I deserve a break!
My head is spinning from prep and beginning of term panic, so I'm taking a short break to do New Kid's Five Questions:
- What do you think are your greatest strengths and weaknesses as a teacher?
Strengths: Hmmmm. Probably my patience and accessability. They come in really useful for a person who teaches mostly lower-division classes. I think I'm also very good at adapting to a class's needs and still making sure that the students are getting the course they are supposed to be getting. I've also become very good at teaching on the fly -- the result of having new preps thrown at me at the last minute, but I don't like that.
Weaknesses: I sometimes lose sight of where I want the class to go and can forget to work from desired outcomes backward. Part of this is the focus I place on teaching how historians know what they know over what we know. Each term I resolve to work harder on finding that balance between narrative and source work. But it is a struggle, and I have to remind myself that students often need more structure -- funny for someone who really needs structure herself! I sometimes wing classes. The students never notice (in fact, they often think my off-the-cuff lectures are the ones I know best), but I know. Must. Tie. Things. Together. Better.
- How/when did you get your kitties?
Boy Kitty, aka Mama's Boy, aka about a million nicknames,
I got when I walked into a pet superstore and a rescue person was there with the ginormous Snowshoe person. We'd been looking for a friend for senior cat, and I've alsways loved snowshoes because they have all the best parts of Siamese cats but are much heartier. I nagged the woman daily about taking him till she gave up on some of the restrictions (like proof I'd paid a cat deposit to my apartment complex!).
I got when Boy Kitty went walkabout. He was gone for 16 days, and X was convinced by the Animal Control people that the coyotes had eaten him. I'd spent a frightening amount of money on color flyers (in plastic covers) and posted them on every mailbox stand (I lived in an area where mailboxes are all together, one stand every 6 or so houses) and every telephone pole at a major intersection for about a 2 mile radius, and wasn't reasy to give up, so I said I was only ready to get a replacement if it were a Siamese. X said it had to be a girl. They had two girl Siamese-y cats at the pound and were running a 2-for-the-price-of-1 special. We brought other girl home, left Girl Kitty to be spayed, and about an hour after we got home, we got a call that Boy Kitty was in a yard about 7 blocks away.
After several hours of trying to trap super-freaked-out Boy, I went to work (waitressing -- I hadn't yet returned to teaching) and through a cunning plan (not the Baldric kind that X and Finder Guy came up with, which involved lures and cages), Finder Guy's wife suggested leaving their porch door open with some food inside. An hour later, Boy Kitty was home and we had 4 cats.
- What are you most proud of accomplishing so far?
Sometimes, it's just having survived without totally giving up. I think my perspective must be a bit warped, because although I came from a family where almost no-one goes to college, and people frequently drop out of school, it's never occurred to me to be all that proud of having a BA, let alone the PhD. I look at myself and just can't accept that I'm not super-average in my accomplishments, perhaps because I know so many people who have done so much more. And when I do things that I feel I can be proud of, they usually involve standing up for myself and making a defined break in my life that is so scary it's impossible to feel proud. BUT, I do feel really proud when past students tell me they owe part of their success at new institutions to me. And I feel proud and honored to be treated as an equal by friends and colleagues I admire. And OH! I feel proud at having made TEN short lists last year! (Are y'all laughing?)
- How would you describe your relationship with your family?
Depends on the family member. My sisters and I are close, especially my middle sister, but it's in a pretty dysfunctional, shared-jokes-about-our-crazy-mom kind of way. My parents and I love each other, but don't communicate much. There's a lot of baggage in the way, I think, plus my mom tends to unplug her phone for weeks, so she's unavailable even when she's talking to me. My dad and his wife are generally too busy to talk -- especially to a liberal academic who has no clue about the real world. I'm very tight with my uncles and my cousins, although we don't talk as much as I'd like. Oddly, I'm the one who tends to do the calling/writing, and if I go to my hometown to visit, I'm in great demand, which is really nice. For a very communicative, touchy-feely family, we're not good at distance. If I lived near any of my family, we'd probably hang out a lot.
- What's your favorite outfit - the one you feel comfortable and attractive in all at once?
At the moment, it's this great BCBG/Max Azria surplice front tank top (black) and any slimming skirt and a great pair of black high-heeled sandals. The only thing that could be better would be to find a skirt that I can wear with my new KMDAFM t-strap heels, which aren't that comfortable, but make me feel attractive in a Cyd Charisse (in my dreams) way. The top is some kind of jersey that is clingy, but doesn't look cheap. And I love heels, but seldom wear them.
- What are you most proud of accomplishing so far?