Simone has my laptop…

Simone has my laptop today, because she's taking the car in to be serviced, which they said could take a couple of hours. So I asked her to go through my mail while she's waiting and figure out what can/should be dealt with right away. It feels a little weird having someone else go through my mail, but none of it is particularly personal (she's just going through the main public Inbox, not the private address) or confidential. I really have a tough time staying on top of my e-mail -- last week I sat down and purged it down to 70 messages or so, but now it's right back up at 100. Sigh.

Anyway, so I took the Macbook Air into work, which means no e-mail access for me, because I never did get the MobileMe thing to work properly (I ended up cancelling before the end of the free trial). Just web, which is just as well, since I have plenty to do offline in any case. It's a little frustrating that airport access in my office is intermittent -- wasn't working this morning, so I'm sitting in the department lounge instead. Which is too hot; in fact, the whole building is too hot, even though I've stripped down to a light shell top. If UIC continues like this all winter, I'm going to have to do some serious layering for work, unless I want to be sweating like a pig while I teach. Normally, I'd be pleased at an excuse to do some clothes shopping, especially since I'm still slowly losing baby weight (lost another 1.5 pounds since Sharmi's wedding, which is particularly nice since I'm still not actively dieting) but not with our current budget.

Today, Cris Mazza, the director of the UIC writing program comes to observe my teaching. This is entirely my own fault, since I asked the chair of English what the procedures were for review in my unusual position -- I'm the first they've had with this job, I think, so he had to go look them up. If I hadn't asked, I might have gotten through three years without anyone watching me teach (aside from student evaluations, which are apparently barely useful for actually evaluating teaching) -- of course, the downside would be that when my contract came up for review and possible renewal, no one would know anything about my teaching. Plus, you know, the other value to having your teaching observed is that sometimes they have good critique for you, so that you can become a better teacher. So it should be a win all around, which doesn't mean I'm not nervous about it.

I changed clothes three times this morning, not that I think Cris will care what I'm wearing. I also wasn't sure if I should change my lesson plan for the day -- all we're doing is workshopping, so in fact, I'll only be talking for about ten minutes of class, probably. Some days we have writing exercises, or literary analysis of a published story, but not today. I could have changed the schedule around, but that doesn't seem so fair to my students. Maybe we'll finish the crit quickly, and we can do a little craft exercise or business discussion at the end. We'll see how it goes; I don't want to stint today's student on his crit either, so I'm not going to rush it.

One more plus to this is that I finally went to the library and looked up some of Cris's work -- I picked up a book of short stories, Is It Sexual Harassment Yet? and a short novel, Disability and I'm relieved and pleased to find that I like her writing a lot. It's smart and edgy and subtle and sharp. It's always good when you have a boss whose work you can respect, and I think based on her work that she's probably someone I can learn a lot from. She's also been teaching at UIC for many years, so I can probably learn a lot on that front too. Excellent. Interestingly, she and her co-editor apparently coined the term 'chick-lit', for an anthology of post-feminist fiction they edited, although they were using it in an ironic way, and are probably horrified by what the term has become. Ah well.

Now I just hope she likes my teaching. And me. Or as much of me as she can get a sense of in a fifty-minute class.

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