A banquet of consequences

Hi!  Is anyone still reading this thing?  I knew I hadn’t posted in a while, but I didn’t realize “a while” = more than four months.  The Snork Maiden went to college, I visited her in October, she came home for Thanksgiving, and she’ll be back again in three weeks when her semester is over. I have missed her a lot, but it’s gone fast nonetheless.

My book came out, and I’ve been doing readings and events, so that’s made the time go fast, too.  I’m writing, but a lot of the limited time that I’m able to devote to that during the school year has gone to bringing-out-a-book activity. I’m glad, though, to have events to do to support the book.  I also have a one-week residency lined up toward the end of next summer, and I’ve applied to one other colony.

The school year is bouncing along as usual.  It feels maybe a little bumpier than usual for me because of several absences for readings and events and visiting the Snork Maiden.  And for two funerals, one for a friend and one for a relative. And, honestly, I think the Outside World is really wearing on everybody, kids and adults alike.

I’m coming back here to post, of course, because it’s Sunday of the long holiday weekend and, as usual, I’ve had some bouts of Sunday gloom. We only have two weeks left before a big paper is due, and I’m recognizing, with this project, that I have a lot of anxieties about this kind of writing (persuasive, research-based) that I need to get a better handle on so that I can help the students engage with and even enjoy it.  Some of them are really into it, but others are floundering.  Mostly, my feelings are about how very imperfect most of the results are likely to be. If I were advising someone else, I would reframe those imperfect results as part of an important process–so perhaps I can advise myself and calm the heck down.  Anyway, it’s worth a try.

I have various administrative responsibilities pressing on me, and worries about Stubb’s parents, and feelings about having said goodbye to the Snork Maiden again (although she’s really doing well, and it’s hard to be too sad about her not being here when it’s making her happy to be there).

But!  I have several hours of Sunday afternoon, and a fun plan for this evening–two excellent conditions for getting myself into a good position for the week ahead.  I have been to yoga class, so I’m feeling good in my body.  And I’ve decided that I need to take especially good care of myself these next two weeks, so that I can stay healthy and keep giving people–my family, my students, my colleagues, my friends–the attention and care they have the right to expect from me.

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The roundabout papers

Seven weeks later.  It’s been a good-but-odd summer so far.  I still tend to regard summers as experiments in how to make summer work best for me, but then I suppose that’s my attitude about a lot of what might be described as normal life.

Good, because I have had some fun, seen some friends, done some writing, and gotten some other work done.  Odd, because this is the summer that ends in the Snork Maiden’s departure for college.  So there’s a strong sense of an era ending or perhaps having just ended.  There’s also a fair amount to think about and take care of–from tuition payments to strategizing with her about what she will take, ship, leave behind.

One of the best parts has been a solo trip on which I got to stay with PymFan and Mr. PymFan and also to spend some good thinking and writing time by myself.  This began about ten days after school ended, and I love the timing of that–even better might be about a week after the last meeting, with a few work days in which to tie up some loose ends and then peace out.  The trip was a little more shadowed than I’d have liked with a possible emergency-hire situation, and I also had to do parts of an online training while I was away, but it was still pretty great.

The Snork Maiden’s transition to being a college student who doesn’t live at home most of the time is also making me think a lot about what I want my life to be like when I’m someone who doesn’t have a child living at home most of the time.  One thing I want is to be more intentional about seeing friends, both nearby and far away.  All of those “someday” trips and visits–I definitely have the sense that the “someday” window is getting smaller.  Recent illnesses and injuries of friends, and a death in the family last year, have also reminded me that no one knows how much time she has.

With the book coming out, I am actively planning travel that will take me near people I want to see.  I’m also looking at planning farther  in advance–which seems a bit easier now that the Snork Maiden is more in charge of her own life.

Anyway, that’s been this summer so far.

The beautiful changes

It’s kind of amazing that Richard Wilbur is 96 years old. (A collection of his poems furnishes me with this post’s title.) Just before the AP, my students and I read his 1949 poem “Juggler,” which was the subject of last year’s AP Lit exam’s poetry analysis essay.  I don’t have anything to say about it except that we were all struck by how weary it sounds for having been written by a 28-year-old man.  (Not that a 28-year-old man can’t or shouldn’t feel weary, in 1949 or at any other time.)

I’m creeping back to the blog today because I feel the need of it, need to get my mind around this time of year again. I was out of town for some of the holiday weekend, returned Sunday night, haven’t done much today, Memorial Day, except some grocery shopping and putting in an appearance at a cousin’s graduation party.  There’s a lot to do, schoolwise and lifewise, but there’s also a sense of loosening–the regular schedules are dissolving, with a couple of special days for review before exams begin, and then exams, and the last rushed day of farewells, one strange weekday without any school, and then graduation. A final day of meetings, and then we’re launched into summer, except for the long tail of the school year.

