the life of richie


Posted in is by Rich on September 25, 2009

Rich updates his Facebook status in the morning: “Campus all day; in-service.” Dana likes this. Rich responds: “I’m having second thoughts; I’m thinking of ditching.” Dana: “you badass.” Rich: “I might go hang out down by the railroad tracks and throw pebbles at squirrels.” Dana: “so basically a typical friday.”

But he does not go down by the railroad tracks; and, no, he would never throw pebbles at squirrels. He goes to the in-service, he does. The in-service on assessment and “purposeful planning”, which is ironic because, were he not at the in-service on “purposeful planning” he would be home planning out his classes for next week. Purposefully.

The Dean of Assessment, who is like a cross between Betty White and Hitler, insists that we always ask ourselves as teachers, “Can you put a percentage on it?” Everything we do here is meaningless if we can’t quantify, is the implication, the edict. We are given samples of curriculum mapping. Rich wants to ask if they can all agree to call this pedagogical cartography instead; he has always wanted to be a cartographer, and so it would make the day more romantic for him if they could. He is then distracted by thinking about truth tables; he would like to sit home at night writing up truth tables; he would like to post an ad on Craigslist: “Seeking attractive partner to truth table with.” His mother later tells him that he will never marry; that no one would ever be able to put up with him. He will be a bad Jane Austen novel, a cautionary tale, an old man bent over his truth tables, a truth-tabling spinster.

In the afternoon, another friend posts, “Anyone know anything about the Out in Atlantic City events this weekend?” and Rich responds, “I’m going to hear Mark Doty and his BF read at the O.C. Arts Center tonight!” He expects they will be more lovely than Lance Bass. But his friend does not respond.

The BF reads from his memoir about the shore, and coming down to the shore from Cherry Hill. Rich thinks about the David Sedaris essay he has assigned for his online Comp 1 classes this week; most of their responses to it were “it was nice”. Nice? (He considers outlawing the word nice for the remainder of term.) Then he thinks about the Chris Updike story he read with his Intro to Lit students in the spring, about a summer spent in a lake house falling in love. “Isn’t this what summer must be?” he had asked his students. “Didn’t we all spend our summers at the lake falling in love?” His students laughed, because this was none of their experiences. In the summers, they were sent to work on the boardwalk, making french fries for peanuts. But Rich would like to re-imagine his summer: lake/shore house, indolent days spent cultivating crushes like irises, misdeeds under the boardwalk and such. Instead it was mostly sweat and grease and escaping the throngs of vacationers into a congested bedroom (his parents did not subscribe to a.c.) and the realization that he was young and would never be young; that some of us are born old, perhaps. Proposition: Rich believes that youth is best lived in summer. Proposition: Rich was never young. We put these in the table. On the curriculum map, we would gauge if objectives are introduced, reinforced, and/or applied. Objective: youth is best lived in summer –– in summer, and at a lake house, would be –– nice. Suddenly, he imagines the two poets having sex, and feels horribly guilty that this porno has been switched on as he sits next to an older woman who has no idea what film has accidentally started in his head; as the words act like cool compresses on his brain.

“Can you put a percentage on it?”

Yes, it was –– well, it was –– in truth, better than ––