'm a teaching assistant again, and Tom Strychaz (who was my prof. at Mills) is teaching a class at Utah and I'm TA'ing it. And one of the books he's using is this book on legal matters, and we're only reading about five pages early in the book. But I page through the book, and near the end is a section on internet decency/legality stuff, and not only do they focus on my pages, but they have full-page, full-color photospreads of me doing all sorts of lewd things -- Hustler-type spreads (and no, such things do not exist). And then followed a long series of conversations where I nerved myself up over and over to talk to various faculty (and their wives, oddly enough) about whether or not they should fire me and/or drop the book from the course. I woke up shaking.

I know exactly where that poisonous bit of angst came from. Yesterday Michael (the guy who hired me) called me into his office. His secretary had just received a little note, addressed to her, telling her that for their information, Mary Anne Mohanraj maintained a pornographic home page, and ran a pornographic web site (CS), and was this really the kind of person they wanted teaching at the university? Signed, Concerned.

Perhaps the most infuriating part of this is that I'm not on the U payroll or web pages, so it couldn't have been a matter of a student or parent looking up their teacher's name and stumbling on my pages. Instead, someone who was already reading this journal (it must have been sent before I updated my bio the other day, so it has to be a journal-reader) took it on themselves to try to protect the children (my students will, of course, be about 18). Which strikes me as damn hypocritical; you searched these pages out for your own pleasure, right, Ms. Concerned? No one shoved pornography down your throat. But you're so scared that some little college student might come across this sort of thing... Well. I guess I shouldn't expect anything less than hypocrisy, given that you were too cowardly to sign your own name.

The funniest thing is that they aren't even from Utah; the letter was from Illinois. So there's a decent chance that this is someone who's been reading my journal for a while, not just since I moved out here, which means it's someone who knows me, at least a little. I think that's what really gets to me.

I know I shouldn't let this bother me. Michael has assured me that the department will back me up, should further nastiness materialize. My extracurricular activities are my own business, as far as they're concerned. That was made clear when they hired me; my publications and web site are listed on my CV, so of course they knew what kind of person they'd hired.

I'm just pissed off. I'm expecting this to be a very busy and probably stressful semester; I don't need added nonsense.

Okay, rant over. In other news, Shmuel was apparently in a car accident. He was somewhat seriously injured, lost a lot of blood, etc, but his condition is stable now. His mother is still in some danger, but the prognosis is tentatively good. His grandfather died. I'll let you know more as I do, but messages of support can be sent to signs@escape.com. He asks for people to pray for them.

Not a good week, eh? My poor students have been sending me frantic e-mails about extensions. Grades are due Friday, so I've given some of them until tonight. I still suspect a few of them won't get their final papers done in time, and I'll have to flunk them. Not fun. We'll see what happens.

I have orientation from 9-4 today; after orientation I'll go pick up the papers that have been turned in on campus. Tonight will be grading night.

Orientation yesterday went well, aside from the nasty letter incident. My colleagues are mostly graduate students either doing MFA's or PhD's in English or Writing. I hadn't realized that U of U offered one of the few PhD's in Writing; I may have to look into it. I've been considering going back for the doctorate, though what I really want to do is an interdisciplinary program that combines writing, lit, and sociology -- studying immigrant society in America and culture clash. Not sure what school will let me do that, or where would be the best place. Something to research.

Today we start looking more closely at the texts we'll be using, and discuss writing pedagogical theory. You may remember how excited I got about this stuff back when I was taking Deborah Lichtman's class; I'm looking forward to the discussion today. I just have to remember to try to keep a rein on my tongue -- if I'm not careful, I'm one of those people who talk too much and dominate class discussion. I've been careful about that for years, ever since I realized it was a problem, but it's still not natural to me; my instinct is to jump in and say something if I have something to say. "Always remember that there is one student in your class far superior to you in head and heart." That's probably not an exact quote and I forget who said it, but it's good advice nonetheless.

Last night Prakash and Holly and Beverly came by and moved almost the last of my stuff, including my plants. The rest can fit into two backpack trips, I think. It was truly amazing how much stuff I had at Kevin's. It hadn't been evident. After moving, I fed them dinner. Rice and chicken curry and green beans and mushroom curry with some coconut sambol, mango lassi to drink and chai tea latte frozen smoothie (a new, truly excellent, B&J flavor) and raspberry sorbet for dessert. Now I have lots of leftovers. Holly and Beverly left after dinner; Prakash and I watched The Maltese Falcon, which I fell asleep during (but don't worry -- I've seen it many times before).

I still feel rather drained from not sleeping well. I'm going to go make some tea and see if Roshani's up. Remember, think good thoughts for Shmuel. I'll talk to y'all later.

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