Sunday, November 22, 2009

All I Saw Was A Tweedy Flash, Officer…

A few of your recent posts reminded me of something. You brought back to me the vivid memory of my typical “non-sabbatical” state of mind during this point in the semester. It is a feeling of gloom brought on by endless grading, too many demands on my time, crappy weather, and impending deadlines. Any excitement about the start of the semester has long since passed and there are too many obstacles ahead for any glimmer of excitement emanating from the end of the semester to shine through. I experience a brief “gloom phase” every single semester. Knowing that helps a bit, but it still feels like crap.

Being on sabbatical means I don’t have to experience it this year, but I am aware that gloom season would be right now for me and I think it’s right now for some of you. It makes me fantasize about a superhero (I picture a tweed cape) that could somehow fly around and relieve all of you stuck in gloom phase of your burdens. But what would that superhero do? I know when I’m feeling this way I know I need to relax. I need a break from grading papers, working on lectures, freaking out about some manuscript I haven’t touched in weeks, and the endless barrage of email. But an overwhelming sense of obligation keeps me from doing this. I’ve decided the only solution is for this superhero to provide valid excuses for imposed relaxation. The kind of excuse you can pass along to your students, Main Office Assistant, TA, GA, and/or colleagues without any trace of guilt and will force you to stop frantically working. This superhero is going to have to break some eggs.

What would our “gloom phase” superhero do? Bad things. Deliciously bad things. Our superhero would pull fire alarms before your class, release non-toxic but smelly substances throughout your building, and cause minor flooding. So sorry, class and office hours are canceled. University email systems are going have to go down in dramatic fashion. So sorry, I didn’t receive those whiny messages about how you have no time to study but do have the time to offer me nonsense extra credit work. Perhaps a minor fire needs to break out. So sorry, who knew the wiring on the Scantron machine was so bad? Jury duty might be required. So sorry, but I must attend to my civic duty. Crazy weather, vandalism, and all manner of suspicious activity might occur, leaving only a trace of tweed fibers in its wake. Shit just needs to go down.


  1. Well, someone already gave me this excuse: impregnation approximately 8.8 months ago has me well on my way to a few weeks of imposed relaxation (although soon to be filled with stress of a different kind).

  2. This brightened my horrendous paper-writing experience that is currently taking place...that I am currently "breaking" from. Now the same obligation that you mentioned is taking over.

  3. Pregnancy is an awesome excuse! During my first pregnancy, my doctor recommended I go on a "reduced" load. And he did this just in time for me to pass off a class that was going to meet 8 hours a week for the last nine weeks of the term. My chair hired a long-term sub who did EVERY for the class (ordered books, did all the plans). I was left teaching two classes. With full-time pay. SOOOO civilized.

    Another time, pregnancy gave me an excuse to quit serving as treasurer for our union. Now THAT was a godsend.

    On the flip side, now my crazy times are MUCH crazier because of the results of said pregnancies.

    Power outages are definitely a bonus.

  4. I've gotten many of the same effects from strep, though I'm not sure that the "release" is as complete as it would be with a Puckish Goodfellow on my side.

  5. "Who was that tweed-masked man?"

    "I don't know, Adjunct Woman, but Jiminy, he sure saved our bacon!"

    This should happen. How can we get 'secret hide-out equipped with courseload sensors' into a funding bid?

  6. I think the masked tweed marauder should arrive with fully formed lectures for the week, provide feedback on manuscripts in progress, alert you to new papers in the literature and provide a detailed synopsis of said papers, and finally, deliver a 6 pack of good beer.

  7. I hope the superhero breaks and scrambles the eggs, throws down some bacon, and makes fresh bagels with blueberries.

    Oh, bad things... whoops. my bad. I want the alter-ego bandit to permanently bury all the football gear including the goal post, dismantle the sprinkler systems that cause mass flooding in the streets without wetting a single leaf, and beat the money out of the vending machine that won't vend my fucking gummi bears.

  8. Dear Captain Tweed,

    Thank you for making it snow yesterday, but you stopped too soon! I had asked (by rubbing my superhero decoder ring) you to cause a snow day, or a snow week (we being one of the only colleges in the known universe not to have Turkey week off), but noooooooo. All we got was a few inches, some ice, and snow trucks clearing the road allowing classes to be held today.

    Phooey on you!



  9. I'll pass along these messages to Captain Tweed.

    In case of emergency, I can sneeze on you which should get you about 3 days worth of legit couch time. I'll supply sudafed too.

  10. You are going to have to post bail for me when I'm arrested tomorrow for doing at least two of these.

  11. Dear Professor:
    Sorry to do this to you, but I thought the timing was apt. I have crashed your computer and wiped out the files. All your grades are gone, which means an all-or-nothing final for your students, which you will find in the attached envelopes. All your manuscripts are gone, which means you will miss your deadline. But so will your editor because I wiped out her computer, too. All of your holiday card address files are gone, too, so no need to worry about cards or gifts.
    This note will self destruct just as you read this last tidbit: Don't worry---it's all on a thumbdrive that will magically appear once the heat is entirely off. Say, February? Go take a nap. Yours truly, Captain Tweed.

  12. I am kind of in love with the idea of a Tweed-Caped adventurer...

    Especially one with mischief on his mind!