Monday, May 11, 2009

Finals Fiascos

It's finals time! Here's a final for blog readers:

1) You are giving a final at 8am on the first day of finals. The final is in two parts, with one part (on bright pink paper) being an open notes/open book essay and the other being closed notes/book short answers (on green paper). During the final, which of the following will happen?

(a) A student will use notes while writing the green part of the exam.
(b) A student will come in half-way through the exam, complaining loudly.
(c) Two students won't bring blue books.
(d) (a) and (c).
(e) (b) and (c).
(f) All of the above.

I've barely slept because I can't help thinking (and not just because I'm in grading jail). When my Dad died, I was sad, really sad. But somehow it didn't seem like the world had changed.

When a colleague died a couple years ago now, I was sad, but it didn't seem like the world had changed.

When my cousin's daughter died, I was sad, but it didn't seem like the world had changed.

But lately, I suddenly realized that more and more people I know and love will die, more all the time, and many younger than I can imagine. I'm feeling rather maudlin about this, though I know it was true even though I hadn't figured it out before. And yes, I probably should have figured this out some years ago, but I guess I'm slow that way.

I think it's time for another mid-life crisis. (I have had two mid-life crises so far; the first I bought a leather jacket and went for a parachute jump. The second I bought my bike. I'm guessing this one is going to involve some trees for my yard or something, but I'm open to ideas!)

Sometimes, my own idiocy is apparent to me in startling ways, though I'm sure most everyone else sees it all the time and wonders how it is I can manage to feed myself regularly and do the laundry.


  1. Congrats on making the 100 awesome blogs list!

  2. (f) all of the above.

    And in terms of mortality: I think it's one of those things that we suddenly know viscerally in a new way at some point. Not because we're stupid before, but we're just sitting in a different place.

    I like the idea of planting some trees as part of this mid-life crisis!

  3. Gardening/landscaping/planting trees can be very therapeutic. Getting your hands in the dirt and helping something grow can feel mighty good.

  4. all of the above, re finals.

    i think there are times when the losses just reach critical mass -- and also, some losses might hit us unexpectedly hard, and make us think think think. thinking is good, and so is planting, and they are not incompatible.

  5. we don't have very good models of grieving or reflection in our society. you might get 3 days bereavement leave for a close relative, for example, and then everyone thinks you should be over it. maybe that kind of works a lot of the time as a leave policy, but i think it stinks from the perspective of dealing with the deep questions and memories and reflection and reconciliation that sometimes comes with loss.

  6. The mortality thing is getting to me this year, too. Either we'll die or we'll go on outliving people, & both become more likely every year, & neither is really appealing.