Monday, August 24, 2009


This is what fell out of my mouth today at 3:28 PM, as I was slipping syllabi into a folder to take to my 3:30 class on this, the first day of school:


Next to my name on the upper part of the syllabus there was an errant word. That word was ecstasy. Or sort of. Ecstasy was spelled incorrectly.

Yes, that's right. This is what my syllabus looked like:

ENG 101: Composition
2:00-3:30 PM Mondays and Wednesdays

Instructor: Jessica Miller* excstasy

"What is wrong with you?" my office-mate asked. He was way on the other side of the room--his side, the side that is decorated with prayer flags from Nepal and gold Buddha statues. I was on my side, underneath a collage of Ryan Miller photographs and a few Minnesota artifacts: a Maverick cowbell and a salt and pepper shaker set done up to look like Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

"THE WORD ECSTASY IS ON MY SYLLABUS AFTER MY NAME!" I said. "And I have no idea why!"

My office-mate came over and peered at the syllabus. "And it's spelled wrong," he said. "Is that how you spell the version that means the drug?"

"Oh my God," I said. "I don't know. Oh my God. What the hell was I doing that I typed out the word ecstasy--and incorrectly--on my composition syllabus?"

I'd printed and copied that file last week, way in advance of the first-day-of-the-semester copier crush. I'd thought I was pretty organized and smart and ahead of the game. But at 3:28, two minutes before I needed to be in class glowing with my tough-but-charming first day aura, I was realizing I was not in the least smart, not the least bit ahead of the game.

I thought about dashing upstairs to the copier, about bribing whoever was on it--and there would be someone on it--to get the hell off it, but that would take valuable time. It would take time I didn't have. I would either have to go late on the first day, or I would have to walk down the hall, explain to the class that I didn't have their syllabi prepared (thus looking like a scatterbrain, a whack-o, a giant boob) and then tell them to wait while I went to print off a few copies.

"That's really funny," my office-mate said.

"I have class in two minutes!"

"Still funny," he said. "Make sure you show everyone else in the department."

"Oh my God," I wailed. "What am I going to do?"

"I think," my office-mate said, "that you should go in there and turn it into a joke. I think that you should go in there and tell them this is their first lesson--you know, that even when you think you've got everything, that you've edited every bad thing out, it's probable that you haven't."

I stuffed the papers into the folder and ignored the urge to thrust my head through the wall. "I hate myself," I said. "Just so we're clear, I really hate myself right now."

And then I walked into class and did a bit about the wacky professor who accidentally put the word ecstasy on her syllabus! After her name! Right up top, where everyone could see it!

And you know what one of my students said?

He said, "If you hadn't pointed it out, we probably would've just thought it was your last name."

* Anyone totally notice how I just granted myself my future husband's name there? I'm just trying it out.


Joshua said...

can you ask diana to invite me to read her blog? xoxo

Jess said...

You can read her public blog here: