Friday, January 16, 2009

Grace, dignity, and professionalism

My mantra for 2009 was to be 'grace, dignity, and professionalism'--this in contrast to the grump, ignominy, and general buffoonery of the greater part of 2008. I made elaborate plans: I sorted a week's worth of snazzy outfits before school resumed! I dusted off my paper planner, and noted important deadlines! I turned up the volume on the alarm clock and made pinky-swear mutual deals with Pynchon with respect to meal-planning, lunch-packing, and up-getting!

You can see where this is leading, right?

Well, Saturday evening, making dinner, while trying to talk to Pynchon and trying also to discourage Munchkin from whining and pulling on my pants while I chopped vegetables, I cut the end of my thumb off. I howled with pain, saw the wee chunk of former thumb on the cutting board, and promptly collapsed in a corner yelping for a towel and holding my arm high above my head. Munchkin freaked out. Pynchon rescued me, and then noted that the cut was so perfect that there wasn't even any blood on the knife. He picked up a green pepper, and ate it. The next morning, against my protests and mounting nausea and hysteria, he removed my oozing bandaid. I fainted. I went to see the doctor, whose verdict was: "Hey, there's really nothing left there to stitch, so keep it dry and clean." He directed the nurse to build me an impenetrable barrier of gauze the size of a small banana to protect the wound. You've seen that picture in my last post ...

No showers. No handwashing. No dishwashing. No meal prep. No toddler bathing. And no typing because my thumb hurt and when I hit the space bar, I also hit 'b', 'v', and 'g' and sometimes 'h'. Nice.

That was Sunday. Monday, Pynchon went off to work and I had a lovely day home with Munchkin, enjoying my good fortune at having my 4.5 hours of Monday teaching not start until the following week--it was a 'non-teaching' day at daycare and on main campus. After nap, we got ready, my girl and I, to head out to the grocery store at around 3.

The phone rang.

It was the department secretary. "Hi," she said. "Hi," I replied. "Um, I have some of your students here?" she offered. "Yeah?" I replied. "Ah, they are wondering, um, if you're having class today?"


Yup, I skipped the first day of school. And I'm the professor. I told her to tell the students class was cancelled. "Are you going to be here for your night class?" she asked, a little warily. "Yes, yes, yes," I assured her, panicking.

I calculated: I had had no shower. I was wearing ratty jeans. I had no child care. I also had: no syllabus for the night class, no key to the multimedia classroom, no class roster, no lesson plan. No makeup. No hope.


I called Pynchon, tried to calm Munchkin who was picking up on my panic and getting antsy, bundled us both in the car and drove right to my office. Pynchon waited in the drive for us, and jumped into the driver's seat as I jumped out.

I just barely got my act together--with some not insubstantial help from the department support staff--and taught the three hour class night class. God help me, I used the home-amputation excuse to explain my earlier absence to the many, many students from the afternoon class who were also in my evening class. I had a giant, comic bandage on my hand. Students looked at me pityingly.

Grace? No. Dignity? Um, no. Professionalism? People, I skipped the first day of class.

The semester was all of one day old, and I had made a spectacle of myself and a mockery of my professionalism in front of staff, faculty, and students alike.

I've been joking with my colleagues about the old academic nightmare of missing the final exam--"Hey, I've skipped the first day of class! I'm here to tell you that the nightmare is real!" Ha, ha. At least I've still got my sense of humour, right?

Would you trust your education to this woman? Lessee: Dirty? Check. Disheveled? Check. Ridiculous bandage? Check.


cinnamon gurl said...

Oh that's brutal.

Hey - do you know anything about people doing photo shoots in campus stairwells? Is it something one would have to get advance permission? Or could one just ask forgiveness if caught?

Omaha Mama said...

Now's the time that you give yourself some grace (in another sense of the word) and realize that this is what keeps us humble. The days where we completely blow it! :0)
I'd register for your class. Really!

alejna said...

Oh my. You have my heartfelt sympathy. And rest assured, you still have my heartfelt admiration.

I'll admit that I snickered while reading this. It was, of course, at your humorous wording. And I hope that you won't be offended if I tell you that your mishaps make me feel a wee bit better about my own complete lack of any sort of accomplishments over the past week or so. I'm dirty and disheveled, but at least least I have all my digits. And well, I've never had much dignity anyhow.

motherbumper said...

oh my sweet holy - you cut it clean off? I almost fainted reading this post. You deserve a medal for teaching the night class - seriously, you do.

Bea said...

I have had that nightmare many times, though in my nightmares it's usually only one of the variants (forgetting about a class, showing up with no notes, etc.) rather than all of them in the same day. Yeowch!

Jenifer said...

I would so, so, so still come to your classes! The upside is you have no where to go but up, right?!


Mimi said...

Bea, Alejna, I suffer so that you can giggle.

Jenifer, nowhere to go but up is exactly what I said :-) Ha!

Kyla said...

Hilarious! Set the bar low, then you'll exceed everyone's expectations...very clever of you. ;)

kittenpie said...

Yikes! Now are you going to have a hinky, foreshortened thumb forever?

And I was thinking you looked rather sharp in that sweater and jacket, actually.

Mimi said...

Kittenpie -- so much better, though, if I was wearing deodorant. I thought it had the potential to be cute, but of course, most of the buttons are undone underneath because, with my hinky thumb, I can't do them up. Sooooo sophisticated.

Patti said...

OK, that is the FUNNIEST post I have read in a long time. I forced my husband to listen to it, word for word. He considered fainting at some of the descriptions. And now we both have had a moment of howling laughter, and are moving on with our day.

SecondSight said...

Long-time lurker, first-time commenter.. your blog provides me with so much dark hope - proof that someone out there is having a worse time than grad school! And you still manage to be funny about it :)
As was said.. the year can only get better,no?


Her Bad Mother said...



am SHUDDERING over here. and not just about the finger.

gah gah gah gah gah.

Assertagirl said...

AW, poor mimi...things can only get better from this point, right?

Beck said...

Let me tell you a little story just to make you feel better, okay?

One time - back when I had TWO BABIES, God help me - I had a thing to go to, so I dressed both kids up, had a shower with the curtain open - so I could keep an eye on them - threw my pants on, did my makeup, got their coats on, brushed my hair, out the door VOILA!

And it wasn't until we were at the very, very public event that I realized that I'd forgotten to put a shirt on. That's right. NAKED UNDER MY PARKA.


Mad said...

It can only get better, right? I hope the thumb heals fast.

ewe are here said...

The semester can only get better, right?

I hope it's healing quickly.

crazymumma said...

But....don't you wish it had been your middle finger?

Mimi said...

I'm sorry to laugh at your misfortune! I have never cut off my thumb but I did break the end of my pinky finger off in a field hockey match in high school. And I did faint.
I teach as an adjunct at the University of Maine, and if your department is as scatterbrained as mine is I don't fault you for missing your first day of class! I didn't have keys for TWO WEEKS!