Reckoning

It’s Sunday, and one of my tasks is to look at my library record online and see what due dates are coming up and whether I need to try renewing some of these books.  Apparently I have 25 items out right now, a consequence of my habit of requesting books from other branches via computer and then going every week or so to pick up whatever’s arrived.

Due tomorrow and can’t be renewed: Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist.  I’ve read maybe half of it, probably enough to let it go back and assume it will return to me sometime.  Definitely add to my list of books to recommend the SA library buy, if it hasn’t already.  I might read a little bit more today and tomorrow.  Also, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members.  I requested this after reading somewhere that it was really funny, but haven’t cracked it yet.  I suppose I should try today, since it is short and if it captivates me I can probably finish it in time to take it back.

Due tomorrow and ready to be returned:  Irvin Yalom’s Creatures of a Day: And Other Tales of Psychotherapy.  I have read several of Yalom’s books on psychotherapy and liked them all–this one is no exception.  Such a thoughtful, wise, open intelligence.

Due in four days and can’t be renewed: Two books from the “new and excessively desirable books” shelf, from which you can only borrow for a week: Kazuo Ishiguro’s The Buried Giant and Amy Poehler’s Yes Please.  I am just a few dozen pages into the Ishiguro and am finding it tender and lovely–I might have to buy this for myself.  The Poehler is a fun, fast read with some passages I plan to share with students next year.

Due in five days and can’t be renewed: Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression.  I will probably not finish this book, but I’ll read around in it a little more.  There’s a lot of valuable information and narrative in it.  “Atlas” is right, though; it’s enormous and contains many views of a huge geography.

Everything else is either renewable, uninteresting enough to return, or due later.

Jailhouse blues

One of the most poignant things I’ve read lately is Slate‘s article about a dictionary of prison slang compiled by participants in an education program in a Missouri prison. I particularly like “kite” for an informal message, although I can’t quite plumb the way in which one would be most likely to send a kite–word of mouth, I’d guess?

(WordPress just wished me a “happy anniversary,” which reminded me that my first post here was eight years ago today.)

The first of July

Write, read, answer email, drive the Snork Maiden places, go to yoga, and visit people in the hospital or at home after they return from the hospital (my mom as well as Stubb’s dad–long story but things are improving)–that’s been the past week and will be the week ahead, as far as I can tell.  I keep thinking of posts I want to write and not writing them:

  • Yoga: the first three months of practice; what good teaching looks like; yoga-teacher names; what’s happening with my hamstrings and hips.
  • What it’s been like for the Snork Maiden to take a CC class, now half over;
  • The tenth-grade reading list: in need of revision, but still kind of awesome; stuff I’m thinking about for my classes in the fall
  • The one-day writing retreat I went on with the writers’ group (short version: it was great).

Today is in the same mold as the others: I’ve answered email and will now work on the solicited poem, which is coming along; then I’ll go over to my mom’s; then back to meet Stubb and jointly take the Snork Maiden to her sax lesson, visit his dad in the hospital, and take his mom out to dinner.

Forks in the road

I got some good chunks of work in yesterday on the poem and Dorian Gray.  Didn’t get to yoga, though, as a minor family emergency came up–Stubb’s dad had a fall and cracked a bone in his foot.  He’d driven himself to the doctor (wouldn’t want to bother the kids!) and then couldn’t drive back.  He’s having surgery tomorrow, or so we think.  Good thing Stubb is here for a few more weeks.  (His brother–Sniff and Snufkin’s dad–lives nearby also, so there’s backup.  Brother-in-law and I did the transport-move car-pharmacy run yesterday.)

Today:

  • Morning: poem, Dorian Gray, pick up Snork Maiden from bus stop
  • Afternoon: go to SA, placement emails, manuscript submission
  • Evening: yoga

Captain’s log

For the past nine months or so I’ve been starting most of my writing sessions by journaling for a few minutes (or more).  It helps me reconnect with the work, and it’s a good place to put stray thoughts that affect parts of the book other than the one I’m working on just then.  It also reassures me that I’m doing something even though large parts of my writing sessions might consist of staring at drafts and revising the same line over and over.

Today, though, I feel the need to back out even farther and come here to the blog to plan the day’s work.  I’ve been up since 6:30, but now it’s mid-morning and not much has happened so far–I’ve gotten the Snork Maiden off to class, taken a run and had breakfast.  I’ve got a couple more hours until she comes home, clearly prime work hours, but I am letting them go by–why?

My main writing task for the day and the week is working on a poem that has been solicited for a journal.

