Monday, March 09, 2009

Supposed to

I'm supposed to be grading right now, but I'm not, mostly because I need at least one more cup of coffee before I can tackle that. I am a slow grader. I can only manage 3 or 4 papers at once before I start to pull my hair out. It's not that the papers are bad; many of them are quite good. It's that the energy it takes for me to come up with the right comments that will be supportive of what's good, redirect what needs improvement, and offer advice for the next paper is huge.

I was also supposed to go to a school board meeting on Thursday and make a podcast on Friday. Both canceled due to child illness. When my kids were little, I knew to plan for unexpected things to happen that might disrupt the best laid plans. In grad school, I started papers weeks in advance, just in case my progress was disrupted by a sick kid that wouldn't let me leave their side. And this did indeed happen once in a while. But I've gotten complacent in recent years, as my kids have gotten older, and so even if they do get sick, they're content to lie on the couch and watch tv, with just a few check-ins from mom, and some food and medicine every once in a while.

It doesn't help that all of my "supposed tos" are now self imposed. I could put off looking at the papers all week and torture myself by doing them all at once at the end. But I know I can't. The podcast is kind of a marketing tool for a business I can't really dedicate a huge amount of time for until summer. Eventually, this will need to be a more regular event. And, of course, it's my own need to be involved that led me to want to attend the board meeting. I have no idea if this will or will not be useful, which makes me less motivated to make the effort to attend.

I'm also supposed to be exercising, but the last round of grading, plus a trip for a conference, left me little time for that. And now, of course, I'm thinking about putting a bathing suit on in June and it makes me fearful. I shouldn't care. I really shouldn't, but I do.

I don't like all these supposed tos. Some of them--like the podcast--are easy to frame as "get to". The fact that I can, if I want to, spend the time to make a podcast is a freedom most people don't have. I can even do that with the grading. How many people get to teach college level classes at a place like my SLAC? But some supposed tos come from external pressures to be a certain way, to look a certain way, etc. Those supposed tos I'm trying to get rid of. What supposed tos would you like to purge?