Weeklyish Challengey Thingie: Grade All the Papers

December 2, 2012

Hey, you guys.

Guess what?


Yep, I’ve only got five more days until classes are finished for the semester, and I’ll officially be footloose and fancy-free for an entire month!

One month!

I know!

Not to rub it in or anything.

Okay, maybe to rub it in a little bit.

But, seriously, guys. ONE MONTH.

I will finally have time to do all those things I told myself I was totally going to do once I returned to the States. But I haven’t had any time to do.

Like work out.

And drink margaritas.

Okay, maybe, mostly drink margaritas.

5 more days, then it’s just you & me, Mr. Jumbo-Sized Margarita

Exciting as this fact is, there’s one teensy weensy little thing that I’m not so excited about.

I have about five kabillion papers to grade before the end of the semester. And, I know you all think I’m exaggerating. Because, really, when am I not exaggerating.

But I’m for serious this time.


Right before Thanksgiving I piled all the papers I had to grade on top of each other. And then I measured it. Because I thought seeing all the work I needed to do in one big stack the size of a small mountain would actually, you know, motivate me to do work.

As usual, I thought wrong.

Instead, it motivated me to do a whole bunch of other things I never thought I’d be motivated to do.

Like let my five-year-old niece give me a pedicure. In case you’re wondering, things did not turn out well. Let’s just say, you probably shouldn’t give nail polish to someone who hasn’t really gotten the hang of coloring within the lines yet.

It’s a good thing it’s not sandal season.

And I agreed to watch the latest Twilight movie with my sister. Even though I haven’t watched any of the other Twilight movies and I only read the first book. Which means I’m woefully behind on my teenager-vampire-werewolf lore. Which meant I spent the entire time asking my sister questions like, “Wait, now, so when a vampire and human mate they give birth to creepy CGI babies?” and “So, wasn’t the werewolf guy kind of into Bella and now he’s into her creepy CGI daughter? Umm. EWWW.”

And, then, just at the moment that I was going to sit down and start grading papers like a total boss, I got distracted by pie.

As you do.

Papers? What papers?

This week I’ve been attempting to make up for lost time and work my way through the mountain o’ papers, so I can actually hand stuff back to my students before classes finish.

And, you know, before they all forget what a thesis statement is. (Ha, ha, who am I kidding? They’ve already totally forgotten what a thesis statement is. I know this because every time I say stuff like, “Make sure your essay has a clear thesis statement,” they look at me with these expressions on their faces that say, “A thesis-what-now?)

And because I’ve spent almost every waking minute of my week grading papers, this means I’ve also spent almost every waking minute of my week in pants.

Which, I think we can all agree, is kind of a crappy way to spend the week.

You see, unfortunately, I’m not the type of person who’s capable of getting any kind of work done while sitting at home in my bathrobe.

My preferred work uniform. Alas, it’s not meant to be.

I try. I really do. I’m all like, “I’m totally getting some work done.” Which works. For five seconds. And then I get distracted by something.

Like the Internet and any reality TV show ever.

Even when I turn my computer and television off, I still end up getting distracted. I should probably mention that I live in a barn. And I don’t really own a lot of stuff. At least not a lot of stuff most people would consider distracting.

That just goes to show you how inventive I am when it comes to getting distracted.

I can be distracted by anything.

I’m like the MacGyver of being distracted.

Or a bird.

First, I’ll start flipping through old family albums. Which are filled with gems like this one:

Circa 7th grade. Back when I apparently thought I was living in France. Obviously, my brother hadn’t gotten that memo.

And this one:

What’s that you say? Your old family photos don’t have goats in them? And now you know what your life has been missing.

And then I’ll decide it’s high time I organize my CD collection. From eight years ago. Back when I was really into Euro-trash dance music for some reason. Because you just never know when you might need your Best of Trance Volume Three. And god forbid you can’t find it.

(And, yes, I’m pretty sure I owned Volume One and Two. STOP LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT.)

And then there’s the little issue of my cat. Who seems to think the only reason I exist on this planet is for the sole purpose of petting and feeding her. So if I’m not doing either one of those things, she’s been known to stage a protest. And, should, I be attempting to grade papers, she’ll just stage a protest on top of the papers.


So if I really want to get any work done, I have to put on my pants and banish myself to a coffee shop or café somewhere.

Welcome to my office.

Which is annoying because, well, PANTS, you guys.

