Monthly Archives: September 2011

So, I presented my paper. It was better for me because I talked it rather than reading it. It was okay. I repeated myself a few times. I presented a few bits of information that were truly interesting to the audience, I think. Someday I want to write a book, like David Sedaris, and laugh about how terrible I used to be at all of this.

At least the conversation that ensued was interesting. Also, the conference organizers are always like, “let us know if you’re using technology, but really, don’t count on being able to use technology.” I read this as probably there won’t be technology. Or, prepare two versions of your paper one with/one without technology (which is just way too much work). Despite these obstacles, I’ve decided that power points are a necessary evil for these kinds of things.


reading a paper

I’m reading a paper at a conference this weekend. A conference put on by my boss who may or may not be disappointed in my plagiarism finding skillz.

Here’s the thing, I’m not a huge fan of conferences. I’m getting used to them and I’m getting better at them, but there’s still a lot left to be desired. Usually, I can only endure one (maybe two) panels per day (each one lasting about one and half hours). Look, the ideas are dense, people are often simply reading from a long paper (I’ll be doing the same), and it’s just too much.

So, to escape, I want to retreat to the hotel room, but that seems lame and everyone wants to socialize and I want to socialize with interesting people, but then I get stuck with some boring person who is clearly just clinging to me so as not to be alone. And I realize I”m doing the same thing. And I’m bored with my boring conversation.

Plus, by the time I’ve written, revised, read aloud, revised and read my paper out loud again, the last thing I want to do is read the paper aloud at the conference. By then, I’m totally tired of looking at the thing. And afterwards, while I’m looking for an escape, people are milling around, saying shocking things like, “That was fascinating!” or “Wow, this has been so interesting!” or “I wish we could do this more often!” And I’m just trying to find the exit and sweet, sweet solitude.


Two years ago there was a case of plagiarism in my class that I didn’t catch. I feel bad about not catching it, but I also think that plagiarism can be really tough to catch, except in the most obvious of cases. The student asked if I could sign off on an essay she wrote for my class so she could use it for a university-wide writing requirement. Upon closer inspection, I thought the intro was a little…off. Some quick googling lead me to the intro in Time Magazine that she’d ripped off. Not word for word, but a careful rewriting.

Right before final essays are due, I always do a few lessons on how to write powerful sentences, how to write powerful intros, etc. I’m sure that my lesson on powerful intros contributed to this case. She probably felt pressure to say something really smart. I’m sure when I originally read the intro, I assumed she was applying my lesson on writing clever intros.

I routinely type suspicious lines into google when I suspect plagiarism in student writing. Too much typing is tiresome when you teach large classes, but this time she’d emailed the essay to me so I could simply copy and paste. That made finding the plagiarism (and proving it), much easier.

Normally in my classes, when this happens, I use an educational approach (opposed to punitive). Since in this case, she is no longer my student, and the essay is being used for a purpose beyond my class, I felt like I should take action.

Normally, I feel very supported by my supervisors. This time, I can’t help but feel like one of them is upset with me for not doing my job as effectively as I could have. I know that I’m projecting my own disappointment in not catching this case, but I think she’s really upset with me. There have also been conversations that have been cut short when I’ve tried to elaborate on the situation, irritation, and an email that requested I acknowledge why I didn’t originally catch the plagiarism, and an email that said the case was upsetting “on many levels.” I mean, how many levels are there other than one of them being disappointment with the instructor? In the past, it seems like supervisors are quick to support the instructor. I’m not really feeling that that’s the case this time around, which is unfortunate because, trust me, it would’ve been much easier to deal with this on my own and never involve the supervisors.

Next week, this supervisor is supposed to write a letter of recommendation for me for the job search. I can’t help but feel like it will be tainted by this experience. Talk about terrible timing.


I’m having such a hard time getting any work done. It’s hard to focus. I think my problem is the job search. I’m feeling a little paralyzed by the process. I’m supposed to apply to a bunch of jobs, and see what happens. But. But! I’m regionally bound. I think. What would I be willing to do? Where would I be willing to go? Part of me just feels like putting my foot down and setting some boundaries with this pushy career path thing. Everyone says I don’t have that luxury.

vague, upset ramblings…

…that I hate in status update form on facebook.
But, it seems like everywhere around me lives are falling apart. Normally, I would blame the impending full moon and let it go. But, today I have a nervousness in my stomach and I can’t let it go. I’m taking on everyone else’s stuff, which is not useful at all. Plus, everyone’s drinking too much. It’s hard to find a young man whose life isn’t being destroyed by the pressure. Of what, I’m not sure.