Things I Love Thursday #53

Strawberry Fields

So folks, as part of my brand new, reclaim-my-life-and-stop-being-a-zombie programme, I have decided to reinstate Things I Love Thursday. Here’s the basic premise in case you’re new, and here’s what I’m loving lately:

The West Wing
Actually, “love” is not a strong enough word to describe my feelings for this show. My long-time readers will know that, in general, I really do not dig TV: I associate it with being too tired to do anything productive, and with self-loathing. I really could live quite happily without a television, even if it did mean never getting to watch the F1. So perhaps unsurprisingly, I have never been the kind of person to get “hooked” on a TV show.
This whole West Wing things is all Lovely Boyfriend’s fault.

Pretty much as soon as we met, he (a massive, massive advocate of TV “as an artform”) started harrassing me about various incredible shows that he couldn’t believe I’d never seen. The more I protested that TV was really not my thing, the more he became determined to find a “gateway” show that would get me addicted to the genre. He knew I’d had a brief fling with The X Files, and so he started with Twin Peaks, which I did really enjoy. But what he didn’t fully grasp was my need for at least one awesome, well-rounded female character — it was only ever Scully, on whom I had a massive girl-crush, who kept me watching The X Files. Twin Peaks may be brilliantly written and dark and weird and fun, but Donna, Norma, Shelley &co are all kind of drippy (I do like Audrey, but she was criminally underused in the show).

However, LB struck gold when he bought me the complete West Wing box set for our one-year anniversary in October. There is so much good stuff about this show: incredibly smart, witty writing, brilliant storylines and plot arcs, and a cast to die for. With every new episode we watch, one or the other of us will spot someone on the Special Guest Star credits and squeal, “ooh, [name of excellent actor] is in this episode! Zie’s so cool!” I’ve also developed the theory that you can tell a lot about someone’s personality by asking them which of the regular characters from The West Wing is their favourite (just as you can by asking them which their favourite Beatles album is. True story).
Personally, I am totally and utterly in love with CJ. I’m really spoilt for choice in terms of strong, well-rounded female characters, which is so refreshing: I also love Donna, Abby and Ainsley Hayes (I can’t stand Amy Gardner’s character and regularly yell at the TV during her episodes, simply because I’d like to think that a woman that shallow, back-biting and frankly dim would never get to be anything senior in any kind of feminist NGO, but hey). There is even regular, sensible talk between characters about prominent women’s issues and gender roles. But to be honest, I’d keep watching just for CJ. She’s strong, feisty, extremely funny, but also flawed and vulnerable. I want to be her.

My students
I’ve been looking back over my old TiLT posts, and I was surprised to see just how often I made mention of the pesky critters in front of whom I am forced to spend my days standing up and saying words. Since I suspended my TiLTing activities over two years ago, I’ve clearly started to take these guys for granted a little bit (in my defence, I reckon it’s understandable considering that well over 50% of them openly admit to having no interest in my subject, but I have to get up at 6am every day to go and teach them regardless). I reckon I need to start cutting the meaner ones some slack, and getting back to seeing each one as an exciting challenge, rather than something to put up with. Here’s an apology to all those of you who’ve received less compassion and understanding from me than I should have given. I promise to be a better teacher from now on. Most of you still passed, so hopefully there’s no hard feelings!

The February mid-term break sees a brand new term roll around. I found out recently that I teach seven lectures a week and have 103 active students on my books. Many of them are heading off into the world in a couple of weeks and I won’t be seeing them again, which does make me a little melancholy. This term I’ve had some great classes and some really lovely students: I was lucky enough to teach Communication in one form or another to two groups of Engineers this year, and they were all fantastic guys. The best classes are the ones where the students are sharp, focussed and want to learn, but who also bring the craic and are willing to have a bit of banter with you. I had an embarrassing first this semester: I’m not a fan of just standing and talking in lectures, but sitting down is awkward when you need to get up and write on the board every so often, so usually I compromise by propping myself up with one hip against a desk. A few weeks ago I was in the middle of saying Something Very Important to my Access to Engineering class when, mid-lean, I realised I had misjudged where my desk was and ended up toppling into the floor, making a not-totally-dignified noise as I went down. In front of certain classes, this would have been The End of All Respect, but the guys were totally cool about it… although obviously they did howl with laughter, as did I. So here’s to my engineers, and all the other cool students who’ve handed me happy moments over the past academic year. Thanks, you guys.

Honourable mentions: Lazy weekend breakfasts // mooching around York // starting a new Moleskine planner // plotting Lovely Boyfriend’s Christmas present for next year already (I’m. so. organised!) // still having tons of Christmas cake left // my netbook (it’s pink and covered in stickers) // the Zombies!!! boardgames // Disney movie marathons with my sister // thai food // getting some sleep after weeks of battling with insomnia

What are you loving this week?

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One Night Stanzas loves mail. Say hello via claire@onenightstanzas.com. NB: I am physically unable to reply to non-urgent stuff unless I have a free afternoon and a cup of tea in my hand. Please be patient!

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