Thursday, December 18, 2008

Cold and Quiet in Metro DC

So recently I lost my favorite academic and intellectual buddy to a difference in perspective about a situation. Oh, well. But my Machiavellian buddy, who is intellectual in a purely non-academic way, re-emerged to engage me in continuous lessons about survival that I often forget while getting caught in the romanticism of literature and fiction. This buddy was an English major, which is why we probably got along when we met 30 years ago. But unlike me, he turned his English degree into a gold mine, and he is always reminding me to stop letting the job work me that I need to learn how to work the job. Yeah, don't you hear the corporate, Machiavellian tone to his advice? But in the past two weeks, I decided that he was right. So, when I posted grades I gave all students better grades than what they earned from my purely crunching the numbers. Hey, and two students have already complained about their grades; even one student who plagiarized an essay. He neglected to remind me about his plagiarized essay in his efforts to negotiate a higher grade. But since I maintain electronic copies of problematic essays (I have told the students this, so I don't know why they are always testing me), I was able to ascertain immediately that this student was being very arrogant or ignorant in attempting to negotiate a higher grade after being warned about plagiarism. However, after sending the student an e-mail message reminding him about the plagiarized essay and also sending him a reassessment of his final essay (which he also plagiarized, but since I was grading so quickly, I ignored language and concepts that appeared suspicious and this essay slipped through the cracks), the student has conceded and thanked me for giving him a second (and third) opportunity to pass the class. Oh well, I am so worn out.

But back to my discussion about friendships at the beginning of this post. Anyway, there's always a yin and yang to relationships, and while I cherish all friendships very deeply and will work at maintaining them, sometimes it is best for people to part ways even when I regret the parting, even when the parting is painful. My mother used to tell me that it takes only 60 days to get over a casual relationship. So I operate on the 60 day rule. If I miss a person's friendship after 60 days, I will make one last concerted effort to mend the fence. However, if after 60 days I have made an adjustment, then I move on. If fate should cause our paths to cross again and we decide to mend the fence, then I will be amendable. But if fate does not intervene, c'est la vie.

The semester has finally ended. I have posted the vacation notice on my university e-mail and voice mail accounts. I've spent the past two days reading Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time" as a way to decompress from the semester. Tomorrow morning, I will return to my own writing, which has been woefully neglected these past 15 weeks.

It's cold in metro DC as it is everywhere else in the nation, it seems. I dread the cold, but I'm planning to ice skate on Christmas eve in memory of the way that my eldest niece, Brandi, and eldest nephew, Deondre, used to beg my mom and me to take them ice skating on Christmas eve, downtown Detroit. We would skate at Hart plaza with the Detroit river in the backdrop and the lights from Windsor, Ontario beckoning. Hopefully, I will get some of my neighbors to join me. However, if my neighbors decide not to join me, it will be me and the other lonely hearts on Christmas eve ice skating with the U.S. Capitol building and the Smithsonian museums in the backdrop. But I don't doubt that in addition to lonely hearts, there will be families, lovers, and people who just like to ice skate on Christmas eve.


E. said...

Be thankful that I couldn't make it out to expose the fine art of ice-falling.

I am always amazed at how easily people step off, come and go or end relationships. I build them based on understanding....and I'm learning to not have a heavy heart like before because people can be so cold.

E. said...

What is wrong with these students??

It reminds me of the final exam in your Morrison class.

You gave us an opt-in final for extra credit, what a gift.

I ran into one of the other students after the exam and he was so rude. He ridiculed the final and even went as far as to say he felt that you were abusive in class.

I looked at him like he was crazy.

M.L. Simms said...

Very true, I also wonder about that too. But, hey, people do what they feel most comfortable with doing. However, I have maintained more than a few close friendships with people for 30 years or more, and I cherish these relationships. As for the students, I don't know. I think that their attitudes are just symptomatic of our culture of privilege.