9:35 a.m. Well, it's raining. That helps. Today's allotment: 21 midterms, 25 reflections.
Pre-marking ritual: make coffee, put on marking boots (beautiful John Fluevogs that trigger an old injury if I walk too far in them, now only good for sitting in, hence "marking boots"), turn on classical music, arrange flowers on desk, apply lip gloss (a technique I learned from writing the novel: pretend it's a date). Sit in rickety chair. Begin.
10:30 a.m. 10 midterms done. Lowest mark: 20%. Think about the ethics of saying to this student, "You don't have the language skills yet to take this course. Whoever promoted you did you no favours." Think about the ethics of NOT saying this. Heave sigh, go back to midterms.
10:35. Mark one midterm. Stop, get out tool box, fix chair. Wish for Allen key that fixes language problems. Better yet: wish for that chair in The Matrix so we could just upload grammar through a port in the back of the head.
11:24. 11 midterms done. Highest mark: 96%. Time for a snack.
11:39. Count the reflections. Still 25. Change music to swing. Change pens.
1:02. The reflections are actually essays, but I try not to call them that because the word essay elicits waves of despair and protest from my students, followed by the inevitable question about the number of paragraphs required, which elicits a wave of despair in me. The five-paragraph form has been beaten into their heads so thoroughly that they can't think around it. Instead of an engaging in an essai, an attempt to figure something out, they've been taught to manufacture three points, whatever the question, cram them into a thesis, insert them into three body paragraphs, and repeat them in a conclusion.
1:05. Google how to write a five paragraph essay: 1,150,000 results. But what's wrong with the five paragraph essay gets 941,000 results. Hope is a thing with feathers! (16,700,000 results).
1:15. 15 reflections left. Change of locale required. Pack papers, pen. Apply more lip gloss. Aroma Espresso Bar, here I come.
3:20. Effects of coffee and espresso brownie not strong enough to counteract marking lethargy. Four reflections left. Fighting off sleep. Must. Keep. Marking.
4:40. Put down pen. Pour glass of wine. Open The Marriage Plot. Breathe.