Archive for the ‘holidays’ Category

After the ecstasy, the laundry

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving break, if you had one.  Mine was pleasant.  I spent about six hours on campus on Wednesday, getting things in order for the week ahead, which will include a big admissions event.  A nice change is that this year I’m not teaching brief sample classes at the event–I usually do, but the English numbers worked out so that we had enough teachers to do the classes and I will have more time to walk around and talk with prospective parents. I enjoy the classes, but I’m glad that this year I’ll probably have a calmer day–unless, of course, someone has a last-minute emergency and I need to step in.  On Wednesday, I also took some time to research summer residencies and made a tentative list of those I want to apply to.  There are some that don’t require letters of recommendation up front, but I think there is at least one that does that I want to apply for, so that’s probably the next step–ask for those.  As always when applying for stuff like this, there’s an awareness that time invested in these applications is time taken away from writing, and the hope that it will turn out to have been worthwhile.

On Thanksgiving morning, I enjoyed a hike with Stubb–I was a little achy, but the physical therapist advised me to get out and walk and move around as much as possible, so I could be confident I wasn’t actually doing anything bad to the muscle.  Dinner was at Stubb’s parents’.

Friday was a writing day!  I went to a yoga class and then (because all the public libraries were closed) moved between coffee shops and worked on my third book manuscript.  Dr. Tea and I had had tentative plans for a writing date, but something came up for her and that was fine–I had a very good time on my own with my book.

Saturday was more like an ordinary weekend day–yoga class, laundry, errands, reading.  I went to an SA basketball game in the evening, a very exciting game which we won.  I had been on the fence about going, but I’m glad I did.

And Sunday I wrote some more, did a tiny bit of schoolwork (I actually need to get up early and do 45 minutes of grading–I suppose I could have done it over the weekend and probably should have, but it was really nice not worrying about it, and I will zoom through it in the morning), went to yoga again (three days in a row!), and went to FLS’s tree-trimming party, where I ate way too much maple-bacon-flavored popcorn.

I have the sense that the glute area is really getting stretched and relaxed–I have been assiduously stretching and foam-rollering, not sitting too much, walking more.  Overall, the pain is less frequent and mostly less acute, although it starts to hurt after a few minutes in the car, and I’m still waking up from the ache–I’m guessing that lying too long in one position is the problem there.  Looking forward to seeing the PT again Wednesday.  The next three weeks will be a big swoosh to winter break, and I’ll need to make sure I don’t get so busy that I don’t make time to work on this.

They should be good weeks, though!  A lot of the big stuff is behind–college recs and teacher observations are all done (except for the parts I’ll need to do for the two English teachers, Lucinda and Dorothea, who volunteered to try out new evaluation processes–but even for them, I’ve already done one observation and writeup each).  Some fun things are ahead–school events and social events.  I’ve got some major papers coming in, but I think they’ll be spread out enough–it would be good to get them all back before winter break.  There’s always some tension about fitting it all in, but it should all be doable. Off to bed now, to wake up early again…

The years (2013)

Last year, winter break meant the end of my one-semester experiment teaching an online MFA class, and I was relieved.  I acknowledged that break is never “the fantasy of the complete break from work and obligation,” but enjoyed having the time to see friends and family, read, and relax.  We visited Stubb on the road again and had breakfast with Elinor.  I reapplied for something I’d been a finalist for earlier in 2013, didn’t get it, and found I didn’t actually mind too much.  (There, too, is something I need to look at this break–upcoming deadlines for residencies and colonies, and decide whether I want to apply to anything.)

The years (2012)

In 2012 I had a bunch of disappointing papers to grade right before the break, but then some time to lie around and read and generally enjoy the break before the Snork Maiden and I headed out to visit Stubb on the road and pick up a stomach bug.  I’m still amazed that he didn’t catch the same thing, considering that we were all sharing a hotel room and bathroom.  I put in some applications for things I didn’t end up getting, and I got ready to join the writing group that I guess I’ve belonged to for two years now.  I don’t get to go every time, but I have met some good writers and I did get great feedback when the group discussed my manuscript in August.  I also note that I submitted some poems, and that reminds me that I really should do some submissions this break, also.

The years (2010)

During winter break 2010, we took a trip to the Southwest that gave us time with PymFan and my aunt from Denver, who met us in Santa Fe. This was the first planned “vacation” the three of us had taken in I don’t know how long–maybe ever. We’d traveled a lot, but usually in connection with someone’s work or making visits to family. And the Snork Maiden and I had done some travel for pleasure, but without Stubb.  So this felt like a really significant winter break–and it was made possible in part by the predictability of the SA schedule, which had also become a shared schedule for the Snork Maiden and me (she started sixth grade at SA that year).  In my post about this trip, I also did a Reverb10 prompt, and rereading the results (“Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010”) made me go back and find Project Reverb in its current incarnation.  I should remember this for next year!

I reflected in that post that I had a really terrific group of freshmen that year, and those freshmen have now all finished up their first semesters of college.  Well, almost all–this fellow will be back from China in a couple of weeks; his college has a January term, so he won’t start until the end of the month.  Quite a few of his classmates dropped by school in the last days before this break.

The years (2009)

Before winter break of 2009, I observed that the students were getting on my nerves, and the seniors were poisoning the atmosphere with their college anxiety, and that I was grateful that I didn’t teach seniors.  Now that I do, I am both more sympathetic and more annoyed.

