At Ease

Would that “at ease” could be a description of my overwrought soul, but that does seem like a bit too much to ask, does it not? I think of it more as a command I have repeated to myself several times this week. School let out the Wednesday before last. Conferences were Thursday and Friday. Graduation was Saturday. I had a grad party to attend. Monday was a holiday, but I spent the morning hours working in my classroom, the lunch hours with the Bible study psychos (we put the finishing touches on II Corinthians and had lunch at Dixie’s), and the late afternoon hours back at school. Tuesday and Wednesday were meeting days (not regular faculty meetings; I’m on this group called the Professional Development Committee). Thursday and Friday I finished cleaning the room and putting stuff in file-folders.

That last is a job that’s never really finished, but I find myself surprisingly close to being disgustingly organized. Right now, everything is in a folder. I have three sets of folders I had to title “file these later,” because there were so many items that needed sub-sorting. Today, I took care of one of these gigantic folders, neatly splitting it up and putting every little thing in its own special place. I know that for a lot of people this kind of thing is easy and doesn’t take much time, but for me it’s agony and very, very slow. I need to take frequent breaks.

The thing is, though, that none of this is stuff that must be done now. Yet I find myself waking up at five in the morning, getting on an early bus, and stressing out (a little) about getting to school. I suppose I’m winding down a little, because every day beginning last Tuesday, I’ve managed to get to school a little bit later and leave a little bit earlier. Still, the thought of spending the day away from school stresses me out. I’m not ready to downshift, for a change. That never happens, except when I can’t possibly allow myself to downshift, as when I’ve taught summer school.

For the past two summers, I’ve taught summer school, which begins just two weeks after the end of the regular year (actually, the past two years it’s been just one week after), and have had to work like crazy just to get ready for that–last year, I was at Kinko’s until past one in the morning getting my school-planners bound and didn’t get home until past two, two nights before the beginning of summer school. Then I was at school until almost ten in the evening the following night, just making sure everything was just right.

Little tangent here: I know we all have jobs that require us to work hard, and a lot of people have jobs that require them to work really hard to get ready to work really hard, but I wonder how many other jobs are like mine, where so, so, so, so very, very, very, very much depends on what happens on one particular day–in my case, on the first day. That first day of school is critical; I have seen the preparation for it drive teachers to tears, including me (and I’m not stretching things here–I have seen teachers sobbing because they have known they couldn’t possibly get things exactly as they’ve wanted them in the waning hours before the first day of school). That night I was at Kinko’s until much too late; I was there past the final bus that could have taken me close to my house. I was a little short on cash, so I had to walk as close to home as I reasonably could so that a cab wouldn’t cost me all I had, and I was carrying what must have been thirty pounds of spiral-bound paper, some in my backpack but most in huge plastic bags that dug painfully into my hands. It was demoralizing, so I stopped for a late dinner at Makiki Zippy’s (okay–if you’re familiar with King Street, imagine walking from University Avenue to Piikoi Street after one in the morning, carrying all this stuff, feeling utterly alone in the world) and then got a cab home.

Little tangent off the original tangent: Yes, I am stubbornly independent, but not that much so. My usual peeps were either out of town or their cars were in the shop, believe it or not. I have a couple of emergency peeps who I know will help me with whatever if I just ask, but I didn’t feel this situation called for calling in the cavalry. I was miserable, but not that miserable.

Three summers ago, I didn’t teach summer school, but I was trying to get this job at ASSETS and interviewed at a few other places, too, just in case. That was a full-time job. And I did teach summer school the two summers before that.

So it’s been five summers in a row where I haven’t really had vacation, at least not right off. I don’t know how to downshift so suddenly and dramatically. It’s going to be a long summer if I can’t figure out how I’m going to do all the things I’ve decided I am going to do.

Pushing myself out the door and getting to school has been good, but as I said, I’m nearly done there. What I really need to do is work on my house stuff, and I can’t do that at school, which is too bad, because it’s much easier to get work done at school. It’s very difficult to get work done at home. I spent all weekend in self-imposed house-arrest, and except for taking out the trash, I didn’t do crap. I didn’t answer email. I didn’t write anything. I didn’t clean anything. I did eat. Too much. I didn’t exercise. I didn’t socialize. I didn’t make it to church. No, wait. I did socialize: I had the annual post-HBA-graduation dinner with the bananas at Dixie’s (that’s twice in a week). Still, I basically turned into a turnip.

Part of me was saying, all weekend, “Good! I need this,” and indeed, I believe I did. Saturday was the first Saturday in TEN WEEKS that I didn’t have something school-related to be at. So I believe I could be pardoned for spending two days in a row basically growing moss. I slept, I ate, I played Yahoo! Literati, I watched DVDs, I watched baseball, I did logic puzzles, I read books. It was pleasantly mind-mushing, even though at times I wondered if I was going to decompose.

Ha-ha. That’s funny. I was decomposing because I didn’t do any composing.

I crack myself up.

Another thing that has given me a pseudo-purpose has been returning DVDs. I have decided that although Diamond Head Video is my first love (Seriously! The foreign film section is a whole aisle of five-shelf bookcases, divided by region of the world and subdivided by country of origin! And $2.50 rentals for five days on non-new titles! And it’s open all day and all night!), Tower Video is going to meet my needs in the near future. $1.49 two-night rentals on older titles, plus it’s a lot more convenient. I have seen The Office‘s first two seasons, plus the first two seasons of Mr. Show. Do yourself a favor and see the former; do yourself another and skip the latter. Anyway, having to get DVDs back to Tower in time has at least given me errands to run and reasons to get out of the house. I lived Spring Break like that, spending entire days running one or two small errands each and just wandering, and I really liked it. Perhaps that’s the way I’ll go with this, except I have to spend more time at home doing the home-stuff.

I earned this. Perhaps more than any other summer off, I have earned this one.

In order to force myself to write something more tomorrow, a list of topics!

  • New Year’s Resolutions Update
  • People I have to send email responses to but have been too busy/stupid/lazy to do so
  • Conflict, Part 3
  • Love life, or Conflict Part 4
  • The Mayor’s crusade against frivolous spending
  • Why Bruce Springsteen is The Boss
  • Season One of Coupling (the original)
  • Hair
  • People I’ve lost touch with and wish I could contact (or, Googlebait)
  • Urban hiking
  • Side Street Inn
  • A good smoke
  • Boxers
  • Deion Sanders vs. Muhamaad Ali
  • Geek life
  • Mayonnaise
  • Pumpkin pie

That’s a lot. Perhaps a week’s worth, he said hopefully.