Sunday, November 22, 2009

B for Bitter

NOTE:  I started writing this blog on Monday, November 16. I was then struck down with a wicked bad sinus infection, which delayed the completion of the blog. I mention this, dear reader, as a frame of reference; you were actually meant to read this at around the beginning of this past week.

Remember how I told you all about how I worked my ass off on discussion leading a couple of weeks ago and how blissfully happy I was that my efforts were rewarded with an A? Well, that A is now tainted. Why? Because all discussion leaders from last week got A’s as well. Yes, even the one who “ummmed” and “ahhhhhed” her way through and gave incorrect information. I am livid. If I would’ve known that it was that easy to get an A for the assignment, I wouldn’t have wasted so much time and energy working on it, and I most certainly wouldn’t have paid $22 to get color copies of handouts made for the class. It’s seriously ridiculous. Especially when the instruction sheet says, “Better Than the Average Bear: If you want an exceptional grade (B+ or better), you need to go the extra mile and help your classmates understand the multiple perspectives of your topic. Be creative with the visual aids you provide. Handouts and overheads can also be useful in discussion leading.” At least two of the groups from last week did not meet these criteria, and yet, they still got an exceptional grade. Go figure.

I’ve lost quite a bit of respect for this instructor and do not feel as though I can take her seriously anymore. I am still going to do what I need to in the hopes that I’ll earn an A in the class, but I’m jaded, and I’m frustrated, and I’m pissed. It just really sucks that, once again, the overachiever gets the shaft while the people who never give more than 100% (if that) glide by. 

Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse…I found out in class on Tuesday (November 17) that one can get a C or D on all three big essays and still get an A for the class. W.T.F?!?!?!  I just don’t get this instructor. I don’t understand the point of making us bother with big essays if they end up not meaning much in the end, and I most certainly don’t understand why you would reveal to the class that essays can be subpar and the student can still pull a good grade in the class. I almost want to slack off for the last big essay, because I think it’s ridiculous that we’re required to use six sources for a 3-4 page paper and only one of those sources can be the internet; two of the sources have to be from some type of scholarly journal. If I’m citing six sources in one 3-4 page paper, the majority of the paper isn’t going to be in my own words anyway—it’s gonna be quotes and paraphrases from the six sources I have to use. I fear, however, that the instructor is using our first essays as a benchmark for the next two and that she’s going to use that benchmark to grade us on our own individual abilities. So, because I am good, I will be expected to be great or better going forward. Since I got an A on the first essay, if I were to suddenly do C or D level work on the third essay, she’d know it wasn’t my usual quality of work and might grade my paper more harshly.

I just hate this class now and can’t wait for it to be over. I mean, I reeeeeeeeeally HATE it.  In class on Tuesday, we had to do peer feedback for our second essay. Peer feedback involves giving a draft of your essay to two of your classmates for them to review and give input. We’re then supposed to take that feedback into consideration as we complete the final essay, which is due a week later (in this case, essay two is due on the 24th). For our first essay, we got to pick our feedback partners; for this peer review session, we did not. The instructor created groups for us to work with, and within a few minutes of meeting with my two group members, I understood why. They were C and D level writers. The instructor must have decided that I, as the A level writer, could give them a lot of good feedback, which I think I did—I mean, I practically rewrote their papers for them! However, the feedback I received was minimal. Both group members told me that my paper was awesome and that they loved some of my word choices. (I used big words like extol and propensity.) The only piece of actual advice I got was to consider moving a paragraph or two to make the paper flow better. 

Not to sound elitist, but based on my performance versus my classmates in my last class and in this current class, I am clearly far too advanced for community college. I really wish instructors and school teachers and everyone else in the world of education would realize that coddling students and giving everyone who puts forth even the slightest bit of effort a good grade does no one any good at all. All it does is reinforce the entitlement mentality that is so prevalent in our society today. People continue to expect something for nothing, believing they should have to put forth as little effort as possible to get what they want out of life. Students are being taught that putting in the tiniest bit of effort is enough. It’s perfectly acceptable to shoot for the trash can if the stars seem too far away. It’s ridiculous and it’s sad.

