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Busy busy week!

- Sunday: last minute went with a friend to the Anza-Borrego Desert to check out the superbloom there. I had suggested leaving at 6, getting there at 8, returning at 10, before the highway traffic set in. But it's too early for him, so we moved it back 2 hours. What happened was we left at 8, got there at 10.30, got back on the road around 12.30, and got home around 4 or so. There was a LONG time spent on a SINGLE road that was jammed up.

- Monday spent working on a cover letter. YL is having a difficult time so been doing a lot of emotional labour there.

- Tuesday I led a couple of events for the Grad Day of Action. Turns out "Courtyard outside the Physics Hall" gets read as "meet in the Physics Hall" *rolls eyes* So only one person showed up for the lunch in the courtyard, and another one for the hike into the Gardens. But the Gardens are beautiful right now, so I can't complain. Hung out the rest of the time with other grads in the Grad Lounge.

- Wednesday, had a very brief SSFAC meeting! And then did the SFRG, and went out to dinner with Lindsay and Eun-Joo. My Clarion classmate, Alan, got in around 10pm :D

- Thursday, Alan visited! We wandered the campus first thing in the morning, then I left him in the Creative Writing department. He came by mid-afternoon, so we went to the Eaton Collection to check out some stuff, like an artbook of Flatland, the original edition of Ted Chiang's STORIES OF YOUR LIFE, the original hardcover of Ellen Kushner's SWORDSPOINT.

We had dinner at Tio's, and at night, I found I had to walk back to campus so I could get the file for the final exam I'm giving students.

Right now, I'm staring at a giant pile of final essays to grade, feeling super thankful I made them go through a gamut of three workshops (much of this pile = previous drafts that I made them attach). They're feeling pretty good about this final essay, confident about the final exam, and I'm going to miss a bunch of them.

Losses of teaching this class:
- Sank in a LOT of energy talking to students that took away from writing my dissertation
- Felt woefully under-prepped most of the time to teach some of the more theoretical texts, like there were problems I feel I should have anticipated #impostersyndrome
- Still can't save some students. A student emailed me at 1am, 6 hours before the essay was due, being apologetic for not coming to workshop and asking to hand in his essay on Saturday. SATURRDAY? I assigned this essay A MONTH AGO to give you ample time to prep, PLUS had three workshops for each stage of writing! Maybe if you weren't gallivanting off to LA two hours away half the quarter you'd be doing better work. I understand some folks gotta hustle, but come on.
- I thought I was a morning person, but apparently teaching at 7am is way too morning for me.

Wins in teaching this class:
- Watching the Engineering students glow as they talked about going through Special Collection archives and handling papers directly about the founding of their college
- Freshman student going from strength to strength with each essay, and being able to teach her directly some database tricks
- One of my students may have scored an internship with a professor to help with linguistics research (his major) as a result of the final essay project.

Not bad for a class I was recommended for simply because I was out of a job.
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Students' Outline Workshop had a brief hitch in the beginning as the students couldn't remember which groups they were in (because for some reason checking on ilearn for their groups doesn't seem to occur to them) and one student moved from one side of the class to the other only to find that her group had moved to her side of the class. A couple of students who had been in business are changing their majors so they moved groups too.

I gave them a sheet with instructions (things like, take turns introducing yourselves, your topics and your arguments), opened by introducing to them what the concept of "active listening" means, and let them have at it. They could do the thing where they take turns talking about their outlines and their current problems with it, or exchange outlines (passing outlines one direction, so everyone gets a shot at looking at it). That way they're exchanging ideas and making suggestions as thoroughly as they can.

As usual, there's a range of finished outlines and unfinished outlines, so I had prepped some questions they could ask each other, depending on how done the outline is.

One group was the general social science group, and I think only two students had the same major, and they told me how interesting it was to listen to everyone else's major. There was a group of psych students, having spirited debate on their various topics. The engineering students were diligently passing their laptops and outlines to their right, and the bio group were split between people talking more (because they had unfinished outlines) versus people very quietly going over outlines. And there was a group of Humanities (English and Creative Writing) who were slightly awkward but visibly very earnestly discussing their majors.

