I had the mother of all anxiety dreams last night. I dreamed that I was late for my first day of class at my new job. I got lost and couldn’t find the classroom, then when I finally found it, there were 2 other classes being taught in there at the same time, so my class had to move. We found a new room, and then had to leave that one also for some reason. So, I started teaching in a hallway. I was unprepared, and with all the classroom confusion, it gave two of the students the chance to revolt. They took over the class and had an insurrection. I tried to regain control of things, but couldn’t. And then I woke up in a cold sweat. At which point, I realized what I had been doing and just totally cracked up. Sheesh, it was so transparent: late, lost, unprepared, out of control — if only I’d been naked and falling, then I’d have hit on all the classics. At least I’m efficient, rolling all of my anxieties into one neat little package.
Given that huge shout out from my subconscious, today I thought I should probably do something about getting ready to teach this fall. I have been focusing solely on the dissertation all summer, but clearly it was time to starting to think about the teaching. So, today I set aside the dissertation and did some good prep for the fall. I chose a textbook, started working on the syllabus, bought a couple of things on-line for the office, and worked on painting the shelves that hang on my office wall (a nice deep pine green) –all while doing laundry since it was a dry, sunny day and things could dry out on the line. I could tell it was time to do some laundry because both Spousal Unit and I resorted to using beach towels today for our showers, his with a teddy bear and mine the giant-jumbo one we normally use like a blanket for sitting on. These were all good things, but I had trouble focusing and concentrating — I kept jumping between tasks. I think the anxiety from the dream persisted, even though I knew it was silly to be so worried. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to find the classroom, and fairly confident that no student insurrections are in my future. Whether or not I’ll be prepared, though, is still up in the air.
Choosing a textbook was a bit of a big deal especially. I’m not a fan of textbooks, and I think that generally I won’t use them after this year, but there just isn’t time this summer to both finish my dissertation and to develop the intro course the way I would really want to teach it. Next year, hopefully. Early in the summer I had looked at the text that the department used and was a bit uncomfortable with some of its approaches. So, I strongly considered using a text by a professor whose work I admire, but I really prefer the narrative format and that text only comes in the big, bells and whistles version. I found another narrative text that I really liked the early chapters in, but that later on had some REALLY problematic uses of judgmental language about people in the past. For example, “‘poor white trash’ were ignorant and lived in squalor.” (When I read the sentence out loud to Cleis, she gasped.) Setting aside the problems with “poor white trash” as a concept (defining any persons as “trash”, assuming that one must distinguish between the white trash and the rest of the presumably non-white trash, classism, etc.) I’m really uncomfortable with such value-laden descriptions of past persons’ lives — how about saying they lacked access to education and were impoverished? Maybe I’m being too sensitive, but I’m really feeling this choice as a burden. Not that anyone ever would think, “hey that was a great textbook,” when remembering a class – but I don’t want to have to spend all of my class time problematizing the ideas presented in the book I assign them to read. So, I just decided that I’d defer to the department and return to the one that they used. The things that made me uncomfortable in that book were gleaned out from the brief edition, so I’ll just go with that one. I’ll also use a documents book, and probably other selected items throughout the semester. SO, that is a bit of an accomplishment. Now, I just have to figure out how to get the bookstore to order the book!
Spousal Unit is at the Big Science Thingey tonight, so I’m on my own. I ate a Lean Cuisine and am doing some more syllabus work, but I think I’ll call it off soon and watch one of the films I bought to use in class this fall. Hopefully tonight, I won’t dream that I’m skydiving naked while screaming a silent scream, losing my teeth, and being chased by a gorilla smoking a giant cigar. That would just be so darn hackneyed, I don’t know if I could live with myself.