06 March, 2014


I'm perhaps 30 minutes from leaving for an ophthalmology appointment in which I anticipate needles shot into my eyelids (well, fluids shot into my eyelids via needles) and my eyelids peeled open and held that way by clamps while an extremely nice doctor stabs sharp things into said lids. This is all a very dramatic way to drain chalazia that have overstayed their welcome and begun interfering with my vision. This has also happened before, usually around periods of stress, and only ever in the right eye. The last couple of months have been delightfully stressful about those things which rate highest on the stress tests (at least in first world countries, where it is assumed you will not be facing bullets or starvation), and lo! the eyelid has responded. 

I had to semi-bully my way into an appointment; evidently the last almost 4 years, in which I have not needed such services, should require my physician (who has seen me exactly once, ever, because other visits are handled by PAs and other relevant specialists) to refer me to the ophthalmologist who I have seen for this on two other occasions. Not that my doctor would have to see me to do so, necessarily, but she'd have to generate the appropriate email and add another 24 hours to the process. I objected to this rather...vehemently. When it takes me 10 minutes to get my eye open in the morning because of the swelling (which goes down, once I'm upright) and I can feel the pressure of the lumps on my cornea when my eye is closed, well, guess what? I don't need any more delays. (And this is with a single-payer HMO, mind you. It's easier here than with most HMOs to see a specialist.) 

The procedure itself is also a source of great stress, which is why I'm not using my precious "free" time to prepare for next quarter's classes. It's a reboot of my Zombie Apocalypse class, plus and minus a few readings, so it's not like I don't know the material fairly well. But really, I'm too twitchy to concentrate. 

My students, meanwhile, anticipating their successful completion of my class, are trying to register for the next level of first-year writing, which I happen to be teaching next quarter. I have been told repeatedly that my sections are already full, sad face, and who else do I recommend, or might third place on the waitlist still work out, etc. I confess. I don't know what to do with this popularity. I'm glad, obviously, that my students like me and my teaching, especially since this lot survived Beowulf and Aristotle and some truly difficult writing. So it's not that they think I'm an easy instructor (which would gall). I am secretly flattered that my sections fill up as fast as they do, and that I have a reputation among students. I'm also weirded out by it, because I don't know what to do with popularity. I know I am a very good teacher. I can own that. Personally likable? I guess. My teaching persona is sarcastic, irreverent, profane, and funny. (Not that different from Real Me, except way more patience on display at all times.) Also: ridiculously helpful in office hours. So I get why the students want me. If I were a student, I would want me (which is why I teach the way I do: I am my own first audience). But it's still weird to be so sought after. And it will be nice to see familiar faces in the classroom next quarter, and have that many fewer to learn. 

So I'm not complaining. Just ruminating on why being good at something, and being recognized for that, makes me uncomfortable. Maybe it's just the eye talking.

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