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!)
Archive for the ‘vacation’ Category
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.
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…
Feeling stuck today and haven’t managed to get unstuck yet. I had a writing date, ostensibly, with Dr. Tea in the café at WholeFoods, but as it turned out we were both having rough days and just ended up talking over coffee. Funnily enough, I had been writing in the morning, and what I think now is that I wrote myself to somewhere both exciting (because I’m interested in where it’s going) and frustrating (because the project keeps unfolding in surprising directions and seeming less finished the more I write).
My niece (who is 8, born the summer I started this blog) is spending the night tonight and going to a family yoga class with me in the morning. Stubb and the Snork Maiden are away. Niece is asleep and I’m scrolling through Facebook and seeing, among the political posts and the funny ones, quite a few pictures of people’s late-summer vacations and last-chance weekends away. I’m finding myself suddenly sharply envious of the ones who are spending a week settled down somewhere with relatively little to do–a cabin in the woods, a condo at the beach, even an over-the-top luxury resort (there are two in my feed right now–one in Hawaii and one somewhere in southern California).
And, embarrassingly but undeniably, I’m feeling petulant about not going anywhere for something vacationlike this summer. I was away for my usual conference, and there are many pleasures associated with that, but unscheduled downtime is not one of them. I had planned a trip in July to stay in a rustic little AirBnB cabin for almost a week, having solo time to write but also visiting with a friend teaching at a nearby low-residency and another friend in a city two hours away. But I ended up cancelling it because of issues with my mom’s and Stubb’s dad’s health. That was the right decision, but because of the way I’d planned the summer, there wasn’t another chunk of time to devote to something similar–and the residency week was over, so it would have had to have been somewhere else. (I also lost the AirBnB money–the place had a fairly strict cancellation policy, which makes me a little more wary of AirBnB in the future. Got the plane fare back, though, because I bought trip insurance, which I rarely do.) Also, I’m not sure even now that I’d feel really okay about going anywhere, since Stubb is away for work, and while my mom is fine now, his parents are still having a somewhat rocky time.
I really am excited about going back to school, but at the same time, I really wish I had had a bona fide vacation trip. (I have also recently read several articles about the importance of taking vacations and recharging in general. Maybe I should just get off the New York Times and Facebook.) I just spent a little time looking at the possibility of a weekend away, either right before school starts, or on one of the first weekends of September. I remember enjoying a quick getaway with the Snork Maiden in 2009 and feeling refreshed by it even though it was quite short.
I feel a little sheepish complaining about this–I know I get more trips than a lot of people–but what is this blog space for, if I can’t complain about stuff that bugs me? Also, the subject of how to take care of myself is not a trivial one. I work hard and I show up for other people–Stubb, the Snork Maiden, relatives and friends–when they need me.
There have been good parts to this summer: lots of reading. A decent amount of writing–and a very supportive and enthusiastic response from my writing group to the section I gave them in July. Leisurely time with friends. Even some nice close moments during the various health crises–it’s good to be able to be there for people when they need you. Some lovely Snork Maiden time (not much with Stubb, though–he’s been away a lot). Continuing to develop a yoga practice. So I know I’ve benefitted from the time away from school and will come back at least somewhat restored. Planning a little break will probably give me an additional boost–and in the meantime, staying off Facebook is not a bad idea.
Aaaand yesterday I came down with a cold. Not a terrible one–a stuffy nose and intermittently clogged ears are the main symptoms, and I’m hoping it doesn’t morph into other versions, as colds sometimes do. Last night I even had one clear nostril at all times, for which I was grateful.
It came on a few hours after the yoga class–which was otherwise a friendly introduction to yoga, but I did wonder if I’d somehow redistributed my fluids with all those unfamiliar poses in order to wind up with a headful of snot!
I also hope that I didn’t manage to give the cold to my mom, whom I drove over to Stubb’s parents’ house for a little condolence visit. Or to Stubb’s parents.
Today I rejiggered my to-do list, uploaded some financial aid forms for the Snork Maiden’s music camp (not sure we’ll get FA, but worth applying), handled a bit of SA correspondence, ordered new glasses, and spent far too much time on Facebook.
I also realized that while I’ve been pleased about staying connected with my current book project via a series of Seinfeld chains, I have been moving among poem drafts much more than I did while writing my first two book manuscripts. This is partly a function of the way this book is meant to work: it has more of a narrative arc (which is its own problem) and so I am sketching in pieces of it and thinking a little less in terms of each poem as a completed artifact. However–I am generally all about the poem as a completed artifact on its own, and this chain of blurry drafts is disconcerting to me.
Maybe I need to be disconcerted. Maybe I need to think about whether this is all one long poem–that was one thing that interested me very much about reading Hirsch’s Gabriel, although I think I understand how that poem’s form serves that poem in a way that’s very particular to its subject matter and speaker.
I was thinking, though, that a good writing goal for the rest of the break would be to select a little group of poems that work well together, that could eventually be submitted together and make sense as a group apart from the longer narrative arc of the book, and pull these through to what I will call, oxymoronically, “finished drafts”–not finished poems but a group of drafts that have plausible beginnings, middles, and ends, even if they will still go through more drafts afterwards.
So I think that’s what I will do. Six days left of break = six finished drafts. Let’s see what happens.