A blog about life, language, writing, and other trivia.

Sunday, September 10, 2006


The new semester always seems to me like starting a bike ride from the house in Missouri where I grew up: things are pretty flat for about a mile, and then, around Weaver Rd.--aka, farm rd. 178--the hills kick in. At first, they aren't so bad--a few moderate undulations just to remind you that biking is an aerobic activity. But then come the real hills, the double-diamond asphalt monsters that, depending on which direction you're biking, either hurl you through space so fast that your face looks like Dennis Quaid's on the centrifuge in The Right Stuff or simply make you hate, hate, hate gravity. (When I rode this route literally instead of figuratively, I was 15 yrs. old and thought nothing of putting in 10, 15, or more miles in a day on my spiffy Schwinn 12-speed, but still the granddaddy of them all--the one known simply as the hill by Cari Noble's house--forced me to get off and walk once or twice. I hope Cari never saw me.)

As far as the semester goes, then, I've just pushed through the four-way stop at Scenic and Weaver, and I'm nearing the top of my first climb (the one where my dad got the Mercedes airborne and totalled it, presumably, I always thought, because he hated it and wanted to get back into a Lincoln): it's the beginning of the fourth week, and week three saw the first little signs that this ride might pose a challenge or two. The energy and the momentum I had built up in the flatland of the early weeks are both waning. Last week, it took me just a little longer to get readings and discussion forums posted to Blackboard, and it saw my first small planning hiccup when I forgot to double-check the syllabus for my "Teaching Grammar in Context" class and drafted a full-class lesson plan on a day we were supposed to be workshopping. It's also getting harder to squeeze in reading and outlining for the article I'm working on.

So, now I'm calling for the first time on my reserves, relying just a bit more on discipline and drive than on excitement and energy to get me into the office. But, here it is Sunday night, and I am in my office, and I do have my teaching week mapped out, and I did manage to devote some mental energy this weekend to my scholarship, with more sure to come this week.

It feels good to be on the back end of that first hill, small as it may have been. And it was good practice. After all, only two more hills (which should put us somewhere around midterm), and I'm at the one by Cari Noble's house. Here's hoping I won't be walking into Halloween.

(Update: Ok, so I'm both nearing the top of the first hill and on the back end of it. My literary prowess apparently doesn't extend to proofreading for conceit-related consistency.)


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