Friday, February 11, 2005

Adventures in Chaos

Last night's karate class was an adventure in chaos. It's hard to have ten students in a small room all demanding your attention. And because they're kids and not graduate students, they don't have the presence of mind to figure out things to do without my supervision.

I tell them to keep working on their kata, and they are clearly bewildered. "Why should I work on it? I already know it!" they say. Well, actually, you don't know it. There are a lot of mistakes. I point them out, they practice the kata once, and then think they have it. Then they come and interrupt me while I'm working with someone else, and then they get disgusted when I tell them to go back and keep practicing some more.

I'm able to not take it personally. I guess that's just the way it is with kids. I feel sometimes like the well-behaved, compliant students don't get enough attention, and that I inadvertently reward the terribly obnoxious ones. Some of the more advanced students haven't learned a new kata in ages, and I need to pay more attention to them.

I'm hard on myself as a teacher, because I don't want to screw things up. I recall some of the really crappy teachers I had as a child, and I don't want to be like them. But sometimes I think I overanalyze everything, instead of just acting on my gut feeling. I'm just so scared of messing up that I think five times about what I'm going to do before actually doing it.

And I feel like the rest of my life is in chaos right now too. A lot of my work is of the "hurry up and wait" variety, meaning that I scramble around trying to solve a problem, and then I have to wait for a job to run before I find out if my solution worked. My office-mates, who are not in such a rush to graduate, simply surf the internet, read a book (work-related or not work-related), or relax while their jobs run. I, on the other hand, am packing things into these wait times.

In particular, I've been writing slides for my defense and job interviews. Obviously I don't yet have all the data that I will include in these slides, but I can certainly take my prelim slides and update them with everything that I currently have. And I've been writing slides that explain in more detail some of the things that I gloss over in the main slides, such as Chlodovsky's extension of the Bernstein polynomials, and the Delannoy numbers and expense of finite differencing.

But it's kind of chaotic because this writing feels very iterative, in the sense that I had a first approximation to the slides (copied from my prelim talk), then I made another pass and updated the information in those slides, then another pass to add more information, and another pass for even more information, etc. I worry that I'll forget something important.

I've gotten a lot of other things out of the way, too. I've already paid my taxes, due April 15, but I know I'm going to be insanely busy then. I paid the trash bill through April, too. Everything else is automatically debited from my bank account.

I don't really have to worry about the trip to Sweden, either, because my advisor's secretary will handle all the details of that. I do worry about the state of my house, because we will have to get it much cleaner and neater if we expect to sell it for a decent sum. I think we will have to hire somebody to scour it for us, because I don't see that my husband will be able to do it himself. The yard needs a lot of help, too. Hopefully my dad can come sometime in the spring and help us fix it up neat enough that it will pass for nice when we try to sell.

I need to take my brown belt test, and I need to do it soon, because my karate will suffer when I start traveling for job interviews. And I need to actually get a job or something wild and crazy like that. Otherwise all this rushing will be for naught. Based on talking with the guy from Sandia, it will take 2.5-3 days per job interview, so that will eat into my time too.

1 comment:

Laura said...

...and you need to BREATHE, too! :-) (That's the one I always forget.)

Good luck, sweetie. I have confidence in you - you'll get it done. Just be organized (sounds like you are) and take it one step at a time.

Love ya!