The Final Countdown

by malmskog

Late afternoon, rainy day in November.  My students just finished taking their second midterm exam.  On my desk: the usual Mason jar (my to go mug of choice) clutter, one knitting needle, two bulging file folders of ungraded tests, and a long list of application materials, e-mails, and travel arrangements to sort out.  But it’s Thursday, and tomorrow is my research day, so this is my big chance to write a little bit without it causing me to actually miss another deadline.  So–here’s the update.  We’re in the Final Countdown (cue lick from Europe song, (the ultimate late night math conference singalong)).  There are 5 more class sessions left in the fall semester and I am simultaneously relieved to see the end of the semester coming, sad that soon I won’t get to see these students any more, and really anxious to cover all of the important stuff.

I remember how this time of year felt when I was an undergraduate.  Final projects looming all over the place.  The idea that all of these projects and overdue homework assignments will be easily handled during Thanksgiving break.  The reality that I never started any of them until the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Then I would stay up late for the next two weeks to work on everything.  Then I would get a bad cold, just like everyone else on campus.

The plague has already taken hold here at Wesleyan.  Students are e-mailing to report that they’ll be missing class, homework will be late, they are too sick to move.  I would suspect these illnesses as being perhaps too convenient but, after seeing some of these students face to face, I just hope they don’t die.  Seriously, there were some miserable people taking the test today.  And what a goldmine for the viruses involved.  42 stress-weakened students in one tiny little room, stuck there for 80 minutes, too distracted by the task at hand to defend themselves.  I feel like some kind of procurer.  You’re welcome, cold viruses.  I’m sorry, students.  Hope you feel better soon.

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