Monday, October 30, 2006

Spooky Spookane

Hey kids, I added some new links. Colon cancer sucks ass is the blog of a friend of mine who was diagnosed with cancer last year. Remi 1000 is the blog of a friend of ours who writes random stuff about Spokane (I just about wrote Spookane. Perfect for Halloween). Taste Everything Once is the significant other of Remi 1000 and her blog is all about food and has some great recipes and food links on it.

As for me--same old school stuff. Getting mad at my students, at the state of education, at their inability to write and think and my inability to really do something about it. It really is disheartening when you assign a simple project (find an article about music in the NYTimes and write a summary/reflection on it) and it comes back with the article hand-copied by the student with no citations or source or summary or reflection. How do these people graduate from high school?

I'm happy tomorrow is Halloween--my all-time favorite holiday. Unfortunately I'll be working so I won't get to greet the cute little kiddies in their ballerina and sponge-bob costumes at our new door. We were hatching a plan where I'd answer the door, and while the kids were standing there, K would pop out of a garbage can and scare them. Although that might be a long time to wait in a smelly cold garbage can.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Seen any ectoplasm lately?

So, I've been spending the afternoon blogging instead of doing homework, but I need a break from the relentlessness of assignments and class-planning. I have two school-related blogs: one for my humanities class, and another one for our composer's group. They seem to be working well, although it's hard to tell how many students are looking at them. I post assignments and misc. announcements on them instead of using blackboard. Anyway, if you're reading this, forgive my long absence, but school has been crazy and I barely have time to sleep let alone write. But I've been realizing that my writing has really sucked lately in school papers, and unless you exercise that writing muscle, you kind of lose it, so in a way I am doing homework right now....

My humanities class is going fairly well. I am the teacher of 117 students, and so far it's been interesting to say the least. I'm not used to huge lecture classes, and miss the intimacy of small CSC classes. It's hard to keep track of attendance and participation when you don't know everyone's name (although I know a good 90% of their names). But on any given day only 30 out of 55 show up, so I guess it's not too bad. I have to keep reminding myself to stay detatched--to not care too much if they miss class or don't turn in assignments. There are a few kids that are really cool though and they make up for the less-interested ones. I showed the documentary about Evelyn Glennie called, "Touch the Sound," and after viewing it, one student came up to me and said it made her want to do something with her life. Amazing! That's exactly the response I wanted from that film, because I felt the same way after I saw it. Another student emailed me and told me I am the only prof of his this quarter that is actually teaching something passionately. I'm not bragging (okay maybe I am a little...) but isn't that sad? That the other profs are that apathetic about their subjects? I've also had students bring me coffee and mixed CD's (hoping for instant A's?), and been given gifts by a retired music professor (from my school) who happened to pop into my first class on the first day and ask if I was Dr. J.E. I told him who I was (a grad student studying composition), and since then he's tracked me down to donate used 3-ring binders for my students, 2 humanities-related books from his personal collection (which he's gradually donating to the library and music school), and a free ticket for a symphony concert tonight (he wants to discuss my reactions to a contemporary piece called, "Damn," which is on the program tonight). I was flabbergasted by this man's kindness, and also his never-ending interest in the musical development of music students. He used to be the chair of our music program and is a font of musical wisdom. The other day our piano pedagogy class met at Starbucks and he just happened to be there buying coffee beans (apparently he has stock in Starbucks). He spied all the piano books strewn across our table and asked us what class we were taking. He then asked if we were piano majors, and proceeded to ask each one of us what we would be playing on upcoming concerts. As each of the girls named off their pieces, for instance, the Bach Fugue No. 1 in C minor from the Well-Tempered Clavier, he'd look into space for awhile, his finger at his chin, and then say, "Oh yes. That's a lovely piece. How are you doing with the left-hand arpeggios?" I swear he knew every single piece they named (he was a piano professor at one point, but still...). He's so nice and humble--he just totally makes my day when I see him. So tonight I'm going to a concert, courtesy of Dr. R.

Other than school stuff, we just moved into a house! It's super sweet. I can play the accordion at 11pm and no one cares, except maybe K and some mice. There is a nice big guest bedroom (hint hint) and backyard, although that needs help (next summer: bring your trowels!).

I've been listening to Joni Mitchell's Hejira album (we're a block away from a record store, which is dangerous), and reading Haruki Murakami's "Sputnick Sweetheart," (disappointing), and "Spooks," by Mary Roach (very humorous and interesting. There's a delightful/disgusting chapter on ectoplasm. It makes for good Halloween/Friday the 13th reading...). What else? I'm wearing more neutrals these days, going to a hairstylist that can just look at your face and cut your hair so that it looks good, and having night dreams about old friends. Do you do that? Dream about someone you haven't thought about in ages?