Are you still there, human?

For 72 hours and 37 minutes, I have vowed to grade papers at this exact moment: Clara’s nap time on the Monday before class resumes.

Yet, here I am, with nothing to say, but I can’t stop eating Cheez It snack mix and reading about actors I know nothing about on last night’s Oscar coverage (who is James Franco?), and I was thinking maybe a little metacognitive reflection on the thing I hate most in my life would help. It was either that or practice my headstand, but reversing the flow of circulation doesn’t mix well with cheesy wafers and seasoned pretzels.

Fact #1: My students can write and have interesting things to say, like “I read the warning in the Signs: as a Cancer, he would never leave his wife” and “I must have been about twelve when my dad bought me my first bra. He just gave it to me inside a paper bag and told me to try it on. I did, and to make things even more weird, he would run his hand down my back every now and then to check if I was wearing it. As a pre-teen, I wanted to die.”

Fact #2: I have a variety of colored pens,  including chartreuse, at my disposal for commenting.

Fact #3:  We rearranged the cabin so it looks like it has actual rooms and makes me want to do edifying things, like my job.

So, why not?

The problem is, it’s come to this: “This sentence is a bit oddly constructed” and “The topic sentence could give a slightly clearer explanation for where you are headed in this paragraph” and “You’ve got a knack for including convincing and vivid details that support your thesis.”

I sound like an English teacher robot whose circuit board includes the “tactful disclaimer word” key (ever so slightly; perhaps if you could; maybe just a little; how about you), the “composition jargon” key (topic sentence, thesis statement, transitional word), and the “obscure grammatical term” key (fragment, misplaced modifier, adjunct, subordinating conjunction).  And, so, I go looking for any signs of human experience in the Cheez It box or in Colin Firth’s really humble and eloquent Best Actor acceptance speech. Or, in hearing myself talk on my blog.

A good confession does wonders for one’s motivation and I’m feeling a little better. Maybe if I sit on the couch instead of the floor, I’ll have a better time with my new pens. The dogs are barking in what may or may not be interpreted as an attempt to wake their favorite playmate up from her nap, so it’s back to work. Which is about as human an experience as it gets.


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