Rubric’s Cube, II

If I’m not interested in teaching college English as a long term goal, then why do it? Ironically, I find my several semesters of being in the classroom something of value, especially as I’ve been getting my act together. Yes, I used the past progressive, not the passive voice in past tense. I have been working on being a better teacher, but I am also working on skills that will help me in my new career path.

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Year of the Ox: Welcome to 4706

Late Happy Chinese New Year’s from ShindoTV.

It’s always nice to note the passing of the Chinese New Year. For me, this often feels more like the time of renewal than January 1 mainly because the Gregorian New Year’s still within the Twelve Days of Christmas, and Chinese New Year’s almost a month removed from it. I’ve also been working on a variety of habit changes closer to Sunday as well.

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So Hard

In following up with one of Wednesday’s posts, “You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk,” I’ve thought about some of the issues, such as even posting some detail what happened. I’ve tried to protect the innocent/guilty with omitting the name and any more incriminating details. That part’s always a challenge and even then, readers figure it out. It’s definitely the case with one professor from my graduate school who once posted on the drunken antics of one her colleagues, though a second-hand narrative from her students. She omitted the name, but anyone acquainted with the university’s English Department could figure it out who this guy was.

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You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk

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I’ve been writing about paper forms of communication in several of my recent posts, but technological forms of communication are still an urgent issue. One of the most commonly used technology is the telephone in its various incarnations over the past one and half centuries. It’s also among the most commonly abused.

Disclaimer: The numbers displayed in the image above do not belong to any of my friends. 1/14/08, 11:00am.

Drunk phone calls are always fun to get. Actually, they’re not. One of the most dangerous things about mobile phones, especially in the hands of the inebriated, is the ease of getting a hold of people and having no qualms about harassing them. Even better yet is when they leave those messages on the voicemail system that they’ll have no memory of, yet are all too painful for the recipients.

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Walk Anywhere, Anytime

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Moleskine and rollerball pen in hand to jot down those thoughts.

Walking around is a lot like writing. It doesn’t cost much, but it’s easy to get hung up on the venue. Some places are utterly fabulous like Downtown San Diego or the interlocking wheels of Washington D.C., where a stroll can yield infinite possibilities. One can walk past the various points of interest as the background or even make a stop. Then there are the great outdoors, which offers beauty in many great varieties. The hike or the walkabout in these settings are part of the experience – they are sources of pleasure as well as material for discussion. But what about the places that aren’t so idyllic?

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The Year of the Write

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I took this iPhone screenshot at 8:09pm for the visual pun.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s entry, I want to stop procrastinating. It is my goal for this year, even if I might not cut out all of my bad habits. The idea is to start.

One manifestation of living on Procrastination Street is writer’s block. It is easy to put off writing because the rewards aren’t so immediate. Twittering my time away or posting witticisms on Facebook get more response, but those sentences are sent out on the quick and don’t take much process to make it into a story or a poem that expresses an idea.

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Happy New Year’s from ShindoTV!

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It’s a new year, and hopefully a fresh start (of sorts). I’ve got my health, I’ve got work, but no telling how long either’s going to last with the economic downturn carried over from last year. However, that’s as much pessimism I’ll commit to text.

This year, I would like to deal with procrastination, which is the core of many new year’s resolutions. I could name all my goals, but it all boils down to this issue. I’ve always put things off, and it’s a miracle that I’ve even finished high school, especially in my senior year. When I was in college, activities such as cramming for exams and last-minute term papers were such time honored traditions that I kind of felt normal. In graduate school, I found that such behavior almost killed me.

When I was in my first year of the MFA program, I took an incomplete in a lit seminar on the condition I’d eventually turn in my paper. Of course, one has a year to fulfill the incomplete, so this essay I was supposed to write was a monkey on my back. I thought about it every day and I kept putting it off until I absolutely had to write it and turn it in, which was in the last few days it was due. Needless to say, I would not ever do it again.

But, I do stuff like that paper all the time in my life. I let clutter pile up until it’s unbearable, I put off grading papers or making lesson plans until the last possible hour, I intended to go to the gym and not gone, and I keep meaning to get myself into a writing routine. I then hate myself for not following through on these things.

So, I think you get an idea of what I want to get done. However, dealing with procrastination is the start of breaking a multitude of bad habits, even if they don’t all go away in 2009.

With that said, “Happy New Year’s.” I hope you find a fresh start this year as well.

Bohemian Like You

I couldn’t resist the allusion to the Dandy Warhols in the title. I came across Jonathan Rauch’s “Caring for your Introvert” (Atlantic Monthly) through Brian’s entry on this article, so “Bohemian Like You” only seems appropriate.

