Make Merry

Last Day

Today was my last day of dealing with students for this semester . . . or so I thought. Really, for professors, final’s week is an absolute joke. We get all of the crazy endorphins of thinking it is the end of the semester, when really the semester is in no way over for us. I don’t know how it is for those who teach other subjects, but for English teachers, we have a serious stack of papers to grade after the final. Whoever decided that the test of a student’s competency in writing needed to be demonstrated in a final essay needs to be drawn, quartered and dragged through the streets while we spit on him (or her). Honestly, a simple shooting is too good for this person.

Never mind that I am the one who assigned that essay.

Oh, so back to my students–I thought that after this final, I would never hear from them again, leaving me free to grade their papers as I see fit and prepare for next semester’s classes. I could not be more wrong.

The first hang up was with the student who missed the final. Yes, I just said, “missed.” He didn’t bother to show up. And this was a student who usually shows up to classes. Nonplussed, I administered the final to those students who decided that it was worth their time to take my final.

Shortly after collecting the last final (and this was at 1pm–I had the 1030-1230 final), this absent student showed up at my office. His excuse for missing my final–he overslept. He overslept my 1030-1230 final. Granted, I am slightly skewed in my perception of oversleeping since I haven’t slept past 7am in over two. freaking. years. but 1030 does seem a little excessive. He went on and on about how he’d worked until 1am (usually when I am doing laundry or grading papers) the night before and had stayed up working on another final (in my case staying up all night working means a coughing and sick toddler) the night before that so he just couldn’t possibly force his tired little eyes open to get up for my little puny final.

My friend is noting right now that he can’t believe I let this student make up the final. I can’t either–but I did. Call me a sucker. This student once brought me a pocket periodic table and ever since then, I’ve been pushover.

However, this student wasn’t my only post-final encounter: yet another student decided that she wasn’t happy with the grade she received on a paper and asked to speak to me. As we went over her paper in my office, she completely melted down before my eyes. I’m talking shaking, crying melting down. I was at a loss. I have a hard time relating to people I don’t know well, and this student was no exception. To my ineffectual patting on her shoulder, she explained her tragic (and I am not being sarcastic here; it truly was tragic) family situation. I honestly didn’t know what to do. How does her family drama affect the grade I give her on a paper? Don’t I have to hold her to the same standard as the other students?

I do. And I did.

Somewhere between the running mascara and hugs, we discussed plans for her to rewrite her paper. By this time, I was more than burnt out. I was charred out.

Because I just don’t have the gumption to face some accusing, organically and locally grown vegetables, I made crock pot chicken soup.

  •  vegetable stock
  •  chicken breast with bones
  • onion
  • garlic
  • fresh thyme
  • bay leaf
  • chile pequin
  • zucchini, sliced
  • yellow squash, sliced
  • some light green squash, sliced
  • carrots, scrubbed (not peeled) and sliced
  • yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed (not peeled) and sliced in rounds
  • salt
  • lime

Make a vegetable stock. This can be pretty much any vegetables you have lying around in your fridge and their scraps. Mine was of leek ends, wilted celery, carrots, carrot tops, garlic, onions, thyme, bay leaves, and parsley. There are many ways you can prepare your stock. You can roast the veggies first then boil the heck out of them; you can brown them in olive oil and then boil the heck out of them. Or you can just do what I did and boil the heck out of them with little to no pre-cooking. If you intend to use this stock as a base for a further meat stock, then my way works fine. If you intend to use this stock as the main stock, then you should do one of the other two methods first. It really brings out the flavor of the veggies. I made this stock the night before as I was cooking another dinner. It is pretty simple. Boil and then strain out the veggies. You can then freeze or refrigerate the stock as you wish.

To this vegetable stock (and in my case, in a crock pot), add the chicken, onions, garlic, thyme, bay leaf, and chiles. Cook this for however many hours you are at work. When you get home from work, strain this new stock. You so don’t want all of the fatty mush that develops.

Put this beautiful new broth in a regular pot. Then add the potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil while you shred the chicken. Then add chicken and squash. Simmer until the carrots are tender. Season with salt and lime (better with lemon but I didn’t have it) juice.

Because I am so sick of students and lettuce, I served the soup with steamed beets and sliced avocado, topped with lime juice and salt. I also had tomatoes, basil, fresh mozzarella, salt, and olive oil (aka caprese salad) as another side.

Oh and if you are wondering what happens to the apples in my order, my son eats an apple a day. He’s figured out that while I’ll ignore his whines for goldfish crackers or candy, I’ll always give him an apple.

Not even remotely inspiring, I know; but never fear (in a no way annoying high-pitched squeal), tomorrow is only a day away.

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