The lesson I’ve learned from all of this is that I should perhaps lower my expectations of myself. I shouldn’t push myself so hard. I mean, why should I bother stressing over classes and pushing myself to give 110% or more when really I could probably give about 80% and still exceed my “peers”? It’s really disheartening, and I think it’s bullshit. Only four classes and one big essay left. This sinus infection has set me back a bit though, so I had to work my ass off on homework last night. I still haven’t even started my Interpersonal Communications competency, which needs to be completed by December 5. I’m really not too worried about it anymore though. If the one girl in my peer feedback managed to pass it, meaning she wrote a decent enough 4-8 page paper, then I most certainly am capable of writing a passable paper within a couple weekends.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I finally got my grade for discussion leading last week. I have been stressing out all week over it, and I’ve been checking the grading website obsessively. I think it’s so great that instructors have the ability to post grades online. I like to be able to check my progress as class progresses, so I think it’s a fabulous tool! However, it’s only as good as the information instructors post. If they post grades in a timely manner, it’s awesome; if they don’t, then not so much. Grades for last week’s assignments weren’t posted until about four o’clock yesterday, which is an hour and a half before class starts! I realized a couple days ago that, because you can check yourself against the progress of the class for each assignment listed, the instructor probably purposely waited to post our discussion leading grade because we were the first (and only) group to go last week, so she didn’t want everyone else knowing our grade.

I am so thrilled to say that we (I) got an A! The grading sheet had nine different items that were graded. There was a strength column and a weakness column next to these items with a line in each column corresponding to each of the nine items. The instructor had put an x at the top of the strength column and drew a line all the way down through the rest of the spaces in the column, so there was nothing in the weakness column. Her comments were as follows: “This was an exceptional presentation in every way—you provided a thoughtful and complex analysis of the essay and photograph and you raised engaging and provocative questions. Well done!” Then, at the grade area at the bottom of the sheet, there was an A. That’s definitely an A for effort, because I did put a lot of work into it, but it’s mostly an A for AWESOME!!!! I was, and still am, giddy! 10% of my grade is complete, and it’s an A! I could’ve suspected as much from the instructor’s comments in class last week, but as I said then, I didn’t want to get my hopes up. The closer we got to class this week without last week’s grades having been posted online, the more doubt crept in that perhaps we hadn’t gotten an A after all. I was beginning to get used to the idea that a B wouldn’t be so bad. Thankfully, I didn’t have to settle for a B. I earned that A, and I’m proud of it!!!

The instructor had asked me to share the grading sheet with my partner when she got to class, which I did. Partner looked at it for all of a few seconds and then handed it back to me. When we were about to go on break, partner asked if she could have the sheet back for a minute because she wanted to make a photocopy of it. As I was looking for it among all the things I’d just put away, she said, “Was that the grade you were hoping for?” I looked at her as though she’d grown five heads. I didn’t know how to respond. Doesn’t everyone hope for an A? Isn’t the goal usually to do the best job you possibly can, or at the very least, to get appropriate credit for working hard? I almost said, “Actually, no. I’m average, so my grades should be too. I would’ve been much more comfortable with a C.” I mean really. Come on now. What I actually said was, “I’m pretty pleased with it! Aren’t you?!?!” She didn’t really say much. I wondered if the reason she was going to make a photocopy of the grading sheet was because it was her first A ever in her whole entire life, and she wanted to go home and hang it on the refrigerator.

Then it became very clear to me that our partnership never in a million years would’ve been a successful one. Though partner appears to be a female approximately 35 years of age, she is in all reality an alien. The reason our partnership didn’t work so well was because of the inevitable miscommunication that occurs whenever different species try to interact. I didn’t understand the indifferent slacker work ethic of the alien while she didn’t understand my take charge, work hard attitude. I wish she would’ve at least given me some kind of sign of this difference between us. At least then I would’ve known what I was working with, and I wouldn’t have taken our failed partnership so personally.

