Meetings at work yesterday and today put me in the mind of fall and of all my work commitments that I have blithely pushed to the corners of my mind during this, the Summer of Fun. A forward glance at the calendar last night quickened the back-to-school anxiety. If I'm not careful, any day those dreams will start. You know, the ones where it's the first day of class and I'm supposed to hand out the syllabus and, um, it's gone missing. Or was never prepared.
A drizzly, hazy morning and a coolish, humid afternoon felt more like early fall than late July, and I felt that old sinking heart return. I pulled on my hooded sweatshirt (only in the upper Midwest will you need such garb on July 22, yes?!?) and walked my favorite lakeshore path, hoping to lift my spirits a bit. Perhaps a different soundtrack would've helped, but a dose of Coldplay and Damien Rice did nothing to make me smile.
As I sat on a log and stared out at a steely Lake Michigan, I thought about the class schedule I had started working on today--plotting assignment due dates, and envisioning hours grading papers. I'm trying a few different approaches this year, namely cutting out mandatory student-teacher conferences for the first essay (they make me sick, every single semester, and i'm not sure the benefit is worth the cost, so to speak), and scheduling paper due dates on Tuesdays instead of Thursdays in an attempt to *not* use my weekends for grading. I'm confident that I can make this schedule work, especially since Fall is my "easier" semester, teaching-wise.
Walking back home, I thought about how to maintain positivity and ebullience in the face of negativity and naysayers, and don't have many answers. In many ways, this is the most challenging aspect of any job. (all and any suggestions will be most welcome).
I climbed the stairs to my apartment, warm enough to remove my sweatshirt, and took refuge in the kitchen, cooking fresh, local veggies and pasta, unscrewing a bottle of Layer Cake shiraz, and playing a CD of a band I saw in concert earlier this summer. Eating dinner, I flipped on the television and wavered between Nora Roberts' Midnight Bayou and The House of Mirth. Tonight's *not* a night for poor Lily Bart, though I love her dearly.
As I type these words, my verb tenses shifting, my perspective tilting, I think that it's *not* wise to worry these last five weeks of Summer away. I think it *is* wise to dig in, prepare my classes, and stock up on school supplies (fashionwise and pen and paperwise and pink stapleswise). I think it *is* wise to find that happy, calm core, and cultivate it at will in the face of doubts and negativity and adversity. I think it *is* wise to focus on the students: the new, fresh, eager first year students, who need kindness and challenges, compassion and courage. Just like me.