TeachingIn the Middle of the Mess

In the Middle of the Mess

I was disturbed to hear from Carol yesterday that she had found out that her mother’s corpse is still in refrigeration and not yet cremated. She got the paper work off in time I think but then the fires down there intervened and somehow the cremation place did not get all the information they needed for the death certificate.


I don’t know what the big deal is with that damn death certificate.  But they can’t get rid of a body legally I guess until it is somehow fully confirmed that the body belongs to the person people say it belongs to.  So as of yesterday Carol’s mom’s corpse had been hanging out in the refrigeration unit for two weeks.

Can that be? That Carol’s mom died two weeks ago.  It feels longer ago than that what with the leak in the roof, the dehumidifiers, five days in a motel to get away from the dehumidifiers, people coming and going with dehumidifiers and hanging new dry wall where holes were cut in the walls, and finishing the dry wall, and now it seems the whole chore will not be completed, as I may have previously said, until this coming Friday.  So more people will be coming and going all next week.


The big chore will be the carpet cleaning people.  I need to get as much stuff off the floor as possible so they can get to as much carpet as possible.

And since last Monday, in the middle of all this mess, I have been trying to respond to fifty student papers.  I say “respond” since I don’t like to say “grade.”  But actually I am grading, and my response gets all warped by the need to grade.  In fact, my response becomes mostly a justification for the grade.  I mean true I am also trying to explain how the student might improve his or her writing, but even that explanation feels more like a justification of the grade than anything else.


Sometime I really wish I were teaching math.  Then I would not have to write any justification.  I could just add up the number right or wrong; and that number would justify the grade.  Some teachers do try to run a numbers thing; like 20% for organization; and 20% for unity; and 20% for sentence formation; and 20% for something else.  So that it all adds up to a 100%; and then they can add up all the percentages and come out with say, 85%, a solid B and hope the student will not complain because they are used to numbers with grades and know that 85% is a solid B.

But I have never been able to do that because I am no good at numbers and also because giving 20% for organization, for example, means that I have to be able to define what organization is and how that might be different from “unity” and both different from “sentence formation.”  And frankly I can’t do that.  I guess I am too philosophical or something.  But I really don’t know what organization is or how to distinguish good organization in a student paper, from what the students have been taught is good organization: an introduction, followed by three points, followed by conclusion.  The five paragraph essay. 

I don’t know but grading student papers is a lot harder than a person might think it would be. It’s tough work and always wears me out.  But thank god, I am almost done with this “batch.”


A couple of days ago the sea and sky looked really strange from the dust in the air and possibly also dust on the ocean.  While these are actually pictures–or representations of real things–the sea and the sky–they strike me as looking quite a bit like abstract art I have seen over the years.  I think maybe I will monkey around with these pics to see if I can produce a piece of abstract art to hang on my wall.  Maybe I could take images over to Kinkos and see how large an image they could produce…maybe… 

 Video clip test

Categories: Teaching


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