For Wednesday I have them bringing in their past essays and reflecting on things they need to keep and improve for this essay, which will hopefully keep them informed on what to do for the paper (which they'll inevitably write on Thursday). On Friday they have to have a full first draft by then, and they'll be doing a workshop on essay structures next. I'll prep another worksheet for them to think through.

When I teach this class again, I'll have all these materials again and I think I'll definitely re-use them, because they seem to work out really well. I feel I can focus on my own work a lot better right now because of it.

Anyway I downloaded Nanaca Crash yesterday and there was no work done on my dissertation as a result. Whoops.
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Today I did manage to get up at 5.30am with Alarmy... it's am alarm app which forces you to do a thing in order for you to turn it off. Options include doing math problems. I chose an option where I would have to get up, turn on the light, stumble to my closet, and take a picture of my organizer. And since I'm there, aaaand that's where the underwear is, I might as well keep on going and get dressed.

I have not managed to stay awake despite this exercise, of course. This morning I got as far as washing up and getting dressed, doing some exercise (sets of 10, squats, push-ups from the knee, crunches, Russian crunches; it hurt), getting breakfast and morning drink, while checking the Internet, and afterwards, around 7am, I went back to bed and got up around 8.30. Well... baby steps, I guess. Tomorrow I'll see a friend for the first time in almost five years, so once I have done morning libations, I'll hie to the nearby Starbucks, do some reading, and refill my Pokemon bag, until he gets to Riverside. I also need to get books for the class I'm teaching this quarter?

Which brings me to the productive things I have done in the new year: I have drafted a syllabus that actually looks rather good (I think). It has some holes in it, because I don't actually know what the text I'm supposed to teach is. We're supposed to get a list of books and pick one, and the St. Martin's Guide to Writing, and we get to choose exercises from that book. The essays escalate from 2 - 3 pages to a 6 pager, although I wonder if the final project might be too much (I'm teaching them how to do an annotated bibliography, and I would like at least three items in the Works Cited page).

The class is Intermediate Composition. It is part of a remedial freshman series to equip students with the writing skills needed at university level. The first course, they're apparently still learning how to put sentences together into paragraphs. The third course is critical thinking. This leaves the second course as a bridge between the two, where the students move from personal writing to more public writing "for multicultural contexts" which is kind of a meaningless description. I do know they have to write at least four essays, so I'm teaching them, basically, how to write about media, and how to read and edit. And cite. You can never teach kids how to cite too early. I'm pondering a library visit, but... the class is at 7am. I'm pretty sure the library only opens at 8am.

(The class at 7am is because the Chancellor has decided to aggressively expand the university and up enrollment without considering whether we have the actual capacity for it. We don't. That's why there are now 7am classes. I have a MWF schedule, which I don't mind, but all at 7am. I am not sure why I volunteered to teach at heinous o'clock.)

I'm wondering if I need to email the professor who's supposed to oversee us... apparently we get very little supervision, but IDK.

Today, rather than faff over my syllabus, I decided to submit some stuff. I was originally only going to do one, but in the end I've sent out four submissions.

Sometime this week, while I have brainspace, I'm going to get Interfolio and my Vitae account into order.
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- Made headway on the last bit of the chapter! Feeling great about it; it's coming together, and my thoughts are clearer about how it works.

- I ran into a former student today, and she actually wished me a happy new year--good for you, Ada, one ang pao for you! And walked until we hit the rec center.

Then in the Step Express class, I met another former student, who recognized me. The class she took with me was like, in 2013, and it was Theda's class, so it took me a while to remember, but as soon as she said her first name, her surname clicked for me, and she was really surprised I remembered.

- Step was good; I always forget how hard it is on the feet, even with this particular instructor.

- I'd eaten half my homemade calzone, and went back to my office to work some more and eat the rest of the calzone. It was a good idea. I think the cheese sauce isn't the greatest for my stomach, though. I rather wish I bought cereal for breakfast now.
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I have a date for my prospectus defense! It is November 17th. Dr. ML and HBZ and SV talked very quickly and hammered out a date very fast.

I went with the GSA Council President and VPEA to meet with the new Vice-Provost of International Affairs, which was a very interesting conversation. We didn't get any commitments, but we did get a plan of action. There was an international student survey a while back, and it's time to re-visit that. I'd almost forgotten about it--I'll follow up on getting the data tomorrow and trying to figure out how to best refine further questions on issues of concern.

Raccoon eyes! Why do I have them! I've been going to bed at reasonable hours to wake up at 7am... I strongly suspect that even though the last time I did a sleep test they somehow drew the conclusion that I didn't have sleep apnea, I'm still developing some snoring problems. (Also, at that test, the nurse was like "yeah you slept the night through" and I was like uhm no, I distinctly recall waking up at least three times because your beds are hella uncomfortable.) I'm planning on seeing a doctor sometime soon about that, and about possibly getting a prescription for a CPAP machine. (Folks have suggested the nose strips to me; I've tried them, and they don't work. The issue is not with my nose, it's with my tongue falling into the back of my mouth when I sleep. Unfortunately, the simple solution of sleeping on my side doesn't work and I somehow always end up on my back.)

Right after the meeting with the Vice Provost, I went to see Nalo about subbing for her on Thursday. It's an intro to Fantasy creative writing class, and technically it's a lecture. She's got to go to LA for a panel, and she's already assigned some reading to them. I'll go over their reading on portal fantasy! Yay! I'm gonna get them to lay out elements of portal fantasies from the chapter they've been assigned, encourage them to consider how different movies do them, then spend the rest of the time writing and workshopping, and I'll work with them individually on their stuff. That should fill up three hours easily.

I got practically nothing done today except for a couple of ficlets for AnomalyCon... they're putting together a set of "AnomalyCards" which attendees have to trade to get the whole set. The invited authors write flash fic, which are illustrated by the invited artists. Sounds like fun! Also means I get to pull out the characters for the steampunk bomoh story I wrote, and I set them in the Belum-Temenggor forest.


May. 5th, 2015 10:37 pm
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- Dr. Shapiro passed away earlier this year, and as good hoarders go, had a library collection of SIX. THOUSAND. BOOKS. In English, French, German, Spanish, Italian. Half of them have already gone to private collections and libraries, but the other half is still looking for a home, so tonight I went over with a prof and another grad student to go through her books.


Of course, she had a wide array in her fields (French, so lots of French history, literature). But she also had a whole host of other things?? Like there was a whole box on religion, and a whole box of Greek classics, a half-shelf of cookbooks (which, in retrospect, I should have claimed, because I know so many people who cook). LOTS of feminist theory. Oddly a bunch of anthropology and sociology books. There's a novel set in Thailand?! Bunch of Dada books, bunch of film books, lots of art books. I have a beautiful copy of The Arcades Project by Walter Benjamin, harcover, English translation. She also had some Asian-American anthologies (like The Big Aiiieeeee! and if you want this one you can have it). I have four books in The Fontana Economic History of Europe which I'm going to read through for my dissertation.

I picked out three boxes of books and could only bring home one box because I was sharing a car. This haul includes:
- Out of Place by Edward Said
- Borderlands by Gloria Anzaldua
- A Question of Power by Bessie Head
- Beloved by Toni Morrison
- The Philosopher in the Kitchen by Brillat-Savarin (and once I'm done with this I'll pass it off to the prof who got me to the place, because she does French and food studies and was excited about it; I was surprised she'd never heard of it!)
- bunch of books on visual arts and theory
- something something postmodern feminism
- a collection of those photo slides? I don't remember what they're called anymore. One of those things you plugged into a projector.

Uhm. Look. There's a lot. Basically, if you want some free books, leave me a comment about generally which field you'd like books in and I'll look. Her friend is boxing up books and moving them out on Thursday night, and I plan on heading out on Friday, hopefully with someone who has a car, to pick through the rest of the books.

Currently I have a couple of books that I don't think I actually want and can part with:
- Angry Women (this one: http://www.amazon.com/Angry-Women-Andrea-Juno/dp/1890451053 I picked it out because there're interviews with bell hooks and Susie Bright)
- This is The Beat Generation, James Campbell (http://www.ucpress.edu/book.php?isbn=9780520230330)
- The Big Aiiieeeee, eds Frank Chin & others (http://www.amazon.com/The-Big-Aiiieeeee-Frank-Chin/dp/0452010764)

Pretty sure I have more in that other box. I'll post here when I get them back home.

