I'm deviating from my usual food-centric blogs to focus on more academic affairs...fear not, the food will return. But for now, although it's the end of the semester, I have work on my mind.
We're a campus of certain traditions, one of which is the annual trek to a local watering hole adjacent to campus, sometime after the last day of class.
Without the usual stresses of class preparation, committee work, and student crises, and away from our tiny campus, we kick back, order a few beverages, crank up the jukebox, and enjoy one another's company.
The place is no-frills, saturated with years of smoke, the walls lined with beer signs and video games.
Now, I may come across as some kind of elitist-arugula-eating-latte-sipping-ivory tower princess.
I do love arugula.
I was sipping a latte when we left campus for the bar. (I set the cup on the trunk of my car).
I know how fortunate I am to have this job, and to be paid to, among other things, read and write. And yet, my campus is anything but the idealized, rarefied, ivoried halls of academia. We're an open enrollment campus, providing a liberal arts education at a bargain basement price to many students who might not otherwise go to college. I spend more time wrangling over punctuation and why citation is important than having deep conversations about, oh, the ethical significance of literature, post-modern theories of narrative and identity, or feminist implications of romance fiction. And that's okay.
And yet, despite these cliched tendencies (arugula-latte-professorness), in many ways I'm still that overly bookish first generation college student. I'm the girl who grew up in the country on a blueberry farm. The girl whose first car was a 1973 Chevy Nova, and every car thereafter a General Motors classic (my grandpa is a GM retiree).
My point is, I can fit in most anywhere. One weekend I'm sipping fruity "martinis" at the poshest bar in town and the next weekend I'm at the beer joint.
Though I don't usual drink beer, I decided to sip a few Champagne of Beers (lite).
My role was to keep the digital jukebox stocked with fun tunes:
First Set: following up on last week's trip back to the aching, heartfelt years of power ballads and hair metal, I selected a variety of classics:
when I see you smile; finally found the love of a lifetime; more than words; talk dirty to me
Second Set: chosen along with friends B and B, including two hits by B's mancrush, JT:
rock your body; sexyback; single ladies; it's the end of the world as we know it; add it up; sabotage
Third Set: chosen along with J and C
billie jean; mr. brightside; and some other songs I don't remember...
Now, our sets were intermittently interrupted by the choices of other patrons, including curtis lowe, poker face, and, inexplicably, paradise by the dashboard light (a song to which i know a choreographed dance. and which i may have, kind of, danced).
Our conversation flowed, and we left the cares and worries of work behind. It felt good to laugh, to sing, to dance a little. We talked to one of the other patrons, who wondered exactly what professors do, and gave us the thumbs up and the devil sign after we told him we teach. Towards the end of the night, the bartender played a rather nasty Nickelback (seriously?) song and told B and I we should listen to the words because "It has a good message." Um, yeah. If you don't mind a little misogyny.
I have many incriminating photos of my friends, but I vow not to out anyone else on my little blog space.
My work is all over but the grading. I'm officially off contract (and therefore no longer being paid) on the 26th. It's almost time to attend to those other, more esoteric interests that are part of the professor life--reading and writing academic scholarship; reading for fun; writing for fun; planning new classes; learning French. It's almost time to allow each day to take shape organically, to frolic, to enjoy long walks and fresh meals, to read all day long if I so choose.
I can't wait.
And yet... I already miss my colleagues, nay, my friends. We scatter over the summer, our daily contact and routines reduced to sporadic EVENTS. I miss my students, who have left me kind notes and pleasant surprises all week: a bar of handcrafted soap, an amnesty international pin, a paper hat.
It sounds trite, but I really love my work. Most of the time, but especially now, when the year comes full circle, and I reflect on the stories and setbacks, the tales and triumphs, before starting all over again.
wearing my professor glasses and my "reading is sexy" tee