I set a goal of 50 hours of work on my second book during break, and spent 33.  This year, I haven’t done any writing yet except for Morning Pages, but inspired by Clarissa, I’m going to start a Seinfeld Chain today.

The Snork Maiden got glasses, and I figured out that I was most productive when I was able to get up early (duh, for me).

We got new phones, which means that my phone is five years old, which might explain why it feels so obsolete now.

I read a lot over winter break 2009 and decided to share some of what I had read, inspired by reading through the archives of Mimi Smartypants.  Who is now making I-might-stop-diarying noises, which make me sad.



The years (2008)

Winter break 2008 featured the birth of our youngest nephew, who is turning six this year.

Fall 2008 had been my first fall semester at SA, and the challenge of doing so many things for the first time had left me very much in need of a break.  It’s definitely better now.  And I was screening manuscripts for a book contest.  And I was surprised to find that some high school students give their teachers holiday gifts.  (This year was pretty much as usual: a few Starbucks/Barnes and Noble cards, a few homemade or store-bought treats.)  This was also the year we began a tradition of going to a particular pub/restaurant to hear our caroling friend; I guess this year will be our sixth time doing that?  The Snork Maiden was coming down with something that evening, but I managed not to get sick until break, when I got a cold.  (I have one right now, unfortunately, but it seems pretty mild so far.)


Everyone was saying that going back after this break was surprisingly difficult.  Why so hard this year?  I don’t know. It is so dark outside.  It’s dark when we get up and dark when we get home.  A lot of the kids complained of not being able to go to sleep on Sunday night–out of sync with the school week, I guess.  And some people were getting on my nerves.  I was reminded of what Frederic, in The Pirates of Penzance, tells the pirates when he announces his intention to leave them and wage war against their kind: “Individually, I love you all with affection unspeakable, but collectively, I look upon you with a disgust that amounts to absolute detestation.”

Four-day week

Somehow it always feels like five days of work anyway, just crammed into four days.  This week, though, is surprisingly light on teaching, because my busiest day fell on Friday and won’t occur this week; I’ll meet my classes seven times, twice for double blocks, which works out to just about seven teaching hours.  That should leave a lot of other hours for prep and grading and administrative stuff, particularly since the Snork Maiden has rehearsals after school three out of the four days.  And I need those hours, because I didn’t really do any prep or grading over the three-day weekend.  I’m determined not to feel bad about this, since I needed the break, but secretly I feel like a slacker.

I did spend a few hours over the weekend dealing with an administrative issue, too, which I’ll describe more another time, I hope.


Sick day

Once again, I have a cold on Thanksgiving weekend.  Once again, it’s annoying but not totally debilitating.  I hope that Stubb and the Snork Maiden can dodge it, though.

I’m going to try to finish up NaNoWriMo today, by which I mean hitting my revised personal goal of 25,000 words.  I also need to write a grad school rec letter.  And exercise, once I’ve been upright long enough to be able to breathe comfortably through my nose again.

I’m going to stay home from a family Hanukkah party today.  I showed up for Thanksgiving, but my only outward symptom yesterday was being a bit hoarse.  Today my nose is red and runny, and there will be lots and lots of kids at the party, and older folks, so it would be a kindness to keep myself and my virus at home.


Mr. Rabbit and the lovely present

While, as predicted, my life is significantly calmer now, I’m still fully capable of getting really, really excited about the prospect of a three-day weekend!

Let’s be upfront about this: The house is pretty much a mess.  Actually, there are really just a few centers of mess: the kitchen table, which is where I’ve been piling all of the mail; my desk, which is a shipwreck of papers; and the living room/TV area, which is pretty much the Snork Maiden’s domain, and which she will tidy up when asked.  Other surfaces are cluttered and I would have to do some pretty serious decluttering in order to, say, have anyone over, but I can live with them for a while.

So I think I’m going to make the executive decision that tidying up is not on the docket for this weekend.  This might have the paradoxical effect of getting me to actually do some tidying up, but the main effect, I hope, is that I will be focused on more important things.

And what are these more important things?

Writing: I’m about 2,000 words behind in NaNo, which isn’t bad, considering.  I should be at 18,337 by the end of Monday, which means 6,665 over the next three days, or 2,222 a day–I can do that!  Still having fun.  It helps so much that my focus is on just doing it.  I’m also making some edits to my second ms. and getting it back into contest circulation.

Family time: Celebrating my sister’s birthday, and spending some time with the Snork Maiden.  Planning–I hope–the Snork Maiden’s belated birthday party, which is going to be an excursion to see the new Hobbit movie.  Oh, and taking my six-year-old niece to the middle school play at SA.

Schoolwork:  I could actually get ahead this weekend.  It wouldn’t be the end of the world if all I did was write one Hamlet quiz for Tuesday, but I have to take the Snork Maiden to the SA area twice this weekend–today for her volunteer tutoring, and Monday for five hours of rehearsal on the campus itself–so it’s very convenient to drop in there and do some work.  I can also write there.  As part of this, I do need to put in about two hours on my MFA class.  Feeling better about that right now, though.

Exercise: Ack, I have dropped the ball on this the last two weeks.  But I did finally buy a new pair of running shoes, because my old ones were so broken that I let the Snork Maiden take them on her class retreat and get them all filthy and even more broken.  So I think I will take a gentle run tomorrow, and do my simple workout today and Sunday.