- I was totally going to finish the pinafore this first half of the week and was stymied by the lack of a zipper! And of course this is after the Daffodil Dash so my coupons don't work anymore. I realized I really ought to get some supplies for WisCon too!

- Been working on the ppt review for the course I'm TA'ing. Finally hitting the bits on Greek theatre. Still trying to figure out whether I'm going to upload this or not--a huge part of me doesn't want to because I know some of the students are just going to crib off the words and not actually study. Another part of me thinks they'll probably piss themselves if they can't access the notes. I'll ask the prof tomorrow and see what she thinks, and show her what I've got so far too.
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- I went downtown to the Black History Month expo with [personal profile] crossedwires! It was fun, we had good food. Then we hung out, and in the later afternoon went to see Jupiter Ascending. It's so much better the second time around!

- My sinuses continue to be inflamed and so my Sunday and Monday were kind of annoying and miserable as a result.

- Today I got my students to read poetry out loud. I thought it was fun, hope they did. Later in the afternoon I braved the walk-ins. The doctor decided I had allergies, gave me a dose of Flonase and something else which is LIKE an anti-histamine but takes a different tack. He also gave me a couple bottles of Sinus Rinse. It's like a neti pot, but a bottle. I can microwave the bottle to warm up the water too!

I've just done it. It was kind of a weird experience but tbh I don't think my sinuses feel any better for it. I'll give it another go tomorrow evening too though, just to see if it gets better with time. I don't think I microwaved it long enough either.

- Spoke on the phone with [personal profile] dmp for a while today! So nice to chat with her. We don't do it enough.

- A Twitter buddy and I have been working on a Jupiter Ascending movie recap, and it's ready to go! We'll post it up tomorrow--she's got the first half and I got the second. It's long, VERY THOROUGH, and has much commentary from us.
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- Finished grading the exams today! All of them. They were painful. I haven't counted the grades yet but not sure if I should since there were a couple of questions which I'm not sure about. I might calculate them all anyway then hand it off to the prof for her to double-check if she wants.

- Starting my blouse today. Wow these are some big sleeves. I'll have to learn how to gather this time, oh dear. I've never made a blouse before so this should be interesting.

- Checked my worm bin today. Turns out just dumping a crapload of frozen stuff into the bin is not great--it went anaerobic and smelled really weird. I can't tell what the hell caused the smell... most of it seemed to come from the eggshells. There's some other stuff which I'm sure contributed to it, but I have no idea what. I removed pretty much everything that smelled remotely strange, and found a few dead worms as well, which makes me sad. Also one which I think would have developed protein poisoning (they get this weird "string of pearls" effect... because their bodies can't process the protein) and moved it to a safer side of the bin.

I'm not sure how much of it is just stuff that shouldn't have been in the bin in the first place, and how much of it is that there is kind of a profusion of stuff for it to breathe properly. I'll go poking around in a couple more days to find out.
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- First unit test today! Apparently many students did not know the word "vindication" which my professor thinks should be a university-level word. We also discussed grading parameters for the short answer questions. I still don't have a grading key for the rest of it.

- Skedaddled to a talk by a prospective spousal hire and I am excited by her potentially joining our department!! She's an Africanist, researching Igbo storytelling narratives surrounding the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. As far as I can tell this department has never had an Africanist, which is frustrating and ridiculous, and practically no Black people in faculty ranks, which is even more ridiculous. As a result we don't have any Black grads either. I'm hoping this will change.

- Started reading Matt Hill's FAN CULTURES and it begins with a critique of a moralistic dualist approach to studying fan cultures, namely, the "productive" fan versus the "consumer" fan, also "fan-community" vs. "fan-commodity". Hill is trying to trouble this, and also the idea of the "fan vs academic" and the terrible positions academic fans like to take in being a fan but trying to hang onto institutional authority. It has no discussion on how basic gender and race analysis might affect this (although there is a single mention that most of current theories are out there written by white dudes). IDK if I should continue reading this or if I should read the Consumer Culture Reader first.