At any point, I’m glad my (not that I'm keeping track) hard work paid off. I’m glad that, despite the fact that we had no example to go by, we (I) ended up pulling off a great presentation. I’m not glad that my classmates do not seem to have understood what the instructor meant last week when she said that we had set the bar high. Two out of the three discussions yesterday were excruciating, to say the least…

Pair one talked about the anti-drug campaign. Within fifteen minutes of them starting their presentation, I desperately began to think up possible scenarios to put myself out of my misery. Literally every other “word” the woman said was “ummm” or “ahhh” or “errr.” It was hell. We all do it sometimes; I know that. We all let those um’s and ah’s sneak in instead of letting silence hang as we formulate our next words. I’ve found that, if you know your topic well enough, there is less of a chance of this happening; once you get on a roll, you can talk continuously about the topic. Apparently Miss UmmAhh wasn’t aware of this. It seemed as though she had just figured out when she arrived at class yesterday that she and her partner had a presentation to give and discussion to lead. It became very clear that she wasn’t exactly well prepared when she informed us that, because meth production has gotten so bad, acetaminophen was removed from over the counter sales and can only be purchased from a pharmacist now. That’s quite obviously wrong, since you can walk into any pharmacy, retail, or grocery store to buy Tylenol. What you cannot buy over the counter anymore is pseudoephedrine, or “real” Sudafed.

Pair two talked about gender roles and how children determine and decide on how to act according to their gender. Discussion revolved around how adults influence children, how toys and toy commercials (think Barbie) influence children, etc. They actually did a pretty good job, and we had an interesting class discussion. The only problem I had was that they distributed a handout that was clearly just printed off of a website, so it wasn’t their own work, and they didn’t refer to it once throughout their whole presentation. It was like they saw the part on the direction sheet that said “handouts are encouraged” and decided they had to have one to get a higher grade. Their handouts were two pages on two separate sheets of paper. If they were going to waste paper, they could’ve at least just wasted one sheet per person by doing the handout as a double sided sheet. I judge them for killing more trees than were necessary in the hopes that it would get them a better grade.

Pair three was on a tight schedule. The instructor had told them class was running out of time and that they had 25 minutes to get everything said, discussed, and wrapped up. Most people would be grateful for this, I would think. I would also think it would compel you to get through your portion of the presentation quickly so that you could open up the class discussion and be done. Unfortunately, one of the women in this pair was the “my life is so interesting everyone wants to hear every stupid minute detail about it” type. (Says the girl who writes a blog; don’t worry, the hypocrisy isn’t lost on me. At least you, dear reader, get a choice in the matter. You have the ability to ignore the stupid minute details of my life, because you are not being forced to read this blog.) The topic of the discussion was how to write a catchy beer ad. Ms “my life is interesting” decided to regale us with stories of working in the marketing industry. She had apparently done a stint at a market research firm and decided we all need the intricate details of demographics, target markets, focus groups, etc. It became clear later on that she was just regurgitating the big words she’d heard while working at this firm; not only because the stuff she was saying was stuff that was pretty much common knowledge, but also because when someone asked her later on what the target market for the three beer commercials they’d shown were, she stumbled around for an answer that clearly wasn’t right.

Lest you think I’m being smug about my A and unreasonably bitchy and judgey* regarding the performance of my classmates, I need to tell you that many of my classmates seemed to share my opinion. I had people leaning over and whispering to me during the first presentation saying things like, “You guys did really good last week.” (And because they were complimenting me, I resisted the urge to correct them, because even politely saying "really well" could've been misconstrued as rude.)  During the class break, others were talking about how excruciating the first presentation had been and were reminding me that my partner and I kicked butt last week. So while I might have been bitchy and judgey in this blog, it was not without cause. Oh, and it’s kinda who I am, and I accept that about me. Hopefully you can too.

* Yes, I know judgey isn't a "real" word; however, I think it should be, because it is appropriate in so many situations.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Importance of a Support System

I’m only at the beginning of my journey as an adult learner. I’m sure that, as I adjust to the craziness of changing classes and homework demands, my feelings towards school will change; it will eventually become just another thing that I do, so it won’t be as difficult as it is now. Right now though, I'll admit that I struggle with some of it.

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I don’t think there’s any way I ever could’ve prepared myself for how much work returning to school really would be. I’m currently only taking one class one night a week so, because I’ve selected accelerated class, I’m taking two classes a semester. In addition to that, I’m trying to do at least one competency each semester in order to get them out of the way (only four fit into my degree plan). Competencies are a way to quickly complete credits to avoid taking a whole class. They’re designed to give the student credit for prior learning, or credit for life experience, and they’re even quicker and cheaper than accelerated classes. The subject matter of the competency determines what the student is required to do. See this blog: Another One Down for an example of the work I have to do to complete the Interpersonal Communications Competency (it’s about the 6th paragraph in).

