I know... I haven't written since last Wednesday, you didn't even know he was sick, what fever am I talking about? Well, at the end of last week he came down with some illness and a high fever -- it got up to 102.4 at the worst bits, and I think I've been in a subdued panic ever since, though I didn't know it. He never gets sick. I have been getting medicines and buying juice and keeping him company while he lies on the couch looking pathetic. I have been stroking his fevered brow, which actually seemed to help a little. I abandoned him a few times for the end of the semester Christmas parties, but at his request took along his cell phone in case the fever crept up past 103 (the point at which my dad, a doctor, told me we should take him to the hospital). I have been very competent and capable and for the last few days have been sleeping really long hours myself because I think I have subconsciously worried myself into exhaustion (though all the long walks to the grocery store might have contributed). I hope he never gets seriously ill. I hope I never do. I hope nobody I care about ever does but that seems a little implausible. I was watching something last night and some irresponsible person on the news or something told me that 1 out of 3 Americans will suffer some form of heart disease before they die -- did I need to hear that? I don't think so.
And why is it that all these people I love refuse to go see doctors unless they are seriously bludgeoned into it? But that's a separate rant.
Classes are over. I should have been grading this weekend, but I have not started it yet. I think that's okay; I have all of today, Tuesday and Wednesday, and I just promised them end notes and grades, not line notes. I told them they could come see me next semester if they wanted line notes. So the papers shouldn't take that long, and since some students did presentations and some dropped out and some just didn't hand in final papers, I don't have that many of them. No more than 70 total, and I think closer to 60. So if I do 25 a day, which I think will just be a full work day, that'll be fine. Of course, if I'd started Saturday, I'd be in better shape. People keep telling me the grading won't go away if I avoid it 'til the last minute, and that seems obvious as I'm grading the last of a batch of papers, but somehow at the beginning it seems very logical to put it off as long as possible.
I hope Kevin doesn't make himself sicker today. He has office hours scheduled all day with his students, so he can't stay in bed anymore.
My students won't see me 'til Wednesday night. Susan is having hers over to my place then for a party (my place is bigger than hers) and I told my students they could come by then to pick up their papers. I felt very odd reading Karen's sweet comments about my party hosting abilities; I've just been feeling overwhelmed because I'd sort of planned two small parties for the end of the semester (one for the students, one for friends), and I wasn't sure I wanted to deal with it. But I think that was just leftover-taking-care-of-Kevin-exhaustion because I'm feeling better about it now. Susan's doing most of the work for the student one in any case -- I'll just cook a little food on Wednesday, which will probably be a nice break from my grading. The one for friends is where I plan to go all out on food; I want to do a proper British Christmas tea, with tea sandwiches and plum pudding and trifle; ideally I'd like to get Christmas crackers for all the guests, but I don't think I can afford it. Maybe next year. But perhaps I can persuade them to play charades and sing a few carols. It's unfortunate that Paul and Marcia will be out of town by the weekend, as I was rather relying on Paul to play guitar for carolling. Perhaps Susan will...
Okay. Plan for today: Grade, drink tea, grade, send out some AE letters (and for you poor people waiting, we really will try to let you know by next Monday), grade, go get some more icicle lights for the sunroom and plain white lights for the tree (Marcia drove me to get a tree last night! A beautiful Noble pine which fits perfectly in the corner of my living room) and silver tinsel to go with the deep blue and silver glass balls (I've always had a multi-colored tree, but I thought this year I'd try a more restrained approach -- if I don't like it, I can always add more colors) (I really need more ornaments; I'd like silver ones, but I guess I'll just accumulate them over the years -- the glass globes will have to do for now), grade, update my tracking sheet for AE, grade, go home and if I'm not utterly exhausted think about revising "Seven Cups" which I really ought to do one of these days...
3:00 p.m. Well, I did at least start the grading. It goes very quickly when I'm only writing end notes -- except that my hand cramps up and I need to take breaks every two papers or so. I can type over a hundred words a minute but I can't write more than a paragraph by hand, which is just pathetic.
This also means I can only do one Christmas card at a time, which is also pretty sad, although it has the side benefit that I think a little more about the cards/people as I do them. Last year I did them last minute and really just signed my name which is totally inadequate -- you might as well not bother, really, if you can't manage to write a single sentece actually addressed to the person. Even if it's just "Thinking of you...", which of course is self-evident, except it's not if you're just working your way through a long list. *grin* Susan and I were shopping for cards for her, and she suddenly turned to me and said something about how she had just figured out the downside of my knowing so many people -- yes, I do have a lot of cards to send. :-) And that's why I'm not going to do what Karen and Shmuel and so many are doing, offering to send cards to any of you who write in... it would also just feel weird, since I imagine many of you are lurkers who have never written a word to me, so why would I send you a Christmas card? But for those with whom I *have* corresponded at least a few times, I would love to send you a little correspondence on actual paper, so please do give me your snail mail address.
I never did make it to the grocery store -- there was a huge hail storm not long after I wrote this morning's entry, which then turned to snow. Very impressive, and giving me absolutely no motivation for going outdoors. I may not even walk home -- if I can harden my heart enough to make him do it, I may ask Kevin to drive me home when he gets back here.
I have been trying to get through my e-mail backlog, especially on AE stuff, and it's proceeding okay, though I'm still avoiding some of the more complicated letters I need to send (the "we're interested in your story but we're not committing to buying it and will you do some revisions now in case we want to buy it because we're getting really nervous about meeting our deadlines" letters). Ick. Grading seems easy by comparison.
I did take half an hour out to reread 81 Charing Cross Road, which is an utterly delightful book which I like to reread around Christmas time (it's a great present for any book-lover on your list).
I should get back to work, but before I go, let me note that I'll be in Chicago from December 24-31, and in the Bay Area from December 31-January 5. If you want to see me, let me know soon, as the dates are filling up. I'll be going to Jed's New Year's party on the 31st, which should be fun. I can't believe I actually booked tickets to fly on the 24th and the 31st. Am I crazy? At least I won't be in the air on the 1st...