Wednesday, January 14, 2009

First Day of School

There are many days when I feel, professionally, like a bit of a fraud. There is just no way to know everything -- the brain is so complex and people are so complex and communication is so complex, and on any given day I'm expected to know at least slightly more about the resolution of problems with voice, speech, thinking, reading, writing, memory, and swallowing than the people who have them. It's hard to feel like an expert in anything.

That being said, last night I started teaching a class to graduate students in speech at a local prestigious university. That indicates that I know a subject, in this case, augmentative and alternative communication, enough to discuss it for 15 weeks. These poor girls are paying for what they think I know. Hmmm...

This is an amazing opportunity for me. It will force me to learn things that I don't know about this area (namely, the pediatric end of it), prompt me to do the background research I've been meaning to do for a number of years now, and teach me a little something about this millennial generation my boss goes on and on about. It will also give me a chance to figure out whether or not I like academia on this end of it, as I've kicked around the idea of a PhD off and on since graduate school. I want to do this well.

I prepped carefully, put together course requirements that hopefully seemed fair but not too taxing so as to be annoying, read the text book. I tried to be relevant in my planning. One thought would lead to another to another, and it was becoming both fun and a confirmation of the fact that maybe I do know a little something about this after all. Huh, I think. I'm a pro. I can do this.

So Tuesday comes and I choose my clothes carefully, to look professional. I pack up my laptop, to look professional. I leave my Tuesday gig in Mitchellville, Maryland to scoot downtown, feeling very adult and cosmopolitan. I find an amazing parking spot -- right on campus, across the street from where the class is and in front of a very hip little campus bar. I parallel park on the first try on the opposite side of the street - not my strong suit, so a victory. I am ready, and feeling like a professional speech rock star. Bring it.

I get out of the car and step up to the parking meter. I look up to confirm that I'm paying the right meter for my parking spot when I see it.

On my first day as a new faculty at a major metropolitan university, I have parked my money metal Saturn under a street lamp smack in the middle of campus with not one but two giant penises etched out in the dirt of my big back windshield. While my car was parked at the Mitchellville site, someone took the time to create this masterpiece and had the artistic vision to include big hairs on the testicles.

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