- I also set out a buncha cue cards listing some things I'd like to talk about in my dissertation. I feel I'm missing out one more thing that I want to talk about, but I don't have a name for it. In order: Gears, Goggles, Corset/Vest, Tea, Mad Science, Adventure, Promenade. None of them touch very deeply on the Maker aspect which is the last thing I want to talk about but I don't have the right word to talk about it.

- I finished stitching my rank braids! Wow, that was really fun and I really want to get back into hand-stitching stuff now. I bought an embroidery hoop a while back so I'm thinking of getting into that. I doodle some stuff while listening to Night Vale:
* Feminist Killjoy (got some dark navy blue fabric and lime green threads for a pinafore, and was planning on stitching this on the front or back)
* some phoenixes
* random pretty flowers (which thus far is my favourite doodle; I haven't decided what colours yet, but I'm going to try some satin stitches)
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Wednesday I was so busy with a student that I was late for a meeting with Dr. L, which meant missing my time window to see Dr. B. Dr. L wanted to know why I haven't written my damned headnote yet. I don't know why. I haven't had the time. But it's got to be done and she gave me a headline: by the last day of finals.

I managed to keep it together and used the afternoon to work on my paper some more and run errands and stuff. I also went to the Ethnic Studies Open House and holy shit they party. I met a lot of their prospective students and hung out with the grads I already knew from my seminars. It was such a good time! I stayed and helped clean up. They have a fucking fridge! A big one! And they had so much food we had to play fridge tetris! Gah!

Yesterday I finished the linguistics diagnostic, handled a CPLT GSA meeting, attended an emergency GSA Council meeting, managed to not go out of my mind with boredom during the lecture review session, survived the seminar (which was great because for some reason we kept on saying "So this is going to be on my paper tomorrow but"), and had a brief rehearsal with a classmate who's doing a script for the mini-conference and wanted to workshop it with her readers a bit. I requested that we be on the same panel too! All three of us had very similar things going on. It's a great script: Alexis Sherman in a waffle house with Seymour, a character he wrote and Pauline, a girl who wants him to make her a star. (It is, now that I think about it, basically Alexie Sherman RPF.) I'm reading Seymour. He was in The Business of Fancy Dancing? We were hoping to have the DVD playing in the background while we read, and rainycafe.com "cafe" sound effects for the ambience of being in a diner XDDDD Went home and made my powerpoint presentation. Yay pretty pictures!

Today was the day! Recruitment day + mini conference. Ridic packed. I got to the conference room at 8am (which means waking up at 6.30am, haugh) and Maurisa tried her laptop and I made sure my USB stick worked. I really wish I'd asked her to test out her planned presentation tech as well.... I'm going to make sure all my co-panelists test out their tech beforehand if I can help it. She forgot the DVD player so she didn't get to test it. Anyway, the tech changeover was not as smooth as I hoped. This makes me want to get my own baby laptop with all necessary programs and such so this will never happen again. It never fails to amaze me how people just don't know how to use their own tools! Panel after panel of people failing to understand how their own machines work.

Of course it was also panel after panel of people reading their goddamn too-long papers. Academics are usually terrible presenters, I find. I would like to say it's because we're grads, but no, I've yawned and napped my way through several boring ass lectures as well.

My panel was, IMHO, the best: we started with a presentation on the Polynesian Panthers, and then my indigenous steampunk presentation. The script reading went off well, even though we didn't get the DVD to work. Most other groups did close readings of text and theory stuff, and we did creative stuff. I think we were certainly the most vibrant group!

Reading and prepping for the script made me realize something else as well--I don't treat things like lectures, presentations and conference talks like they're... well, talks, you know, where you share shiny ideas. I treat it as a performance. My process usually involves a LOT of timed rehearsing of my script, writing down everything ahead of time, even the anecdotes I want to share (even though I improvise in how I tell them), and making sure I'm talking in a way that keeps people engaged.... so a lot of humour, a lot of body language, a lot of colloquialisms. And... this morning the tech person was like "had a bad experience?" and I was like "yeah" and I HAVE! One time my USB stick didn't work but thank goodness I brought my whole laptop along which plugged in just fine. But usually I don't have bad experiences... because back when I was doing theatre I learned the value of tech rehearsals and since I treat talks as a performance I try to make sure as much as possible to have a "tech rehearsal" of some sort. It's just such a natural failsafe for me that... wow, I guess it isn't common sense.