Hi, I’m Shin and I’m an introvert. While I’m not aggressively antisocial, I find people best at small doses, whether they’re family, friends, lovers, or acquaintances.

It’s nice to know that introversion is an orientation, but this culture is run by extroverts who don’t understand people like me at all. People like me, however, have had plenty of time to observe them.

Given a choice between living with others or by myself, I will live alone. I am willing to pay a little more for this whenever possible. On the surface level with roommates, there’s a lot of bullshit I’d rather not deal with: messiness, personal tastes, sharing things, and bathrooms to name a few things. The bottom line, however, is that I can find other people intrusive in my home, especially if they are the type who thrive on company. I want to be left alone so I can read, write, watch my TV shows, or surf the net. Then, there are all the things I would rather do when no one is around, like have a footbath and give myself a pedicure.

I’m fond of daydreaming and conceiving characters, milieus, and stories in my mind. I’m happiest when I can get lost in my imagination and write or draw pictures. I wish I had more time to do this.

I find it interesting that Rauch says, “We tend to think before talking, whereas extroverts tend to think by talking, which is why their meetings never last less than six hours.” I typically think before saying something. I often feel like I’m editing my sentences in my head so I can coherently say something, and the delivery can be awkward at times. Though I have my moments of quick, witty remarks, I am often not good with the quick response. Answering people and participating in small talk are things that feel laborious to me. As an introvert, I have had the opportunity to observe extroverts, and they often talk about nothing most of the time. Often, when I’ve had conversations with people (especially an assertive extrovert), I find their responses lacking. In other words, I don’t think they’re listening, despite that they may be quicker and more confident in what they say. When someone listens, I’m truly impressed.

There’s nowhere where this becomes apparent more than parties. As much as I enjoy going to parties, participating in banter can be awkward. Some people “hold court” while people like me try to figure out how to get a word in edgewise. I guess I haven’t mastered the extrovert’s ability to detect the pause in conversation and quickly jump in.

Of course, parties are events where I don’t like to stay for long. Long enough to make an appearance, but short enough to limit my interactions with people. The issue is similar to what I encounter in teaching.

I often feel being an introvert is an occupational hazard. Teaching is an activity where I must interact with a group of people, and I find it tiresome. Even though I may spend one hour (minimum) per session with a group of students, I feel I need to unwind afterwards. Late afternoon and evening courses work the best for me, as I can go home and easily unwind in several different ways – TV, Internet, reading, music, or a nightcap. In my ideal schedule, I can easily take care of prep work and grading in the daytime, teach at night, and have my dose of solitude and unwinding after class. However, I often take classes I can get, so I teach some courses in the morning and the afternoon, which ruins me for the entire day.

Yes, teaching can make me feel like a whore. I could easily point to how I’d rather write or do art, but any job is whoredom in that case. Even though I am one of the nicest people in the world and am capable of friendliness, I really am not a people person. I am not fond of being emotionally or psychologically promiscuous. I prefer to interact with a few people than many. Given that, I don’t hate teaching. I enjoy it, especially when I have those teaching moments (those unexpected lessons that come up).

Overall, it is a matter of caring for my introvert. Part of it is managing my time so I can unwind from lessons and even to set aside time where I can sit down and prepare (and feel good about it). Another part is being able to say no to friends like Mr. Pushy, who thrives on dragging me along to adventures in crowded places. I’ll probably post more about being in introvert in the future, but thanks for tuning in.

The Clutter Is Gone!

This weekend, I got rid of much of my clutter. I’ve been trying to clear my clutter for a long time, but a lot of it is gone. I’m not a 100% neat freak now (I don’t think I could ever be), but I can breathe a sigh of relief that I’m not holding on to items I wouldn’t miss if a fire burned down my home. I’ve been getting rid of items here and there: I don’t have my CD’s anymore (I donated those a month ago to Goodwill), and I donated 60% of my book inventory to another charity.

It’s weird how people telling you to deal with clutter can have no effect. There is shame, as friends and family could make you ashamed of your clutter, but that’s not enough to inspire action. A year ago, when my mother stopped by my apartment to drop some things off, she had to go to the bathroom. Normally, she wouldn’t even step inside since the place was often a nightmare, but she urgently had to go to bathroom and went in. I was mortified, but that didn’t prompt any change. Over the years, she has gotten on my case about my messiness, and still no effect. Until now.

This time, my mother shoved a book into my hands. This is not her style, but she read a book on the clutter issue in Japanese, and found the English edition for me. So here is where I plug the book: Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui by Karen Kingston.