It doesn’t sound like much, but trust me, it is. I’ve been consistently surprised by the amount of homework given in each class. That’s the part I struggle with the most right now. It’s hard finding the time to get it all done. I work forty hours per week, and by the time I get home each night all I want to do is unwind, which I can’t do when I have homework to tend to. All I do at work most days is try hard to look like I’m working. I don’t have a lot of work to do on any given day; my boss knows this, but he doesn’t really care and he doesn’t try to fix it. Apparently, that’s my responsibility though every time I try to find or create work for myself it ends up being something he doesn’t think I should be focusing on for one reason or another; it’s frustrating to say the least.

On the one hand, it can be nice because I can work on homework if it’s an assignment where I don’t have to refer to a book or anything—like a writing assignment, for example—so that it’s not obvious to the other residents of cubicleland that I’m not working on work related things. On the other hand, it’s exhausting to be bored to tears for up to eight hours a day. Needless to say, the last thing I feel like doing when I get home from work is homework. The assigned readings practically put me to sleep, which isn’t good when one of the things I need to get done is summaries of certain essays I’ve read. I’ve done a really really really bad job of keeping up with homework this week, because I haven’t been feeling well so I’ve been extra exhausted. This weekend is going to suck again in terms of homework, because that is all I’ll be doing.

All of that being said, if you’re an adult who’s considering returning to school, I have some advice for you. First, understand that returning to school is life changing in a big way. Second, it is essential, I think, to have a really good support system in place. I’m lucky that I have Music Man in my corner. He is completely and totally amazing. When I’m upset and crabby about homework or overwhelmed with trying to get everything done, the first words out of his mouth are always, “What can I do to help?” He helped me out so much this week alone. Monday, he traded cars with me so that he could take mine in for an oil change, which was long overdue. Getting a haircut was also long overdue, and I wanted to get it done before standing up in front of my whole class for discussion leading on Tuesday. Then, when I finished the handout for discussion leading on Monday night, he ran to kinkos for me and got the 25 color copies I needed so that I could finish up the rest of my homework. It’s the little things like that that can make a huge difference when you’re at the pressure cooker stage of feeling overloaded.

My BFF is also greatly supportive. As is my cousinfriend. In addition to the supportive people, there are apathetic people (my boss and coworkers) and completely unsupportive people. This latter category is tricky. They can make you doubt yourself and can be upsetting and exhausting to deal with. Sadly, my own mother falls into this category.

Below are some examples of how helpful supportive people can be and how destructive unsupportive people can be:

Me: I HATE this class! It SUCKS! It’s sooooooooooooooooooooooooo much work.

Music Man: “Don’t let it get you down, hon. You’ve only got 'x' weeks left. You CAN do it! When you’re done, you’re going to be one step closer to completing your degree. It’s going to be worth it in the end. I’m sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo proud of you. What can I do to help?”

BFF: “I don’t blame you! It sounds really stupid. I could never do what you’re doing; I could never ever go back to school. I just couldn’t handle it. I really don’t know how you do it.”

Cousinfriend: “I’m so proud of you. You can do it!!”

Mom: “Oh that’s too bad. Yeah, my life is majorly busy lately too. I get home from work and cook dinner and do a few other things, and before I know it, it’s time for bed! My life is going to be changing in a big way next month because I have a couple seminars I have to take for a board of director’s position I took with a local charity. It’s going to be so super busy and hectic.” Lays on guilt trip that I never see her or nephew and never talk to her anymore.

Me: I’m so sorry. I can’t make it to event “A, B, C,” because I have homework (class, study group, etc.).

Music Man: “It sucks that you don’t get to go have fun because you have to work. I can’t wait until this class is over for you so that you can take a much deserved break. I’ll run the dog out of energy before I go to this gig. I love you. Anything else I can do to help?”

BFF: Doesn’t ask me to go to any event that conflicts with my class or homework schedule, because she already knows my schedule because we talk every single day.

Cousinfriend: “I totally understand. It’s cool. We’ll get together soon.”

