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.
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.
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.
One more day of break–we go back on Tuesday. I am pleased to say that I have managed to recapture the vacation feeling somewhat, deciding that I’m going to be busy anyway when we go back, so I might as well enjoy the time I have now. I wrote today and also finished one of my vacation books (the excellent Terra Incognita: Travels in Antarctica, by Sara Wheeler). I’ve also decided to plan some specific treats to look forward to outside of work, like yoga class on Tuesday night and watching Sherlock with the Snork Maiden on Wednesday (and maybe something a little more exciting than either of those?). I do tend to let the work week dominate and to make the rest of my week serve that, but why should I? I know what a pleasure it is to look forward to something after work, and how much it will help, going back. Meanwhile, I will do some prep Monday, but I am also having friends over for brunch and going to a museum. (Avaunt ye, end-of-vacation blues!)
I wonder how many of my posts here have been about school breaks. Lots, I’m sure. During breaks I have more time for blogging and reflection, plus I remain obsessed with time and how to use it.
I have issues with winter break and spring break. I generally have grandiose plans and they are never fulfilled as my fantasies specify.
This winter break, we stayed close to home (well, except Stubb, who’s just left for an out-of-town gig). The Snork Maiden dogsat. I didn’t read as much as I expected to, but I did read some. I have been to seven yoga classes so far, an average of one every other day. One museum. A few holiday parties, including an open house we held, and Hanukkah at my mom’s tonight. Haircuts for the Snork Maiden and me.
The grandiose plans this time were mostly focused on “catching up” on school stuff, but “catching up” is a misleading phrase–it would be okay if it were just about the few piles of small assignments I didn’t get around to grading before the break, but in my imagination all sorts of things get attached that can’t actually be acted on when school isn’t in session–conversations, meetings, emails that I meant to have or do or send. I should recognize that with the way my job is currently constituted, I’m unlikely to ever feel completely “caught up”–there’s always something else I could be thinking about. It’s one of the few things I miss about adjuncting–the sense of being done and off the clock at the end of a term. (Even then, of course, there was a new term to be planned for–but in my memory my 2YC classes seem to have just repeated each quarter, with less new prep than there actually was.)
Anyway, today I am digging into some of that stuff so that I can bring my anxiety level down–for some reason it peaked in the predawn hours and I found myself lying awake fretting about some very small potatoes indeed.
I know I’ve had at least the lite version of Love, Teach‘s Sunday Afternoon Megasad Life Hole, so even though it’s spring break, I’m saving this to read–maybe the Sunday before we go back from break.
Meanwhile, a lot of life stuff has risen up to claim my spring break. I will write and do yoga, however. I may not get to have a book orgy, a trip or a lot of catching-up time with friends, but I’m definitely writing and doing yoga. Starting today.
The first day back after winter break was a bit of a shock to the system–one forgets how much energy it takes to be among so many people! Lucinda wryly observed, “This is harder than sitting in my living room in sweatpants, playing with my two-year-old.” Yeah, this was harder than lying around reading and occasionally going to a yoga class, writing poems, doing a bit of housework, and all the other things I did during the break. But we’re up and running now.
The first summer application is nearly ready to go–it’s the paragraph about the current project that I’m not happy with, but I’ll get there. I might have finished this evening except that I spent forty-five minutes on the phone talking down a worried relative who is a parent of a high-school senior who is freaking out over college stuff despite already having a couple of great acceptances to schools that are hard to get into. Really feeling frustrated about the way that kids and parents get caught up in the college admissions frenzy. Realistically, kids at this student’s school, like kids at SA, get good preparation and good advice, and they all get into multiple schools and have good choices–they are very fortunate by any measure. But some of them–some of the very strongest students–define success as this or that Name School and in their minds everything rides on that. This student could be happy with her acceptance to a school that rejects over 85% of its applicants, but she is in anguish over the possibility of not getting into a school that rejects over 90%.
It just seems like such a waste of emotion. But of course I am not 17. I am much older and I have applied to so, so many things. I’ll send this one off and I’ll dream about it a bit, but mostly I will focus on other things. If I get it, I’ll be thrilled (and panicked about logistics). If I don’t get it, I will sulk for a day and be done.
And I know that teachers at places like SA are somewhat complicit in the whole dynamic–but truly, I believe that kids should go where they will thrive, and I define college admissions success as finding the right fit that you can afford. I try to hit the exact same notes of congratulation and excitement with the kids who tell me they got into Podunk College as with the kids who tell me they got into Fancypants U. And in fact it comes naturally–I can see certain kids will blossom at PC who would be lost at FPU.
I hope that I look at this post in a year, when the Snork Maiden will be in the thick of it all, and feel the same…