Never a dull moment.

I have started no fewer than four entries on here recently and finished not a one of them.  School has been interesting lately.  Interesting.  What a nice bland word.

School has been tortuous interspersed with moments of euphoria.  I had a paper due the first morning back after spring break.  I wrote it the night before, naturally.  I was really, really proud of that paper.  I wrote about Wallace Stegner.  There’s a post about him below this one, but essentially I feel that Wallace Stegner writes essays that feel the very same as some of the poetry I read.  A talented poet I feel has a sense of self that goes very deep.  Stegner has that.  He writes essays about what makes people identify themselves with certain places.  One essay of his in particular helped me quite a bit with my paper, and provided me with some answers to questions I didn’t know I had.  If you read it you will become a slightly better person than you are now.

Then Wednesday this week also qualified as interesting.  Had a presentation that night which I agonized over probably a little too much.  I didn’t begin developing my ideas for the presentation until the night before as is typical of me.  I really wasn’t done with organizing all my thoughts and my Powerpoint before bed Tuesday night, and then Wednesday I had students I had to meet with all day long, and those meetings only concluded a couple hours before I was to give my presentation.  Then I set about putting finishing touches on it.  I was rushed, moving as fast as I could but focused the whole time.  I gave my presentation as soon as I could once my night class started and I was pleased enough with how it went.

I had some interesting student conferences too.  I tried to listen, really listen, to what they had to say and help them craft a convincing argument that they wanted to write.  Some of the conferences went quickly and felt a little formulaic.  That’s not to suggest that they weren’t productive.  One conference though in particular felt a little strange.  I have a student who wants to write a paper about the development of ethanol gasoline and why we should do away with it.  In the first paper students were supposed to write what the different view points were surrounding a particular debate in public discourse.  The second bigger paper of the semester is where students take up a particular side from the argument in their first paper and try to write persuasively that their point of view is in fact the correct one.  The first ethanol gas paper came out never actually stating one redeeming fact about ethanol gas.  In talking with the student and reading their writing I have learned that the predominate reason for the existence of ethanol gas is its environmental benefits.  During our conference I asked how they intended to defeat counter arguments that the environmental benefits of ethanol gasoline mandated their use.  The student had no real answer to that, so I tried to provide a way for them to do that.  The truth is though that I don’t have an answer to that either.  At one point I believe I even said something to the effect, “You can probably find statistics from reputable sources that will tell you anything you want to believe.”  The whole thing left me feeling slightly slimy, and upon reflecting on it later I feel only slimier.  How does one really compose that argument and believe it?  How do you discount environmentalism or climate change and argue instead, “but ethanol gas is harder on engines.”  How do you do that?  How?

Wednesday was hard.  I did hard things, and after the day was over I felt really really really good.  Really good.  I like my job.  I like people and talking about things.


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