In some ways the Extremely Brief but Powerful Storm last Thursday was a gift. Sure, it knocked down a few trees, smashed some cars, rolled over a mobile home with its elderly resident inside (but she walked away unscathed), and caused a power outage on campus that prevented two of my first-year classes from finishing their drafts (due last Friday), but on the other hand, it also forced me to postpone the deadline for those drafts until Monday, leaving my weekend totally free of grading.
I baked pumpkin cookies, stuffed some squashes, read a totally frivolous book, went for a long walk in the gorgeous weather, polished up my conference paper for next weekend, got caught up on my napping, and did not for one moment wish I had a pile of first-year drafts to read.
Of course I knew I would have to pay a price for this freedom--starting today. Those drafts that didn't come in last Friday will slide into the online dropbox this morning, and the only way I can make my week work is to read and respond to all of them today and tomorrow. Wednesday is too late because that's when I leave for my conference, and the revised papers are due Friday while I'm gone.
So this is it: today I will teach three classes and, in the evening, host a two-hour film showing, but in between all that I will read and respond to 34 first-year drafts. Thirty-four. That Extremely Brief but Powerful Storm took only 20 minutes to do all the damage, but my 34 first-year drafts will lay siege to my brain for hours and hours, and by the time that storm is over, my brain will be battered and bashed to bits. Is there any hope of walking away unscathed?