Mom: *Blank stare or incredulous silence on other end of phone* “Oh. I figured as much.” OR “Oh. I forgot you have school.” *GIGANTIC SIGH* “Fine.” Files my horrible rejection of her away for future guilt trips.

Me: Someone asks what I’m up to and I tell them I’ve been busy with school. They say something like, “Oh! I didn’t know you were in school. That’s great! What for?” I reply, “Social Work.” They reply, “That’s exciting! Good for you!”

Music Man: Big, proud smile.

Mom: “Yep! That’s my super smart daughter!” (She loves taking credit for the good stuff.) “I wish I had the time to go back to school,” *SIGH* “but, I’m so busy raising a three year-old and working. I’m going to be working in a social work capacity in my position on the board of directors of local charity.” And on, and on, and on, ad nauseam because the world does, in fact, revolve around her.

As you can see, dear readers, those supportive people are awesome. They empathize, sympathize, offer to help, lift your spirits, act as a sounding board, and would do anything they could to help you. Never once do they say what’s probably really on their mind: “Ummmm…you signed up for this, dummy. This is all your doing. Why don’t you just quit?”

You would think my mother would be one of those awesome people, wouldn’t you? Well, maybe not so much after reading the above, but logically one would think that a parent would be one of their child’s biggest supporters. As you can see from what you’ve read above, my mother is not like that. She’s been this way my whole life, so I’m used to it. It doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still hurt sometimes. It would be nice, just once, for her to say that she’s proud or to empathize or even just to not make everything all about her for a change. I think when I was younger, my mom probably taught me, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” but as you can see, she doesn’t live by that. (So maybe she didn’t teach me that after all???? Well, someone did, because I know, remember, and use it.)

If she were a wild animal, my mother would be one that would eat her young, and I’d be the first to go. Since I’ve been a teenager, my mother has competed with me in a contest that exists only in her mind. She acts almost jealous of me at times, which I don’t understand and is quite unsettling when you consider that she’s the adult and I’m the child. (Well, not anymore—I am over thirty after all—but I am and always will be her child.) Then again, for as long as I can remember, I’ve been more of an adult than my mother ever has. I mean, it’s not very adult to tell your seventeen year old daughter that she’s a “prima donna bitch” who needs to get out of your house because she’s obviously outgrown it and thinks she’s too good for it.

You might wonder why I haven’t or don’t write my mother off completely, and the main reason that I don’t is my nephew. She has custody of my nephew (the explanation of that is a blog for another day), and if I didn’t play nice with her, I fear that I wouldn’t get to see or spend time with him. And that would just about kill me. I feel as though I see him too little the way it is, so to have my time with him be even more restricted (or even taken away all together) would just absolutely crush me.

I don’t know, nor do I think I’ll ever know, why my mother feels the way she does towards me, and at this point, I’m getting really sick of even pretending to care. We both do it though. We both put on our masks to give the world the appearance that we are a wonderful mother/daughter duo and everything is status quo. We wear our pretend faces for each other too—her to appear to be the loving and proud mother, and me to pretend that I’m the respectful and loving daughter. It is what it is, and it will not change. So, I have to continue to roll with the punches, and I have to remember not to try to have any sort of meaningful conversation or relationship with her. From now on, when she asks how I am or what’s new or anything like that, I’m going to stick with, “I’m fine. Things are good.” Because I am and they are. I have my support system; people who love me unconditionally and would do most anything for me, and for that, I am most grateful.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I know you're just dying to know...

Last night was the moment of truth: Discussion Leading.

My partner finally responded to my emails on Monday. She sent some of the stuff I had sent to her back to me and wrote, “I added my research and added a couple questions to the handout.” Great. Good. So, I open the most important document first, which is our analysis of the essay we read. She did her analysis on the photographer and the photo that the essay was about while I did mine on the author and the essay itself. She took more than half of the wording I’d used in my analysis and made it her own. Soooooooooooo NOT COOL! So, I did a mash up (bonus points if you know where that’s from) of her “analysis” and my analysis to come up with something that would work for both of us. I decided she could present the view of the photographer and I would present the view of the author. I rewrote the analysis to break each point down to author versus photographer and highlighted her parts of the analysis, basically our talking points, in blue and mine in green and sent it back to her explaining my idea. As I hit send, I cursed once again about how much I loathe partner work. *SIGH* At least the two questions she added to the handout were good.

