Thursday, September 12, 2002

Why I love my wife:

Instead of insisting we come straight home after running our errands after work, she let me hang out in the concrete aisle at Lowe's and compare the various permutations of Quikrete, just because.

Can't buy that kind of love.

7:58 PM

I knew this day was coming, so I dressed appropriately.

Kirk and Tom both alternate their dress between shirt and ties, and polo shirts, so I do the same. This week, I wore polo shirts M-W because I couldn't stand a stiff collar against my poison ivy rash. Today, I consciously thought, "I can't wear polo shirts on T/R anymore. I'm going to lose control of my architectural design class if I don't draw the line between me and them right now."

So, back to the shirt and tie today.

I like the kids in my architectural design class, but the boys are kind of squirrelly. I've had to stop talking a couple of times already this semester and ask them to focus on me, not their private conversations. So far, it's been okay, but I don't want it to get out of control. Today, I had to ask two of the male students to stop screwing around with their computers and pay attention. It worked for about 30 seconds, after which point they started laughing and talking again about whatever it was J. was doing on his screen. Two minutes later, J. interrupts what I'm saying and asks if I want to see his garage design. No, and you need to start paying attention. Giggling continued, so I stopped and told them to turn their monitors off. I think I used the words "completely inappropriate" to describe their behavior. They sobered up a bit, but the instant I was done lecturing, J. told me he wanted to show me his garage.

Said garage was a 3-D surface model. Do you have a floor plan for this garage, J.? No? Then I suggest you start working on the assignment. It was a nice model, though.

So, I'm sitting at the lectern, listening to the four boys in the class *not* work while the two women in the class try to get something done, and I hear T. talking about his garage, and how it's going to have a second story, and how he's going to put a jacuzzi in it, blah, blah, blah. I remind him that he's not allowed to make the garage habitable or he'll exceed the 2000 sq.ft. of habitable space limit. "But you said I could have a two-story garage!" And I explain that, yes, it can be two story, but that I also said it has to be storage space, or a workshop, or a garden room, but not a family room or office. No more habitable space. "But you--!" No, T., no habitable space. "But I want--" No. The assignment is to keep it under 2000 sq.ft, no habitable space. "But--!" This is not a matter for negotiation, T. You can do that garage if you want, but it won't meet the requirements of the assignment.

He kept trying to protest, and I finally said, "Look, I'm the instructor, and I'm the one handing out the grades. I gave you the assignment, and I expect you to complete it. End of discussion."

T. pouted the rest of class, muttering to himself. I felt a little bad, because he looked like he might cry, but I had to draw the line or be crushed. Tom and Kirk seem to have a natural sense of authority that I just don't have, I've got to establish it. I wanted to explain to him, "Hey, I don't want to be a hard ass, but I need to teach you how to design for a client, not for yourself. This is going to help you in the long run, and I really do know what I'm doing," but no male teacher would have to justify his reasons for his decisions, so I don't see why I should have to justify mine.

It's too bad, because they actually make me laugh when they're more or less behaving themselves. I like the casual atmosphere, and that I can just kind of chat my way through the lecture material without being so formal. There's only six students, so formality isn't really possible. But, on the other hand, I have to maintain order, and this is the only way I know how to do it.

4:53 PM

Okay, Linda is officially forgiven. It may take her three years to actually send e-mail, but when she does finally cough one up, it's a good one. I remember now why I try so hard to emulate her.

I love this bit about her latest travels:

"One of my favorite moments was the interview - through a translator - with a woman who had never married. Of course, being unmarried is not a favorable state in this very Catholic community. But she is very independent and lives with a wry sense of humor. What was fun about our interview, though, was our being pulled into reality. The village is small, with two streets that just run to end as they go up a hill and paths that lead to the remainder of the houses. It is easy to become romantic and think that this is a place outside of time. So, when we came to the coffee and cake part of the interview - a necessary component of
every visit from the perspectives of the people in Slovakia - this little elderly woman says, "What would you like, regular coffee, decaf, or CAPUCCINO? Then, after having poured coffee, she walks to her small refrigerator and pulls out an aerosol can of whipped cream for the coffee. Followed by a recognition that aerosol cans are bad for the environment but she occasionally buys it for a treat for her nephew. Then she asks how the U.S. could be so ignorant about environmental issues and asks what is going on with President Bush and Iraq. Of course this last point came up with every conversation in Slovakia; they are frightened about the craziness of the current administration....and of course, we agreed."

Linda was my mainstay during the Gulf War, and was probably the first person to show me how to control my anger and frustration and re-direct it into research and writing. Maybe intellectualizing my emotions isn't always the healthiest option--maybe I should just accept that I feel bad or good and let it go at that--but I still appreciate the fact that she gave me a lot of tools to cope with an increasingly fucked up world (how's that for academic language?). So what if she's the world's worst correspondent?

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