And because it usually means I end up being surrounded by people. People who are having loud conversations. The kind of conversations that I always manage to overhear even when I have my iPod earbuds jammed into my ears. The kind of conversations that I will never, ever be able to unhear. No matter how hard I try.

(To the lady who was sitting next to me at the Panera the other day: Congratulations on your pregnancy! But, umm, if you could please refrain from talking about your lady parts while I’m eating lunch, that would be awesome.)

(And to the girl at Corner Bakery who couldn’t figure out why her boyfriend doesn’t want to spend time with her and kept on asking her friend, “Do you think I’m being an annoying girlfriend?”: Yes, yes, you are.)

Which reminds me, I should probably put on my pants and get to work. I still have a stack of papers the size of Mount Fuji that I need to tackle before tomorrow.

And I’m pretty sure there’s a peppermint mocha and an indecent conversation at Starbucks right now which I’m totally missing out on.

What’s that you say, lady-at-the-table-next-to-me? You have a urinary tract infection? TELL ME MORE.

Where do you go to get your work done? Or maybe you’re the type of person who can actually get work done at home? TELL ME HOW. Because, seriously, guys, I’ve got another week of grading to go and this pants thing is getting old.

I've blathered on long enough! Now it's your turn!

  1. On December 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm Dani Blanchette said:

    I would love to give you tips on how to be productive at home, but as you can see, I myself am too busy getting distracted reading your blog to do any of my own bloggy work right now.

    So, um, thank you for making me feel like im not the only person with the attention span of a gnat on meth!


    I really want hot coca with fluff. I think i need to go do that next…
    Dani Blanchette recently posted..Ichigo Ichie–Fine Sushi in Franklin, MA

  2. On December 2, 2012 at 5:13 pm Briona said:

    I have to confess that I’m not really the best person to offer advice, mainly because I am reading your blog (which BTW I love!) instead of grading my students’ homework. Their notebooks are in a heap at the end of my bed though so the intention’s there!

    Of course I should have done them earlier but there was this muffin-making workshop I had to go to. And given the choice between muffins or grading you’d choose muffins, right? Well obviously I did and now I feel sick because I didn’t just make muffins, I ate them. And now instead of grading the books I am thinking up excuses I can make to my students as to why I haven’t graded them.

  3. On December 2, 2012 at 5:50 pm Pamm said:

    So here I sit, wearing, oh, I don’t know, something comfortable, big and roomy, consolidating a 6300 item database. What was it I wanted to do today?? Oh yes, clean the house. So back to the database that I have never used.

    When my Mom wants to avoid her personal accounting work, she thinks of all the things she wants me to do for her when I come to visit. Then calls and tells me. Either that, or she thinks of all of her computer questions, and calls and asks them. No matter that I have a completely different operating system and have no idea of what she is looking at.

    No wonder I don’t get things done.

  4. On December 2, 2012 at 9:32 pm Priya said:

    I’m the same way. If I need to get stuff done, I’ll drag myself to a coffee shop or something. I feel more productive when I’m out rather than in.
    And I totally saw the new Twilight movie last night followed by a coconutty margarita because you can’t see a movie with a Vampire Baby and not drink afterwards.
    Priya recently posted..5 Things I Learned From Doing 46 HOT YOGA Classes In 30 Days

  5. On December 2, 2012 at 9:53 pm James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly said:

    Work? What is this word you speak of, kind lady? I only work 1 day a week and somehow manage to fritter away the rest of my days. (Did I mention I stayed up until 3am last night because I found Time Magazine’s list of 50 Best Youtube videos? C’mon! Baby bopping to Single Ladies? How can I work when videos like that exist?) And I recently went two months without posting anything. Sigh. I need a support group. And some cheese. Yeah. Mainly cheese.
    James @ Fly, Icarus, Fly recently posted..Are you a celebrity? Cuz I just might stalk you…

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:25 pm Sally said:

      Yeah, I always marvel at those people who say they’d get too bored if they didn’t have a job. The few times I’ve been job-less I’ve been absolutely slammed-busy… granted by “busy” I mean sleeping in until noon and eating brunch for five hours.

  6. On December 2, 2012 at 10:36 pm Penguinlady said:

    Good thing you’re not on Pinterest. You’d lose entire days pinning. Not that I’ve ever done that.

    It’s probably a good thing Pinterest came after I stopped working from home. See, I can ignore the kids for an hour with a “mommy’s busy pinning great play ideas and parenting tips for you, you ungrateful ruffians!”. But I doubt my boss would have been satisfied with my pinning yet another Italian recipe. He didn’t have much of a sense of humor.

