I loved being in Louisville for the readings. We happened to be stationed in one location with the French lit/language readers and the statistics readers too. I never really spoke to the statistics readers, but I had a blast meeting some of the French readers. Most of them were Americans who had a passion for France, but I had this facinating hours-long conversation with one French woman who had moved here 30 yrs ago, giving up her country out of love for her husband. 30 years later, she facinated me by how French she remained in so many ways, yet how she had also adapted to the parts of America that appealed to her. She gave me this pep talk about learning French, too...she scolded me for being unwilling to try to say and prounounce words/phrases in conversation because that's the only way I'll learn (she's right). She told me how frustrated she was when she studied in England for a year at first because she was so scared to speak in English, even though she understood a lot, and when she finally decided "this is silly--I need to just speak," she made numerous embarrassing errors. But only through those errors did she become the fluent speaker that she is today. I could only hear a faint hint of her French accent. Her vocabulary and grammar were flawless. It was a message I need to hear a lot, I suppose.
The food sucked. Now, even though I can be quite picky about some foods due to my own explorations in the kitchen, on the whole I'm easy to please. Or at least, it's easy to get me to say that the food is "decent" at a minimum. But no--it SUCKED. I started skipping dinner even though it was free and eating fruit and pretzels instead because after breakfast and lunch, I couldn't face the cafeteria again. If they had kept me there for two months, I would have lost all the weight I needed to lose. My problem is that I love good food. But I hate bad food, and I will refuse to eat it even when on the edge of starvation, so all you have to do is make it so that the bad food options are all I get. That will never happen at home...
The AP English lit folks like to make 60% of us college teachers and 40% of us high school teachers. The high school teachers fight for the right to go grade and often wait years to get to go. Obviously, if they teach AP English, this experience can help them immensely as they prepare their kids for the exam. It's harder to convince college teachers to go, so I think that I'll be invited back next year. Even though I missed Alex and the kids like crazy, I liked hanging out with other literary geeks and enjoyed the experience on the whole. The grading pace was insane, and I'm glad I won't be looking at more student essays for the rest of the summer. Here's what I learned:
1) A disabled person is "handied cap."
2) George Orwell apparently wrote a sequel I never read entitled 1985
3) The Great Gatsby
is by Oscar Wilde, and the main female character is Ophelia
are easily mistaken for one another
5) When in doubt, make up a new word. My favorite was "dishoveled" (and apparently, from scanning the net, this is a popular new word--it creates an interesting mental image, so maybe we'll get that one in the dictionary one day! I think it's more interesting than "disheveled")
6) Students really just want to write on Moby Dick
so that they can have the opportunity to scribble out the phrase "sperm whale." Or, even better, "Giant Albino Sperm Whale."
7) We had one essay supposedly on The Death of a Salesman
that identified the title character as Stanley Lowman. One of my tablemates renamed the work Death of a Streetcar.
Then there were the funny sentences that amused us:
1) In reference to The Sun Also Rises
and the main character's inability to get it up, thereby causing problems in the relationship with the woman he loved: "Doesn't he have two hands and a mouth? There are many ways to pleasure a woman!"
2) "I don't know what syntax means; however, that won't stop me from trying to write about it."
3) In reference to The Scarlett Letter:
"Too bad Hester didn't live in New York City instead of Boston. No one would have cared there." (IE, about her adulterous affair)
4) "They were badly mistreated; in fact, they were killed." (I'm not sure killing is really THAT bad of a mistreatment....)
5) "Without a past, the future would be impossible" (no, really! ya think?)
6) "Past relationships have caused people to become bitter; high school has driven people insane."
7) About Faust: "The demonic pact was a bad call on Faustus's part, but he was old already."
Some of the essays were, as my table leader said, "mercifully brief," so when I said that I graded over 1000 essays, some of them were just a paragraph or two long (my question was the last one, so sometimes the students ran out of time). Then we occasionally had kids who didn't care about the exam who would draw pictures and write quirky stuff inside the book instead. So, it's not like it was 1000 essays of 6 pages, but damn it was still a lot!
Anyway, I am now glad to have my summer to myself. Life is good right now--for the first time in years, we're ok with money over the summer, and that relief is amazing. I'm used to surviving over the summer on a few thousand dollars less than we have available to us, but since Alex's internship is paid, we're doing ok. I stare at my checkbook and go, "Oh wow, there's still money in there!!!" What a nice feeling. I hope it continues!