She finally used the cell phone number I’d given her in a previous email to call me (a novel idea). She apologized for being MIA for awhile and said she’d been having computer issues. Whatever. She liked my idea of splitting the presentation and thanked me for all the work I did. We agreed that we’d show a short video clip after presenting our analysis and then we’d discuss the handout I made to get the discussion going.

I’m beyond proud of the handout I made. We (I) decided to focus on graphic images in the media, specifically photos of human tragedy. I did a one sheet summary of our topic, advantages and disadvantages to showing graphic images, and an accompanying two sided handout with pictures. One side focused on a recent suicide bombing in Baghdad and the other focused on Hurricane Katrina. The top half of the sheet showed photos that did a good job of telling a story on their own—for Baghdad, a bombed out building, and for Katrina, photos showing the magnitude of the flooding and a man being rescued. The bottom half of the sheet showed more graphic photos—for Baghdad, dead bodies that had been pulled from the rubble, and for Katrina, a corpse floating in the water. The one sheet summary also included about half a dozen open-ended questions for discussion. I knew we wouldn’t have time to cover all of the questions, but I thought it could be food for thought. We based the discussion around whether or not the bottom photos on the sheets were necessary. Why does the general public needs to see these images? Whey do they want to? Etc.

Since we were going to be the very first discussion leaders for the class, we really had nothing to go by, so I hoped that what I’d come up with was at least somewhat right. We were the only ones signed up to do discussion leading yesterday, because no one else was stupid enough to sign up for the very first week of discussion leading. My partner and I had agreed to try to make it to class early to go over some last minute details regarding the order of our presentation and who would say what. Class starts at 5:30. I was there at 5. I skipped dinner because I’d spent the whole day battling an increasingly painful migraine and was now at the point where nearly every time I took a breath in I felt like I would vomit. My partner finally managed to show up at 5:35. This was not starting off well, and I really didn’t care anymore. I just wanted to be done with the project. I had gotten to the point where I was hoping she just wouldn’t show up. I’d done most (all) of the work anyway, and I’d had it with her at this point. I was not interested in anymore excuses, and I was willing and able to tackle this on my own.

I’d met with the instructor for a few minutes before class to clarify time limit; our instruction sheet said half an hour max and I needed to know if that was for our part of the presentation or for the whole class discussion. I was hoping it was the former, because we had a lot of material to cover and I thought the discussion would probably go on for a while. Unfortunately it was the latter, which I was worried about.

We got a class break before having to give our presentation, so we took a couple minutes then to make sure we were on the same page with things. I filled my partner in on the time limit, and she didn’t seem worried. She was incredibly confused when I told her I thought we would go over time. She didn’t seem to realize that discussion leading meant leading a discussion, which meant getting through our presentation quickly in order to get to the discussion quickly. We wanted to be able to ask at least a couple questions for the discussion, and we’d want to give our classmates time to respond to our questions and, you know, discuss the topic.

When we finally got through our presentation (partner had apparently decided at the last minute, after I’d told her about my concerns with time and the need for us to get through our portion of the presentation quickly, that she needed to add a bunch of detail to her info on the photographer; probably because she was feeling guilty about doing practically no work for this whole project. I swear, she might as well have told us what the guy frickin’ ate for breakfast each day and what color boxers he preferred.) we started the discussion. I was surprised at how many of our classmates eagerly joined right in. It’s a touchy subject, so I knew everyone would have an opinion, but I didn’t have a good feeling about class discussions based on my previous class where a couple other students and I did all of the talking while the rest just stared at us as they tried not to drool all over themselves. After our first couple questions, I saw the instructor give me the signal that we should wrap up in five minutes. My partner, of course, didn’t see this, so she kept talking. (She really wasn’t getting the point that this was time for the class to discuss the topic, which meant she didn’t have to give an eleventy billion worded reply to every response a classmate gave. I’m glad I had a migraine, because if I hadn’t had to concentrate so hard on not vomiting, my patience would’ve worn out and I would’ve snapped and smacked a bitch.)

