"I think I'm going to like it here!"
These are the words I say frequently to Joe. It's not that I'm trying to convince myself that I'm going to love Tempe -- I already do. It's simply because each day meets me with a new and delightful surprise. I keep waiting for Tempe to let me down, but it just can't.
I stepped in front of my first non-Idaho State University classroom yesterday morning, bright and early, at 7:30 AM. In my hurry to leave the house on time (relying on public transportation for the first time in my life) I forgot my cell phone. Of course, it just so happened that my classroom was locked ten minutes before class started, and the number for Classroom Support was on that phone. A quick jog across the path to the Writing Programs office in the next building solved my dilemma, and I stepped into GIOS 202 at 7:29 AM. I was met by thirty-eight eager and slightly trepidatious eyes. Since yesterday was the start of classes at ASU, for all but two of my students, my class was their first ever college course. It was exciting, but also brought the pressure to make sure that composition was something spectacular -- no easy deed at 7:30 AM after three blocks of walking in the hot, muggy AZ morning. I did my damndest, though, and we had a good time. I was pleasantly shocked by the diversity of my students' interests when it comes to matters of entertainment! (My icebreaker involves each student telling the class his/her favorite movie.) They laughed when they were supposed to, seemed comfortable contributing to the overall discussion, and seemed genuinely excited to begin engaging with our topic at hand. (We'll see how excited they are when the first paper comes due...)
Essentially, I feel like I'm back in the swing of things. Of course, "the swing of things" means homework and grading. Lots of homework and grading. After the summer TA orientation, new TAs are required to take a seminar which focuses on pedagogical theory and helps prepare them to teach two sections of 102 in the spring. (Yay...Peter Elbow.) My Shakespearean Fetishes class promises to be interesting, and the reading list for it represents easily the most hard literary "theory" I've had to digest since my first semester of my MA. (Derrida, Freud, etc.)
While being back in the academic saddle feels familiar and comfortable, this is not to say that I haven't had my anxieties. These anxieties seem to manifest primarily as odd, but tackily transparent dreams/nightmares. I was concerned that I might sleep through my first day of teaching since the class was so early and I've taken to wearing earplugs in our new airport-adjacent apartment when I sleep. Hence, I dreamed that I did in fact sleep through class, and was subjected to a public shaming in front of the department by my mentors. In the wake of beginning my first week's reading assignment for my Shakespearean Fetishes class, I dreamed that I was frantically trying to write a response to a prompt for the class, desperately trying to use all my Renaissance education to deconstruct The Jerk -- the Steve Martin classic. My attempts were consistently interrupted by Joe's desire to drive all the way back to Idaho in order to purchase meat-flavored, chocolate-covered bubblegum. Upon returning back to Arizona after one such confectionary roadtrip, I realized that my Renaissance learning would probably be more fruitfully applied to a Renaissance text. After that, all was well.