I've always had a hard time with the transition from creative time to back-to-school time. Yes, teaching is a creative act, but the energy it requires, and the focus on others, take one out of the meditative mind.
I always tell myself I'll carve out time for myself, my work, but that space slips away in response to meetings and student demands. One wants to be considered accessible (without actually being so!)
So back I go, tomorrow, to the biggest time-waster of all--the department meeting. Ours is not just a meeting, it is a "retreat." This means that it takes a full day of blather about rules, regulations, and minor changes in policy. For awhile, they took us away from our cars--and bussed us to the meeting site. I started to sweat when that happened, and finally said, "I'm not able to be separated from my car." I think I must have muttered something about how "my people" had been moved en masse in the past, and historically, that had not worked out well for us.
Now we're at Calhoun's, a rib joint on the river, and there's no car-separation-trauma. But the meeting itself is so boring, so boring, that I can't decide whether I would prefer sedation or cocaine. Some of my colleagues step up their Prozac for these meetings.
Tomorrow is not as bad as usual, though. I get off early to go to a luncheon with author Jeanette Walls, of "The Glass Castle" fame. She's the Life-of-the Mind speaker, which concerns itself with freshman well-being. After lunch with the author, I'll go to the office and with luck, copy my syllabae. And with no luck, I'll go to Kinkos and pay for the copying.
Then I go get a facial. It's my shallow way of facing Tuesday, when we spend all day in meetings with the English Department. In the late afternoon, we have informal gatherings with the grad students. Hopefully they will let us buy drinks for the students.
You probably have a much better attitude about returning to work. You're healthier and more cheerful than I am, and you probably treasure those moments with your colleagues and the xerox machine. You know you're lucky to have a job, and to have such a great job, where you get to interact with creative, book-loving people all day long. I have some of the best writers in the country in my classes.
When I look at it that way, it's not so bad. It's just that I've been on teaching leave and writing poetry every day for 8 months. I've lived in Southwest France and on the Big Island of Hawai'i. I've woven a musical and linguistic cocoon out of my thoughts and feelings and sensations. It's made of the silkiest silk. And now, I have to emerge, not as a butterfly, but as a mature working woman--the Professor! Can I at least wear a small orchid in my hair? Aloha!
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.