It’s marking time, so I would merely like to mention five ways in which huge piles of marking alter one’s life.
1) Time slows down. You would think it would be the opposite. Wouldn’t the contemplation of appalling piles of essays and exams make the clock race? Wouldn’t the thought “There’s no way I can finish all this in time” actually prompt the second hand to zoom around in a brisk little circle, destroying all hope of finishing before the deadline? But no: suddenly, unexpectedly, there is enough time for everything. An hour becomes a vast blank space in which ever so many things can be accomplished. I believe this is called Being in the Zone. I believe it is also called Sheer Desperation.
2) Procrastination becomes less urgent. It’s sad but true: during Marking Panic Mode, you just work more efficiently. The breaks you used to take every fifteen minutes become the breaks you take every four hours (but only if you finish a certain number of essays during those four hours). You become a marking machine. Two weeks from now, you will not understand how you did that.
3) Sugar becomes a necessity. Forget caffeine; it’s all about the sugar. If you have nothing sweet around, you will go shopping and come home with several mammoth containers of Sour Cherry Blasters and Gummy Worms. You will eat way too many of them as rewards every time you finish a paper.
4) Creativity happens. Despite–or, perhaps, because of–your relative lack of procrastination, you will start to have a series of ideas. If you like to write, they will be ideas for stories. If you are musical, they will be ideas for songs. If you paint, they will be ideas for art. Ideas will teem within your brain, and you will have absolutely no time to do anything about them.
5) Everything that goes wrong will seem both inevitable and trivial. Your watch stops the night before the exam?* Meh. Your shoe’s sole comes loose?** Whatever. An alien spaceship lands on your balcony? Okay, sure, but I have to mark this essay on television sitcoms. The world could be coming to an end; it wouldn’t be worse than those 150 essays sitting on your desk.***
Happy marking, fellow instructors. Reality will reassert itself eventually.
*It is, in fact, the night before the exam, and my watch has stopped.
**This one happened last weekend.
***Or, more accurately, on the floor beneath your desk.