But yeah, man, I guess timing one's own reading process is not a common thing because SO many people went over their 15 minutes. It drives me crazy, because it's just really rude. There were some people who were watching their clocks as they read and that drives me crazy too... to me it shows that the reader (and they're inevitably reading) doesn't know how to condense their paper enough to share it succinctly. They think EVERYTHING in their paper is necessary for understanding their core argument, and they're, well, wrong. Because at the end of it there's way too much to process, AND they're also reading this hella boring-ass academic language as well which doesn't work well auditorily.

Maybe I just don't get academic conferences.


I skedaddled right back to my department for the lunch with prospective grads and the grad-only meeting. It went OK. One of the prospective students opted to come with me back to the mini-conference and after that we had a brief campus tour. We were SO tired by then. I really just wanted to stay home and pass out, but instead headed home, got changed, and got a ride out to Dr. SD's house for what I think was really convivial party. I do think we could have done better than just Senate Faculty attending... either way, it was such a good time the faculty kept on exclaming how come we didn't do this more often.

I am here and ready to pass out and just needed to check my mail and ugghhhh students. COME ON. Fucking figure out this ish yourself for chrissakes, like, I already set aside two whole days and am planning to write my ass off this weekend so it won't interfere with the review sessions. Siiiiiiiiiiiiigh.
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SO I REALLY LOVE GRAMMAR? I took my first linguistics class on grammar in my second year of undergrad, so it seems appropriate that I'm TA'ing a linguistics course on grammar in my second PhD year. I only have to grade very easy homework assignments (and we'll get answer keys). The professor is originally German, my co-TA is Turkish, so we're all internationals... teaching English grammar! Hahahahaha.

The lecture hall is supposed to seat 150, and it's a nice little old-ish theatre room. The problem is that students who came earlier would seat themselves spread out, and put their bags on the seat next to them. So students coming in later for whatever reason would assume there was no room.

Now sometimes it's a matter of nobody wants to linger in the aisle too long looking for a place to sit because that's embarrassing. Also if the only seat is some eight people in? It's disruptive.

But I got really annoyed at seeing all those empty seats and I got up and started herding latecomers to empty seats and at several points I had to be like, "whose bag is that?" and they would be all apologetic and move their bag, so the latecomer could have the seat.

Some students were also sitting in the foyer outside the lecture hall and I went to ask them, "do you want to sit in? There are still empty seats." And the students were like "No, I'm good." Which afterwards I got kind of annoyed? The question was not "Are you OK with sitting out here" the question was "do you want to come in"... but then I am getting very annoyed at random things; last quarter it was students answering "I'm sorry" to the question "Why are you late?" That was not the question AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA (and I KNOW why they do it, it just still irritates me).

When I was in like first grade, many of us had very full bags (because we just brought ALL THE BOOKS to school every day even if we didn't need them, in case we forgot any) and we would put the bag behind us on the chair. One day the teacher said, "do you realize that your bags are taking up more than half your seat? Is your bag a person? Put it on the floor." (When we did that we also realized just how much we had sacrificed in seat space because we kept having our bags on the chair.) So today I get kind of annoyed when I see people put their bags on the next seat, KNOWING that it's a large class.

I know that personal space issues play a huge role and I'm sympathetic but it's still very aggravating! I just want to... want to DEFRAG the whole fucking student body in the seats. I know that some people have weird squick issues with their bags on the floor because the floor is dirty or something but most university floors here are not, idk, muddy and gross?? And I guess that it's easier to swipe one's bag up from the next seat than from the floor but... I don't care and it's more than an hour long lecture, might as well get comfy?

Anyway, I guess I will try to preempt this problem on Thursday by getting there earlier and defragging and establishing very quickly that unless you ABSOLUTELY have to run out after class you ought to move in and no bags should take up space unless there's like a baby in there. My TA evals are going to be rotten!

On the bright side, a couple of former students are also in this class, and I had a lovely time catching up with one of them. She's starting to learn how to sew, which is cool.

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