My main SA task for the day and the week is reading The Picture of Dorian Gray, which I have never read and which I will teach next year to tenth-graders.

I also have administrivia to handle that would probably be best dealt with in two 25-minute blocks of emailing time, one in the morning and one in the afternoon (to catch whatever responses come in after the morning bout).

After the Snork Maiden comes home, I need to run her to an appointment, and I should probably also go over to my mom’s for a bit, and I would like to go to yoga this evening.  Maybe Stubb could drop me at my mom’s and take the Snork Maiden and then pick me up afterwards?  That might be the best use of time and gasoline.

And I should be sure to take some stretch breaks today, because I need to take care of my hips, especially with the running (I’m going short and slow) and the sitting to work.

Okay, that all sounds very doable.  Weird how much less I can get done when I have less, overall, to do.  On a school day I would normally have gotten at least two hours of work (of some kind–teaching or grading) done already!

Small wonder

Walking into the faculty workroom on Monday, I was delighted to find a couple of people I know from the lower school (kindergarten through fifth grade) working there.  It’s unusual to see them at our end of campus, but with the camp programs shifted to our building, I wasn’t altogether surprised.  I plopped down on the couch and we had some chat, and various people came in and out, and then I came and went several times, as I usually do, putting my lunch in the fridge and getting water and coffee, before I saw the IT folks come in with more computers and it dawned on me that the workroom was actually becoming the temporary lower school office and I was waltzing in and out like I owned the place. I apologized for trespassing and they apologized for taking over the room, and once again I wonder why we never seem to get the memo about this sort of thing.  However, they urged me to keep using the room as needed, which I’ll probably do, just with more consideration.  It’s got the kitchen with the fridge and coffee supplies, and houses the main photocopier for the floor.  The whole thing has a fairly provisional, camping-out kind of vibe, so I’m taking them at their word that they don’t mind my traipsing in and out.

I’m actually quite thrilled that they’re there, because one of the things that kept coming up during our search for a new head of school was a sense that each division is too much its own “silo” (another bit of management jargon, but expressive) and, especially, that the lower divisions can feel disregarded by the upper ones.  A K-12 school is kind of a funny animal, in that some of our students have been here since kindergarten, but others have joined in waves, mostly at the major entry points of sixth and ninth grade.  Their SA experiences can be quite different in character and tone–depending on lots of things, of course, but in part depending on whether this is the only school they’ve ever known.  The Snork Maiden left a beloved elementary school to enter SA in middle school, and that definitely colored her view of the place for a few years.  For other kids, it’s the place where they invented a teenage identity as new ninth graders.   With so many disparate experiences, we can’t really treat upper school as the culmination of an experience that began in kindergarten, since for 75% or more of any given graduating class, it’s not.

Also, to be honest, we don’t have or create many opportunities for collaboration among staff in the different divisions.  There are some people who teach in both middle and upper school, but most people are very much devoted to one division, and there’s a definite divide between middle/upper and K-5.  I have been meaning, since I became chair, to learn more about how we teach “language arts” in the lower grades, but as yet not much has come of this vague intention.  So I’m looking at this office and camp situation as a chance for some casual positive contact with some of my lower school colleagues.  One of them is a former middle-school English teacher, the one we hired Miranda to replace in sixth grade when he became assistant head of the lower school.  Another was, until recently, a fourth-grade teacher, and we served together on the search committee for the new head of school and got to know each other quite well.  She’s going to be away with her husband at his university’s overseas program in Germany in the fall, so I hope we can have lunch a few times before she leaves.

A view from the bridge

The Snork Maiden really only needed me to show her the bus route–when we got off at NCC, everyone else who’d gotten off at the same stop swarmed in the direction of campus, and she turned to me and said, “I think I can find it from here.”  I don’t think she quite grasps how big the campus is (it’s actually bigger in area than GU, our local state university, though it has less than half the enrollment), but I pointed out the building she needed to aim for and went back to catch the bus home.  Tomorrow she’ll take it herself both ways.

She liked the first day of class.  She was surprised the class was so big, although she couldn’t say how many people were in the room–I don’t know what the cap is, but when I taught comp there it was 36, and this is a language class, so it’s probably not much more.  Also, there were people hoping to add.  I wonder how much attrition there will be.

I peeked at the syllabus, which looks good, and clear, and firm.

I had four main tasks on my list for SA, and I got all of them done.  I know that in a couple of weeks I will start to miss teaching, but for now, it’s awfully nice not to have to worry about prep and grading and to be free of the tyranny of the schedule!

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