Monday, August 28, 2006

First Day of School

God I forgot how hard this gig actually is. In my memory, teaching composition at the university was something I could do blind-folded, and though I did in many ways slide back into my teaching demeanor, it was not a day without some nerve-wracking events.

I spent an hour printing out syllabi and course schedules before having to teach, and luckily had my friend Brooke's help in stapling everything together in time to go get some coffee and chat with her. When she asked for a copy of my Writing 2 course schedule so she could get some ideas from it, I realized I'd copied the original schedule instead of the one I revised over the weekend with heavy changes, and had to throw tons of paper into the recycle bin. Blah. Then I headed over to my first class to teach. Luckily it was not their schedule I screwed up on copying.

My first class was a Writing 1 course, which went well, and the students all seemed cool with how I explained my course would run and I told them enough about myself and how I like the classroom atmosphere to be that they could decide whether or not to drop my course and try out some other professor. First class done and things were still going well.

Then I go back to the department, print out the right schedules for my next two classes, staple most of them together until I run out of time and staples, then go down to the first floor to teach. But as I'm taking roll, I realize none of the students are on my list. I check to see if I have the wrong list and start calling names from my other Writing two class. Still no names. I check my schedule again. I'm in the right room, but an hour early. What's more confusing is the instructor who is supposed to be there isn't. I tell the students to wait for who is supposed to be teaching them, as there's always a bit of confusion on the first day, and then I hightail it over to the building I'm supposed to be in.

Luckily in that building, which is a block away, my students are all waiting in the hallway outside our classroom because the door is locked and they can't get in. Pure luck. I get someone to open it for us and start class about fifteen minutes late, but we get through everything and I like the vibe of the students in there.

Then I go back to the English department and staple the remaining schedules for the next Writing 2 class, which is down in the room I had gone to first the previous hour. I find the instructor who was supposed to be in that room waiting there now, thinking she has this class. She looks at her schedule and realizes her mistake too. She quickly packs her things and I assure her that her students will forgive her and be back on Wednesday, ready to roll. This class seems like it'll be fine too, though I saw a few faces in the classroom seem resistant or not really wanting to be there. I always address this issue in my classes because these courses are required and lots of students don't want to be there, don't want to read, don't want to write. Don't really want to be in college actually, but they think it's their magical ticket to a better life and job. Sometimes it is, sometimes it's not. I tell them I understand if they don't like composition courses, but there are lots of hoops in life you have to jump through, so it's better to just jump than resist. It'll be easier for everyone. I had to do it with math courses in college, at which I sucked. They liked hearing this. Making yourself human to your students is important, I think.

As I introduce my course and how it's run, during the first week I like to pretend to be a bit more formal than usual. I figure this scares away the students who want some majorly easy going teacher who will let them get away with doing nothing. They often drop the class when they think I'm a way serious fellow and I figure I'm left with the students who aren't afraid to actually do work. Unfortunately, my "way serious" act fell through in my last class as my cell phone went off, blaring Beyonce's "Crazy in Love", revealing, in fact, that I'm *not* way serious and have a Beyonce ringtone. Great. Looking forward to teaching *that* class the rest of the semester.

Hopefully Wednesday's classes will be less nerve-wracking.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Fantasy: The Very Best of 2005

My contributor's copies of Jonathan Strahan's "Fantasy: The Very Best of 2005" arrived the other day, and I've just got to say it's a really eclectic, interesting selection of stories. I look forward to the Year's Best anthology he'll edit for Nightshade Books next year as well. But definitely take a look at this one if you haven't done so already.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What We Know

I was informed last night that my story, "What We Know About The Lost Families of -- House" will be appearing in the Interfictions anthology, edited by Theodora Goss and Delia Sherman. I'm really excited to have made it into the table of contents for that anthology, which will appear in 2007.

Secret Thought!

I love my life so much sometimes I think everyone in the world should be jealous!

Monday, August 21, 2006

bush blair endless love

Again from my friend Naoko in Tokyo, another Youtube hit.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Back in Business

Well, things are starting to get back into order a bit. I just got reconnected to the internet in my apartment today, and everything but the platform bed I ordered for my futon has been moved into the new place. The platform should arrive today as well, so soon the move shall finally be declared over. The one unfortunate thing about this move is that it coincided with Diversicon, so instead of riding up to Minneapolis with Gavin and Kelly, I was moving furniture and putting pots and pans into my new cupboards.

Last Friday, turned in my second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, to my agent. Now I've begun to gather a short story collection together, tentatively titling it, Everything You Need. After I've finished with that, it'll be time for university courses to start up, so I'll be busy on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays teaching in the afternoons, but I'll have lots of time to begin writing something new. I'm still up in the air about what to work on next. This summer has been all about revising novels and stories for the collection. I have several novel ideas I could choose from for the next project, or I could begin writing a memoir of my time spent living and teaching in Japan. I think I'll wait till after I'm done with all the revising of things before I commit myself to whatever I move on to next. Something, perhaps none of the ideas I already have, will eventually assert itself as the next thing. It always does.

I'm catching up finally on emails also, so if I owe anyone a reply, it will be coming soon, I assure you.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Busy August

Right now = busy. I've finally found an apartment, a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful apartment in possibly the best location I've ever had when living in an apartment ever. I'm just beginning to move things from my folks' place out in the country into Youngstown now, so I'm going to be majorly busy this entire week, and then this entire month, because I need to go to the university and look through textbooks I can choose to use in my classes and decide what exactly I'm going to have my students read and discuss this fall semester. So lots of work to do to prepare for teaching again as well. It's been a while since I taught college, a couple of years, so I really need to get ready to do that again, as it's a different thing altogether from teaching English in Japanese elementary and junior high schools. In some ways, I feel all I had to do to make teaching English as a second language easy was to learn Japanese. But to make teaching college English easy for me, I need to prepare and organize even more, it feels. I have no idea why I would think it's easier to learn another language than organize English classes for college students who are mostly all native speakers, but for some reason I do think just that.

Anyway, I'll have spotty internet access until I can have it hooked up in my new apartment, so if I'm slow to respond to emails, please be patient and I'll get back to you as soon as I can.