That Callus on My Right Middle Finger is a Shade of Red Constantly

First there was Spring Break. It was followed by a school week full of assemblies and the Kuhio Day Holiday. Then came our four-day Easter weekend. It’s been difficult for me to get into any kind of rhythm in my classroom. The thing that has suffered the most, of course, is my grading. There’s been a lot of stuff going on. The MLB season started, which means fantasy baseball started. There have been a number of birthday celebrations. Also, planning for our California trip (still two months away) has taken a hold of my mind and has refused to let go. Neo saw things in the Matrix. I see things in theme parks, baseball games, and internet searches for the best prices on everything.

May 9th. It's going down.

May 9th. It’s going down.

First and foremost among my professional responsibilities is preparing my Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition class for the exam which will take place on May 9th. Since I am a procrastinator at heart, my first instinct is to utter those famous words “Plenty time!” loudly and proudly, but yeah, no, we have slightly less than a month until the truth.

Each year I have t-shirts made for my AP class to wear on the day of the test. I try to incorporate any number of ideas and concepts into the design of the shirt, so long as they don’t qualify as cheating. Believe me, I have considered the idea of making a shirt like this:

That just about covers everything.

That just about covers everything.

and simply printing the text upside down so they could read it during the test, but something tells me the College Board might frown upon such tomfoolery. Last school year I had an unusual assortment of personalities in the class so we were able to select an different image for each person, then just throw them on the shirt. This year, though, I have to admit that the class – outside of a few clowns – is much more reserved. As such, the class has agreed upon this single image in purple on white as the design. It’s a long story, but it obviously has something to do with someone punching someone else in the neck. It happens, as I understand.

This is what it takes.

This is what it takes.

Aside from AP on the front burner, I’ve got the usual assortment of grading to do. Right now, I have 35 Hamlet essays, 19 Macbeth essays, and a few sections of quizzes to grade. It’s pretty overwhelming, to be honest. I’ll have another set of 15 essays after my AP class today, and it doesn’t get better until June, really.

Since looking at everything in totality is both intimidating and depressing, I’ve devised the following system: I will grade 5 Hamlet essays, 5 Macbeth essays, and a section of quizzes each day, then end my session with printing out my stuff for the next day’s class. If I can function at all at the end of that, I will do whatever more I can on top of it. It’s probably not terribly efficient, but it’s the only way I can think of doing it that will allow me to maintain some semblance of sanity.

I’ve also been hiding the essays I’ve graded in two separate draws to protect against my own cluttered mind and work space. It’s like a graded-essay piggy bank. It’s stupid, but it’s also depressing. So it’s got that going for it.

“Um… I don’t know how much I’m going to see you guys Monday-Thursday,” I told Lynnette last night. “I know,” she said. “It’s crunch time,” I said. “I know,” she said. She means it, too. She’s seen me kill myself in the spring enough times to know that it’s going to be a rough couple of months, at least until the AP Exam. I have also spoken to Madison about what’s going to happen next. “Mad, I have a lot of grading to do, so I won’t be home a lot during the week,” I said. “Why?” she said. My first instinct was to go to the time-tested well of humor and sarcasm, but I caught myself. “Because that’s what I have to do for my job,” I said. “I’m going to miss you,” she said. “I know, I’m going to miss you, too.” It was somber for a moment. “But,” I said. “I still have your picture in my classroom. When I miss you a lot, I’ll look at it,” I said. “Oh! You know I painted another picture today in class!” Somber over. Thank God I have such an understanding wife and cheery daughter. What I really need, though, is clones of myself. Or that automatic essay grading machine. We don’t need another study linking soda to depression, scientists! We need cloning and automatic grading machines! Get on it.

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