    Good luck with your grading!

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm Sally said:

      I just joined Pinterest the other day but have yet to figure it out. I think I’d better wait until these papers are graded or my students will never ever see their grades.

  7. On December 3, 2012 at 10:24 am Carmel said:

    I don’t do a lot of work outside of work. It’s one of the few benefits to being someone’s lackey. The boss has to be around to give out work.

    When I was in college and actually had work to do after classes, I could work from home. I got too distracted being in the outside world. Of course internet wasn’t what it was now and I would study with the TV on sometimes. I don’t know how that was possible.
    Carmel recently posted..Thanksgiving Recap

  8. On December 3, 2012 at 2:20 pm Kate said:

    Hard-fought experience (as in, I fought hard NOT to learn these things) has taught me that I have to stay off Pinterest, FB and Twitter if I want to get ANYTHING done in a day. Take today for example: I am up against a hard deadline for a 1700-word article on the Dakar Rally, and instead of doing the massive amount of research I should be doing to even have a clue about this huge event, I am reading (and posting on) your blog! Which I enjoy very much BTW…
    As for going out to work elsewhere, that would require getting dressed in for-public-viewing clothes, and I just cannot be bothered. So work at home it is. Thank heavens I don’t have cable and cannot be distracted by the latest doings of this or that wealthy and talent-less train wreck. If I did, I think I’d be homeless.

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm Sally said:

      Just even having a computer near me that I know has access to the Internet is way too much temptation for me. So even when I turn my computer off, I end up turning it back on and checking my Facebook “Just one more time” and then getting sucked into the blissful hole of kitty videos. Luckily, I’m still pretty crap at working my smart phone, so if I’m out and about, I don’t have to worry about being tempted by kitten videos.

  9. On December 3, 2012 at 3:00 pm willwander said:

    Oh my gosh I am in EXACTLY the same place right now. I have 2 more weeks of classes and am facing a week of 2 essays a test and an oral presentation and I haven’t really started on it…there are so many more interesting things to do that feel more valuable. Nonetheless I am trying. I went to the library today – which usually helps. Except today it put me to sleep. No good. Good luck to you and enjoy your vacation!

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm Sally said:

      I’ve thought about going to the library to get my grading done, but the downside would be no coffee. And cookies. I need a lot of caffeine and sugar to get through my grading! Plus, I’d probably get way too distracted by all those glorious, much-more-interesting-than-comparison-contrast-essay BOOKS!

  10. On December 3, 2012 at 3:12 pm Andi of My Beautiful Adventures said:

    Starbucks is the place I ALWAYS focus!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..A Photographic Look At My Adventures In 2012 + Giveaway

    • On December 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm Sally said:

      It totally depends on the layout of the Starbucks for me (I know, this is TOTALLY way picky). But, in order to concentrate, I really need a corner all to myself… but some of the Starbucks are really small & busy and don’t have dark little corners for me to sit in and bemoan my existence (along with the five million essays I need to grade). But I do love their peppermint mochas!

  11. On December 3, 2012 at 5:48 pm Maria said:

    Scan them, send them to me, I’ll grade them. ETA 72 hours and you can lounge in the robe the whole time!

    Don’t bother telling me what the assignment or focus of the project was – doesn’t matter with express service.
    Maria recently posted..Fluff and Fold

  12. On December 3, 2012 at 8:32 pm Uncle Ed said:

    Love your stories. Retired from teaching for years, yet, I awake every morning from assignment grading dreams or lost room assignments, or police chased campus wanderings, and still find myself making the most articulate plans to avoid anything academically workful: usually coffee, Laurel and Hardy movies, tiny blinking electrical circuits, and tasty sounding mocha’s thingies, the stuff my doctoral defense was completely fortified with and founded upon!!

  13. On December 3, 2012 at 10:49 pm Katherine @ Grass Stains said:

    Unfortunately, I work most efficiently and with the fewest distractions in my chair at work. As in, at my office. As in, I can’t wear my bathrobe there without serious repercussions. But when I work from home, I, too, am easily distracted … by all the reality TV, the fabulous projects I could start (and not finish) and all the books waiting for me on my Kindle. Not to mention all the blogs on my Reader. Of which you are now one.

    • On December 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm Sally said:

      Wahoo! I’m glad I could be part of the distractions. And, yes, I agree with you on the office thing. When I had my own office…. err, cubicle… I used to try to get all my work done there. But now I work in a big open office with lots of other teachers, so it’s kind of hard to concentrate… I mean, who wants to grade papers when there are fun people to talk to? So now I have to go to places where I don’t know any fun people. Only strangers who talk about their bladder infections. EWWW.

