Everything that can go wrong

Martin Cervantez
Vortex Void
Martin Cervantez Vortex Void

Wednesday, I felt like I was in a never ending spiral of everything going wrong. I was living in the Vortex.

Wednesdays are a tough day for me. I go from one office to another in a non stop whirlwind. This Wednesday, I started the day on a good note. I am working on a budget package for a construction project with my boss. I am pretty sure he throws thing at me because he knows I will be attentive to formatting details when we have to submit to clients. It’s a pat on the back to know that this is valued. The few hours I had to work on it went well enough.

Two days prior, I was alerted to a department staff meeting for my teaching position so I left the construction office early to head to the university. I even had time to stop to get a case of water.

The first step into the spiral was when I realized I forgot to put the Girl Scout cookies in my car. My daughter sold cookies to some students and staff when she was on campus. I was supposed to be her delivery mule. Unfortunately, the cookies were sitting by the door at home.

img_20160211_155140.jpgThe second step down was when I grabbed my backpack out of the car and thought it seemed really light. Did I mention my class was scheduled to have a pin-up of their latest project…with guest reviewers (my reason for buying water). My plan was to print the grading rubric in my office between the staff meeting and the pin-up. I went into the conference room, opened my bag and realized there was no laptop. The light backpack should have tipped me off.

I went to Plan B for the rubric. Borrow a laptop, recreate it, and print in my office as intended. I borrowed a laptop and hunkered down to recreate my rubric. At this point, I am kicking myself for not putting my docs online.

A few minutes into the staff meeting, the department admin comes to tell me one of my reviewers has arrived. I panic a little. I am in a meeting, why is he here? Turns out, he got the time mixed up and was early. Luckily, he didn’t seem too bothered and said he would be back. I returned to my meeting.

I thought my committee report during the faculty meeting would be a slam dunk. However, I received criticism for inviting a speaker who did not actually graduate from the school. I am going to call this my Puffy moment. I didn’t know; the speaker is already invited; people reviewing my work on this project did not say this was an issue, so I am moving forward. We are putting on a lecture series. I don’t how long it has been since public lectures have happened.

The next wind blowing through the vortex to hit me came when I read an email from a student saying the lab was closed and they could not print their documents for the pin-up. Now the alarms were going off in my head. What the?!? Could the students print 11×17 instead of full size? What other alternatives were there to pinning up paper? I jumped in Plan B mode again. The students could present electronically. I left hurriedly out of the meeting, went down to the studio and told the first student I saw that they could present electronically and that I was in a meeting so they would have to communicate to all the students to put their project on a flash drive. There is a PC in the conference room that the students could use.

As the time for class to start was approaching, I was rushing to get out of the faculty meeting. I had to print my rubric. I hoped the the faculty would quickly vacate the room so that my class could use it. I also wanted to rearrange the room.

In addition, my reviewers had arrived. I had to almost plead with a student to entertain my reviewers while I did all of the tasks to get ready for the pin-up. I ran upstairs to print the rubric only to discover that the laptop had died. Subsequently, I had no printed rubric. Plan C, pull up my new document on the conference room screen wasn’t really a good alternative. Thus, Plan D, I wrote the grading criteria on the whiteboard in the room.

I rearranged the conference room. I gathered my students together to get started. The reviewers, after talking to students and a semi-self-guided tour around the hallway gallery came in the room.

I turned on PC to boot up and pull up the images. The screen was purple. Again, what the ?!? Why is the screen purple? I feel the vortex churning. What is my alternative? Do I need to get a projector? Who’s laptop can I use? I mention to my students that I need a laptop. Two students, sort of, speak up. The first who tries to connect does not have the correct outlet for HDMI or VGA. We are now on to Plan B.3, the second student’s laptop has the correct outlet. We plug in. All of the students have their presentations on one flash drive (they initially were going to give me individual drives!).

After apologies to our very gracious reviewers, we finally get started.

img_20160210_145216864_hdr.jpgThe students present. They miraculously finish at the expected time. The reviewers praise them for their work. They also encourage the students to keep getting better and learn from each other. They even spend some time discussing about how we can collaborate in the future. I thank the reviewers for their time….

… and let out a big sigh of relief because it all got done…despite the vortex.