Maybe now is the time for one of those summer charts?  I have been feeling a bit stuck on what I need to do now, but maybe some looking forward will help me unstick?

The edge of everything

I wanted to sleep in today, the last day of break, but I woke up early anyway and there were the usual anxious thoughts about going back to school and oh well I guess I’m awake now.  That was a few hours ago, and I have enjoyed my coffee and the paper and done some prepping and am feeling a little better.

A couple of days ago I did something I haven’t done in quite a long time–I applied for a job.  Sort of.  That is, I reworked my CV and sent it to someone I know who teaches in GU’s adult ed program to pass along to the director, on the theory that I might like to do some teaching of creative writing to adults again.  (I did one semester in an online program but didn’t particularly enjoy the format, about three years ago, and it’s been almost four years since I left NLNRU.)

It’s weird how ambivalent I felt about the whole thing, I think mostly because it reminded me of being contingent faculty and always looking for more and better work.  I had to remind myself that I was doing it because I think it’s something I would actually enjoy, because it could add something to my life, because it would keep that kind of teaching on my CV and keep me growing as a teacher.  I don’t have to do it, but I think I’d like to, if the scheduling works.  It feels a little odd.

Long weekend

Trying to reframe these last three days of break as a long weekend, which always sounds so luxurious, rather than as the last little scrapings of spring break.  My horoscope today informed me “You’re not always your own best babysitter,” and advised me to seek help in staying accountable to my goals.  Since I’m not above being advised by a newspaper horoscope, I have made a plan to work at the public library with Dr. Tea for a couple of hours this afternoon, and suddenly the rest of the day seems magically planned–I will do just as much schoolwork as necessary to set myself up for a productive couple of hours in the library, and other things I want to do (including work on a poem) will happen in the rest of the morning.  I’ll go straight from the library to pick up Sniff (aka Nephew #2, now 9 years old) from a friend’s house–he’s spending the night while his parents go out of town.  (Older brother Snufkin is looking at his college choices–like the Snork Maiden, he’s a high-school senior.)

Terrible back-to-school dream last night–I had all new students and two of them used wheelchairs and somehow the new classroom was in an inaccessible tower!  Also, as I was getting class underway despite these obstacles, I realized that a video camera had been set up and was recording everything.  I turned it off and wanted to demand an explanation for these changes, and particularly for the complete lack of advance notice about any of them, but there was no one of whom to demand.

Another spring break

I’m meeting up with Dr. Tea and the GGE today for lunch at a cafe in my neighborhood–Dr. Tea is coming here and we’ll walk there.

Before she arrives, I’m putting in some solid work on spring break projects, which include catching up on some of the things I didn’t get to deal with at school last week because of the professional absence.  There’s also writing, book-launch preparation, and proposing an AWP panel.

The Snork Maiden is away for a few days on a road trip with friends–a sort of preview for Stubb and me of what it will be like when she is away at college, not just because she won’t be here, but because we won’t know much about her movements.  She has been checking in occasionally, and we’ve seen a few posts on Snapchat–which is excellent for stalking your teenager, by the way.

Begin again

Oh hai.  I’m still here. Like my friend What Now?, I’m thinking it might be good to get back to blogging more; I could use the reflection time, since politics have me…reacting a lot..  Unlike WN?, however, I’m not on break yet.  Two more weeks to go.  And an exciting but inconvenient three-day professional-development-related absence right in the middle of those two weeks–so I’m spending quite a bit of this bleary Sunday after the Daylight Savings “spring forward” planning the next several days of grading, prepping, and sub plans.

Before I knew about the absence, I signed up to chaperone a concert right before it, which now seems fairly inconvenient but not quite worth trying to find someone to swap with.  So a fairly demanding week is going to end at about 9:30 PM on Friday, several hours too late, if you ask me.

Things in my small world are basically holding steady.  One small mercy seems to be that we might not need to hire this year, which, if true, probably gives me 30+ hours back this spring as compared to my previous springs as chair.  However, not needing to hire is predicated on the expectation that both of our colleagues on maternity leave–Dorothea, who had a baby in January, and Romola, who had one last week (a while in the making, not quite on the timeline she anticipated when I first mentioned the possibility)–return to school full-time in August.  Each says that’s her plan, but would we be shocked if a baby changed someone’s plans?  It certainly wouldn’t be the first time.