  14. On December 5, 2012 at 11:22 am Tom @ Waegook Tom said:

    Sally, I can barely get work done at work, let alone at home, so alas I am devoid of tips for you.

    I’ve been giving out new books in my classes this week. It’s exactly the same format as before, but the kids are looking at me like I’m suggesting alien new concepts, rather than ones that should be familiar by now…after NINE MONTHS…
    Tom @ Waegook Tom recently posted..Gongju: Fortress & Fermentation

    • On December 9, 2012 at 5:29 pm Sally said:

      Ha ha. OMIGOD. I KNOW. Every single time my students hand in the final draft of their paper, they’re required to hand in their outline & first draft along with it. And EVERY SINGLE TIME at least two or three students will be like, “Wha? I need to hand in my first draft?” And they hand in at least 1 or 2 papers per week so wouldn’t you think they’d know this by now? But no. It’s always news to them.

  15. On December 5, 2012 at 5:06 pm Laura said:

    I hate to love Facebook and also hate wearing pants. So I wear skirts. And dresses. All the time here in Panama. Keeps my legs nice and tan. Good luck with the papers. May you find them riveting.


    • On December 9, 2012 at 5:26 pm Sally said:

      Sadly, it’s not exactly skirt or dress weather here in Buffalo. And when I do wear a skirt or dress I have to wear tights to keep my legs from freezing off. And tights are even worse than pants!

  16. On December 5, 2012 at 5:58 pm Sine said:

    Honestly, I’m jealous of YOUR distractions. I could get TONS of stuff done here at home if it weren’t for MY distractions. Mainly in the from of 4 kids. For one, I’ve GOT to get better at delegating to them. They have nothing to do all day long (though supposedly there are exams to study for) but play x-box and ask me what’s for dinner (and pull a face when the answer is less-than-desirable) and argue with each other, while I’m going crazy with catching up on an avalanche of emails, writing what seems like 3 blog posts every day, sending out donation emails, filling out moving questionnaires, reminding kids to put away their shoes, fixing the printer, fixing hinges in cabinets, rsvp-ing to birthday invites, calling in electricity meter readings, trying to get the school to give me course descriptions, getting Powers of Attorney signed at the consulate so a house can be bought, grocery shopping, cooking, reminding sprinkler repair guy to come because yard is flooded and then making an appointment in Outlook to remember to remind him again tomorrow, reminding my kids to turn off TV, finding poster board for school projects, ordering Christmas presents, cleaning up the 3rd bird the cat has dragged into the house this week, cursing because all the scotch tape is gone from a bazillion girl projects, and, occasionally, staggering into my bed to sleep.

    Then again, having to be a teacher and nagging and shushing even more kids would just about kill me. So I take my hat off to you and your exam papers!
    Sine recently posted..The Last Time

  17. On December 6, 2012 at 7:54 am ConfusedJulia said:

    I had to listen to two young Mormon boys try and convert a teenage girl to Mormonism in a Starbucks in Edinburgh the other day. There were bibles and graphical drawings on the table. It was…..weird. Seriously, do these people have nowhere better to hold these conversations? Like, school? Or their own homes?
    ConfusedJulia recently posted..Amsterdam: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

  18. On December 6, 2012 at 4:07 pm Montecristo Travels (Sonja) said:

    Reward system. The only thing that works. I put little coloured post-it thingy’s (yes that is the official term don’t argue with me)at “goal points”. Once I reach that goal point I get something. Like that hot chocolate, or that piece of pie … No goal point? no reward.

    Same for home or coffee shop. I rather work from home. I love my comfy “writing sweater”.

    • On December 9, 2012 at 5:23 pm Sally said:

      I usually give myself a reward after every 5 or 10 papers graded (depending on how long the papers are). I like the post-it note idea… but that would mean I wouldn’t get to obsessively count the papers I’ve already graded and wonder why it’s going to slow. Which would probably be a good thing.

  19. On December 8, 2012 at 4:46 pm The Guy said:

    Maybe you should reward yourself with one pie after every 10 thesis you mark?

    I can relate to what you say though. When I was deep in study I just started doing all the things I never did often enough, like cleaning and DIY. It was a subconscious reaction to the work my mind really wanted to escape from. Funnily enough I never felt too much better for doing the distracting work.
    The Guy recently posted..The Thongs All Wrong


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