I’ve never gotten into Feng Shui, but a lot of what she says about the clutter issue is spot on. In fact, much of what she says about messiness and accumulating things is common sense and it almost begs the question of if the book is really necessary. However, what I learned isn’t so much new as it is motivation and insight. I’m still not into Feng Shui, but at least the book helped me get rid of much of the stuff I’ve been holding on to for too long.

If only I took care of this sooner than later. How many times have I turned friends away because my place was a disaster? I’ve lost a friendship over clutter, but I now know the clutter wasn’t the true cause of the falling out, but other unresolved issues. The physical clutter only exacerbated the emotional in this case.

I know I’m not the only one clearing out the clutter. Joshua Minton has been clearing out stuff he, his wife, and son have accumulated over the years, and he has a picture of the dumpster to prove it. In his case, interestingly, the stuff wasn’t willing to let him go as much as he was. Read and see how freaky that is! Josh, I hope you inspire others to get rid of their crap!

I don’t have pictures of a dumpster, but I will show you one casualty of my clutter: my favorite shirt. My clutter problem has not been limited to my living space and car, but also my pockets. I would often leave pens in my trouser pockets and forget about them, resulting in some ink stained clothes emerging from the laundry. Some have been easier to rehabilitate than others. The last load where this happened was absolutely hopeless, so I threw them out, including this shirt.
This is just one of several ink stains that made made the shirt unwearable. I’ve had the shirt for a few years, and I loved the pattern, but the pen getting uncapped in the wash forced the issue of it going bye bye. Plus, fall season is around the corner and the sales will be a perfect opportunity to find fabulous replacements.

I also got rid of some trousers I’ve been holding on to as “skinny pants.” A few years ago, I lost some weight, went down a few pant sizes, and bought pants that fit and looked great. Unfortunately, I’ve gained that weight back, so these remained in my closet as my “skinny pants” for when I drop the pounds. Kingston’s book reinforced the idea it isn’t good to hold on to tight clothes, and the best way to deal with it is to get pants that fit when I lose the weight.

For the past year, I’ve been holding on to five DVD’s in my Netflix subscription. I checked them out last August, and I’ve only watched only one of them. I can’t believe I’ve spent all that money to hold on to those DVD’s when I could have bought them, plus some. I only had one return envelope, so I mailed two of them back to Netflix, cleared out my queue from 300+ to only forty movies I really want to watch. Now, I get to see Strangers with Candy (the movie) and some Kids in the Hall Episodes. As for the Floating Weeds? Let them float, far, far away from me.

I feel much better now. I’ve been less motivated to turn the boob tube on (unless it’s Eureka or Monday night Enterprise re-runs). I spent more hours watching TV before because it was a distraction from the clutter. Now things are off the floor, not taking up too much space in my closet or my life. I still have a good number of books that need reading, some DVD’s and VHS tapes should be watched, and a few items to return to people. With less clutter in my life, I can focus on important things such as lesson plans, teaching, and writing.

It’s A Wrap!

The summer school session at the community college is over (for me, anways)! The course load was concentrated, but so are the paychecks. There were so many early mornings where the students and I were so not awake, but we made it.

Most of my students did well. I had those few students who wrote well at the freshman level and who intelligently chimed in to the class discussions. It was nice to see one student in particular get excited about the material covered in class.

However, I am concerned about a few, especially their future as college students. All one student did was go to sleep in the back of the classroom. I don’t think he ever participated in class or showed any embarrassment when I had to wake him up in an attempt to involve him in the class discussion. Interestingly enough, he was worried about his grade towards the end. I have yet to receive a term paper from another student, despite her promise to send it to me ASAP.

I have until next Thursday to turn in grades, most of which I already have done.

I learned a few lessons this summer, much of it reinforcement from previous lessons:

  1. Never get behind. Grade those papers the day I get them. In fact, I should grade them after class or when I get home from work that day. Also, be on point with the lessons and not play catch up on lesson plans.
  2. Don’t accept late work. I am not doing this to be a meanie, but it is a nightmare to backtrack, try to look at an assignment when the class and I have moved on to something else.
  3. Take care of myself. If I manage my time right, I get my work done, get some exercise, take care of what life asks of me, and get the rest I need in order to function for all of the above.
  4. Remember that it’s only a job. I should do it well (most excellently), but no job is worth taking over my life.

Next week, I go back to the language school for a couple of weeks. I am substituting for an instructor’s advanced level course and I got to meet the students this morning. They seem like a nice bunch of students, but the instructor told me it’s difficult to get them to do homework. Each group is different. They are mine next Monday.

I also got to see some familiar faces, such as Julius (Joo Seung AKA Ju Ju) and a few others. Perhaps once again, there’ll be a picture of me diagramming sentences.