I’ve stuck close to Spackle Manor this weekend, sleeping in and listening to music as much as possible. While I was at it, I wrote a 900-word story. I’ve always called those short-shorts, but I understand the kids today call it flash fiction, so I’ve started it on its rounds of folks who say they publish same.
The trial has been postponed until 26 August, and with the Labor Day weekend falling in the midst of Jury selection, that means I won’t be heading up to Kentucky until the weekend of 7-8 September. I’m told Mrs. M and I probably won’t be testifying until ca. 18-19 September. I guess it’s odd, this determination of mine simply to be there, despite the fact that I probably won’t be allowed in the courtroom until the closing statements, unless I’m released as a witness at an earlier point. All the same, I want to be there, in the building, anyway. So there’s that.
I spent a fair amount of last night using Google Street View, looking at places I used to live — apartment complexes, a few houses. It dawned on me very late in the process that I’ve now lived at Spackle Manor longer than I have any previous residence. I lived in the house in Kentucky for a total of about 7-8 years, having left for college in the early 80s and boomeranged back for a couple of years in 1985-87. And now, the Spawn, Mrs. M, and I have been at Spackle Manor for nine years. I reckon I’m home.
Although (barring something dramatic that would derail the trial schedule) I won’t be teaching this semester, I still find myself drawn to my office on campus, and hearing my colleagues talk about assembling their syllabi gives me a sort of phantom limb itch. I’ll also go ahead and attend the two-day faculty retreat this week, part of which will be devoted to bigger and better efforts at assessment, part of the ongoing scientism of higher ed. One interesting side effect on this insistence that everything must be somehow assessed and quantified is a reluctance to pursue big ideas. “Well, that’s a fine goal — but how would we assess that?” is strangling genuine innovation in its crib. I don’t blame my colleagues on the assessment committees for this, by the way — I don’t really think they like this any more than I do. It’s a combination of Ed-School efforts to drape an art in the mantle of science and accrediting agencies wanting easily digestible, crunchable numbers, rather than ambiguous — if honest — narratives. On the upside, there will be snacks.
And what can I do? As the Spawn noted yesterday when I threatened to scratch her sunburn, “You have no fingernails. You’re an English professor — any natural defenses you may have had have atrophied.”
So that’s the view from Mondoville. I hope things are pleasant for you, wherever your home may be.