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Monday, December 18, 2006

A slightly nuerotic rant about grades and Cameron Diaz

Are you ready for it? Here comes a ramble.

I have just finished my grades for the semester. Its official, the holidays can begin. It was a fairly good semester. Although, as I was calculating my students' grades I kept thinking, "What am I doing? I'm not a real teacher." Maybe these "not-a-real-teacher" thoughts will go away the more comfortable I get with assigning grades to students' work.

When you think about it, grades are ridiculous. The idea that you can qualify some one's talent, work, and effort astonishes me. It has no bearing on reality, but these poor students live their lives based on what "grade" they're getting. They rely on that little letter to tell them something about who they are. Anyway, I've now turned my students into letters and sent them off to the registrar's office.

Even though I've felt like a fake teacher most of the semester, I've had a lot of fun. There are nice things, like the notes a few of my students slipped me as they walked away from the final. One girl said she'd added English as a minor because of my class. Another guy said he didn't know writing could be so much fun. These things are rewarding, but then I also remember the annoyed look on four of my students' faces. They dismissed me when I tried to talk to them about thesis, transitions, and MLA formatting. The funny thing is, in college, I know I was one of the latter, not the former, students.

So here we are at the end of the semester and I am ready to kick back and slouch through the holidays. I plan on going to my parent's house, thinking about NOTHING, and watching romantic comedies for the next ten days. Really, this seems like cheating after coming from corporate life. Last Christmas I worked the week between Christmas and New Year's. Having all this time off, with no work to worry about is surreal, but I guess that's part of the joy of teaching - the holidays.

I watched "The Holiday" this Saturday, and I do not plan on giving you an in depth review. I will just say this: it was bad. I still had a good time, but Cameron Diaz was obnoxious, the story-line was disjointed, and the romance was really awkward.

I worry that I'm loosing my taste in movies. I'm worried what it says about me that I'd rather watch "Happy Feet" over "Apocalypto." I think this means that I'm turning into a mindless movie-goer. Although, after watching "The Holiday" I'm ready for someone to tell me a good story. Actors, and visual side-effects aside. I just want the characters to be believable, I want there to be a natural arc, and for the climax to rise and fall with authenticity.

However, I think I've forgotten what the rise and fall of a climax should look like, especially in my writing. Really I think I've forgotten how to write. I just got rejected for a second time from the Rock & Sling. Bellingham Review said "no" this week too. Suddenly I look at my work and think, "Holy Cow? Is this really bad?" I can't tell what's good anymore. I'm plagued by a mild panic that I've somehow lost my edge since getting my degree. I mean just look what my blog has degenerated to. Silly posts with ramblings about grades and Cameron Diaz.


Anonymous Erik said...

A good movie? The Pursuit of Happyness. Amazing. Gut wrenching at times.

I'd pick Happy Feet over Apocalypto too.

5:06 PM  
Blogger ap said...

i don't consider myself a movie connoisseur (and i only spelled connoisseur right because of spellchecker--which, ironically, isn't a word it recognizes), but i liked The Holiday. i thought its story completely unbelievable, but coherent and touching. plus, JACK BLACK. he just makes me laugh for no reason sometimes. i also thought The Holiday had some surprises and charm.

i totally identify with you feeling like you are losing your edge. i read stuff i wrote in seminary and think, "wow, that's alot better than what i am now writing!" how did i get so bad so fast? answer: no one is putting a little letter on it. ;)

9:14 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Erik, thanks for the suggestion. I've heard alot of great things about that movie. Another movie I want to see is "Night at the Museum." See what I mean?!

AP, Jack Black is hilarious. I will agree, BUT his romance scenes were the most awkward for me. It was so painful watching him try to be suave! I just wanted to groan. He did however, loosen up by the end of the movie.

I love your explanation about why we've gotten bad so quickly! So maybe there is merit to those little letters...

11:27 PM  
Blogger Christin said...

Ap, or maybe it's blogging that's killed of our edge. This fast food style of writing. It's immediate gratification: seeing our little 200 word posts up and running instantly, and ready for an audience.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Jack Black said...

You didn't like my scenes?

Actually, it's AP and I have the same fear re: blogging.

7:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read my review of The Holiday? I'm glad someone else saw the same movie I did. :)

Romantic Comedies // (some) Christmasy (ones):

1. Love Actually - 10
2. The Family Man - 6
3. Serendipity - 6
4. As Good As It Gets - 9
5. Sleepless in Seattle - 7
6. While You Were Sleeping - 7
7. Groundhog Day - 7
8. Little Manhattan - 7
9. Keeping The Faith - 6
10. The Story of Us - 8

Merry Christmas!! :)

7:33 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Hey Josh, I saw your post and thought it was a very apt review! I know, I felt a little bit better about watching this movie after I saw that you had watched it too.;-) Thanks for the list! I will dive in this weekend. As Good As It Gets and The Story of Us look good.

Merry Christmas to you too!

10:53 PM  
Blogger ernie and Joy said...


I love your silly posts and ramblings.

It's natural to feel that you're not a "real" teacher. The fact that several kids were inspired says that you have a talent for it.


9:27 AM  
Blogger Christin said...

Ernie, I have to say, every conversation I had with a teacher this semester (ours included), taught me something! Thank you so much for your advice and help.

3:38 PM  

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