Well, this semester is almost over. I am frazzled and worn out. I fought my emotions Sunday night to avoid going into a depression over returning to work. That’s right, I am officially calling this position work. I have always looked at my academic career and exploits as enjoyable and fun, even when I had a tremendous amount of work to do. However, now, I feel the strain.
My wife and I had a long talk about both our experiences in teaching. I have had the benefit of teaching at a quality university so I know that what I am experiencing here is not the norm but an aberration. This is her first teaching assignment as she changed careers from being an accountant. She is also teaching middle schoolers math (6th, 7th and 8th graders). She teaches remedial students so they also have many other problems that they bring to the classroom.
So as you can imagine we are both dissatisfied and are seeking a remedy. As a naive college student and then young man in graduate school I was heavy into community service and trying to make a difference. However, I was burned too many times by the very people that I tried to help. As a professor I want to work with people who are motivated, inspired and are willing to do what it takes to succeed in life. I am not witnessing that from the students I teach and I don’t think the college is interested in attracting those types of students. I find that I am in the very situation I wanted to avoid.
One thing we have learned from this experience is that in our future endeavors we will not open ourselves up for the possibility for anything below our standards any more. I applied for this job and even though many things were misrepresented it is ultimately my fault. I knew that out of all of the skills I had acquired in my graduate career, the subject that I am teaching now, I like the least and it doesn’t challenge me. I have been looking elsewhere and I am applying only to places that have the salary requirements, job description and standards for students that are in line with my standards. We are also only considering areas where we want to live.
We refuse to accept anything less.
The semester is almost over and all the heavy lifting is done. Last Thursday I was irritated that I didn’t have my normal day of reflection and goal setting on my birthday. Then early registration duties chained me to the school Friday, Monday and Tuesday even though students started to leave the college for their hometowns early last week. I only had one person come in for early registration and that was on Friday.
I still don’t understand why we are personally registering the students and why there is no online or at least telephone registration for the college.
But now I’m off until next Monday and I’m enjoying not having to deal with anything….
Going to Jiu-jitsu class these past few days has really opened my eyes to my progress. The past three times I have gone the huge guy (Big Man) I am always paired with has not been present. It is not that I do not want him there, but it has allowed me to work on some other aspects of grappling. Further, I have noticed that my bottom game has become a little bit more technical since I couldn’t rely on strength when wrestling Big Man.
Another benefit of wrestling with Big Man is that I feel like I am in an anti-gravity chamber when I am rolling with other guys. It may also be a curse because the lack of pressure on my chest and the lack of panic sensations I would get when I could feel the air slowly leaving my lungs, may lessen my alertness when someone achieves a side-mount of mounted position. Although, when grappling with the head instructor, I had to resist the urge to bench press him off of me when he temporarily blocked my access to air while working for position. I was able to secure a technical return to guard. I guess the ‘flashbacks” from wrestling with Big Man will keep me alert.
My judo skills (green belt) still holds me in good stead in class. The second in command instructor told me I should start sharing with the guys what I know. I was also beginning to get embarrased over how they were commenting on my, what I consider, basic judo ability. However, to the non-initiated in Judo, stopping take downs is very difficult. My reasoning is that most people expect a takedown to be a one-shot, one dimensional deal. In Judo, a takedown can be a simple hip throw or leg sweep, but a Judoka expects that so when they practice with other Judoka they often have to use combinations. When I grapple with my Jiu-jitsu brethren or wrestlers they often expect my first action to be a failed attempt when it is often a set-up to make them react. Just as Jiu-jitsu is chess on the ground, I think of Judo as chess standing up. As a former Judo guy I try to think two to three steps ahead…..
Now if I could just apply this to my ground game.
When I was a doctoral student, I used to cancel classes on my birthday. For years I have used my birthday as a time for reflection and to plan for the upcoming year. However, this year as a new assistant professor and not wanting to make waves for myself, I didn’t do it. I did, however, schedule the classes on this day as one where they turn in an assignment and leave. Although I am here, I am trying to make the day as less stressful as possible.
My office hours begin at 12:30PM and I teach a class that ends at 12 noon. Therefore, I have less than 30 minutes to eat lunch. I usually close my door and try to ‘wolf’ down some food before students start to drop by.
Well today at 12:10 I had my door closed and then a loud knock interrupts my microwave feast. I pause for a second and then I say come in. In walks this older guy dressed in plaid and khakis who proceeds to say that he thought no one was in my office. So why knock is my thought. He then tells me that he’s a book buyer and did I have any books that I wanted to sell.
He sees my food and drink spread out over my desk and I’m pretty sure he could see my look of pure puzzlement and lack of interest.
He asks, “Have you sold back any books here before?” I should have thought carefully before I said no. “Well then let me tell you what I’m all about.”
Two minutes later and he’s finishing by saying,” Well I’m retired military and I live in unnecessary city info here.”
Okay I say, while saying to myself, alright he sees that I’m eating. I hope he doesn’t try to shake my…..
You guessed it, he extends his hand over my desk so we can grip knuckles. I didn’t appreciate the firmness of his handshake either.
You can tell I’m a little irritated by this and it seemed pretty random. Why did he choose my door and I ended up with the grand prize during lunch?
Well, things were back to normal today. It felt as if I never left. We worked on escapes from the mount and breaking down the turtle defense. What fascinates me is that our lead instructor always seems to present something new. I received good training before when I trained in Florida but this is at a totally different level.
I was rolling with a guy in class and as anyone who has grappled knows, there’s a certain etiquette that’s followed. Well in our first scramble his foot hit my head and then we stopped and he apologized. That set the tone. The we sparred for a few more seconds and as fate would have it our heads bumped together when we both decided to go for a takedown (we were both kneeling) at the same time. I stopped for a brief moment to assess his damages and to see if he was okay. In that brief second or millisecond, he jumped onto my back and I spent the next two minutes fighting off a rear naked choke. I wasn’t upset but I think our signals were crossed. I don’t think he meant anything by it but I wonder why he thought I paused and would open myself up for him to jump on my back?
My wife and I had the chance to go out and spend some quality time together yesterday. I found a pub near our house that allows you to ‘shoot’ pool for free. So we bought dinner and played billiards for an hour or so. My wife grew up with a pool table in her house (or garage) so she has this thing where she allows you to make a few shots to build up your ego and then she starts sinking shots faster than Zsa Zsa Gabor in an episode of Green Acres.
We had a good time though!
Oh yeah. While we were playing, a teenage girl, walked over to my wife, put her arm around her shoulder and said,”I know you are concentrating on your game, but I have to tell you that those jeans that you have on are stupid cute!”