The discussion ended up going twenty minutes beyond the five minute warning, which I was super worried about until I remembered that the instructor had said she would cut us off when she wanted the discussion to end. She told the class that, unfortunately, the discussion had to end. She realized that it was an issue that could be discussed for days and encouraged everyone to use our wonderful (exact word she used) handout to spark discussion with friends and family. She thanked us and told the class to thank us for having the courage to be the first ones to go. Everyone clapped for a second time.  She then said, “I love it when discussion leading starts out this good.” I tried not to smile, because I didn’t want to look vain and was still standing in front of the whole class.

She told the class that she wanted to tell them, and us, what we did right. Since she maintained her position sitting with the class, my partner and I remained stainding in front of the whole class as she said that we did an awesome job of showing multiple points of view on the topic and in making it relevant to today. She said that we did a great job of coming up with questions to get the discussion started and to keep it moving. She said our topic was one of the harder ones to lead, because there is so much that can be said about the topic. She told our classmates to thank us for “showing them how it’s done” and giving them such a good example. A couple of the guys in class jokingly said, “Why should we thank them?!? They set the bar way too high!” to which the instructor replied, “Yes. They did set the bar quite high. That’s exactly why you should thank them; there should be no question for the rest of you now as to what you need to do for discussion leading.” As we returned to our seats, many of our classmates told us it was a great discussion and that they really enjoyed it.

I. Was. THRILLED! If I’m being modest, I would say that I was shocked when the instructor said we set the bar high, because my only hope was that we did a good enough job and were at least somewhere near the right track; I was really just relieved that it was over. However, if I’m being honest, I was really hoping she’d say that. I worked really frickin’ hard on this project! I am a perfectionist, and as such, I set the bar incredibly high for myself. To know that someone saw that and appreciated it made all of that hard work seem worth it. So, that’s it. It’s finally over. I eagerly await my grade for the project, which as a reminder is 10% of my final grade. If the instructor’s comments are any indication, I should get a pretty good grade. Hopefully an A, but I don’t want to get my hopes up.

So what have we learned from all of this, class?  Frazzled doesn't do partner work.  It just doesn't mesh well with her controlling, perfectionist tendancies.

P.S.  Parnter thanked me profusely for all the hard work I did and apologized for being "kind of hard to reach."  Her brother-in-law was hospitalized last week, and because she doesn't work right now, she was nominated to sit with him in the hospital while her sister cared for their kids.  She didn't have access to her computer at the hospital, so she had a hard time keeping up with everything.  I believe her, because she didn't have the draft of her big essay, which was due yesterday, finished either.  I felt bad for her and wish she just would've been honest with me.  She could've backed out and lead discussion on a different week, on a different topic, with a different partner or on her own.

Sunday, November 1, 2009


My discussion partner seems to be MIA.  I wonder if she's decided our topic is too hard, so she doesn't want to deal with it.  Perhaps she's been struck down by H1N1.  Maybe she's contacted the instructor and pleaded temporary insanity, "I didn't realize what I was doing singing up for Discussion Leading so soon."  I don't know.  What I do know is that I worked my ass off today to gather materials for the discussion and to complete my rhetorical analysis of the essay we're focusing on.  I haven't heard from my partner since Thursday, and we have to lead this discussion in class on Tuesday; a little less than 48 hours from now.  We still need to figure out who is going to say what and whether we're on the same page in terms of the analysis of the essay.  This is why I hate working with partners.  For now, I'm preparing to fly solo on this one, because that way I will be prepared no matter what.

Music Man brought up a good point after witnessing my meltdown this morning over all the work I still had to do.  Even though I'll still have about the same amount of homework from week to week, this big project will be out of the way.  After this week, I'll no longer have to worry about this big, stressful part of my grade.  This is both good and bad.  Good because it will be done and I will not have to stress over it anymore.  Bad because it's 10-15% of my grade, and if I don't do well on it, that's just going to damper my spirits; maybe even push me to decide that I might as well not try as hard on all the other stuff.  I reeeeeeeeally hope I do well on it.  I'll know after Tuesday.

I have one piece of the mountain of homework left to complete:  the essay.  I've picked my art.  Now all I have to do it bullshit my way through the first draft of an essay.  I should be able to get that done tomorrow.  Then, I'll be all ready to go for class.  What a fantastic fuckin' weekend I've had.  I bet you wish you were me...
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