I’m a week into the new term and it’s . . . well, weird.
I don’t have any students who stand out. Not in an academic sense, mind you – I’ve not done much at this point to identify anyone’s ability just yet. Rather, I mean that there are no class clowns, loudmouths, or pains in the proverbial ass. Everyone is quiet. Everyone is respectful. Everyone is studious. My classes are perfect.
When this happens, there are only two (technically, three) words that describe how I feel:
My experience tells me that when the other shoe drops, it’s gonna be a doozy.
We shall see.
All kidding aside, this first week has been pretty good in general. If there has been a problem, it’s in the fact that despite my best efforts to remain on top of things this summer, my first lectures are coated in rust. In fact, even though I wrote these classes myself – created out of whole cloth – I feel like I’m seeing the words on the page for the first time. There’s a creakiness in my delivery, and I can sense a level of boredom and resignation among my students. It’s not as if the good stuff happens on the first day; there’s a bit of a build up that pays off big in the end. The problem is ensuring that folks stick around until that happens, so I may have to do something or another to lighten things up a bit so that they’ll relax – and I can stop being so hard on myself. It’ll take a week or so to find that rhythm, but man, I wish that would happen fast.
Because of scheduling issues, I spend a lot of the day on my own – no conversations with colleagues, no real dealings with anyone who isn’t a student of mine. I don’t really mind this – in its own way, the solitude is comforting – but it feels strange. In a standard year, there are only two or three other colleagues that I’d interact with, so it’s not like I’m the academic version of a social butterfly. But with us all having classes on contrasting days, I don’t see them now, only bumping into people I know when I’m either entering school in the morning, or on the way out at night.
I’ve been alone most of my life, at least from an employment perspective. I was the guy who always got the one position that required me to work alone, usually in some area that people rarely visited. I don’t know how I feel about that, but I’ve always made it work and I’ve had few complaints. But in recent years, this has slowly been wearing away at me, especially now that the “forced” exclusion has extended from work to social activities. I’ve known for years, for example, that my department colleagues meet socially, but will not include me – unless it’s necessary. That happened at a previous non-academic job, too, and in those cases, it was pointed out that my exclusion was actually a sign of respect – feel free to laugh now – because those gatherings were alcohol oriented, and I don’t drink.
I’d accept that, but I’m trying to rationalize why it wasn’t a matter of respect when I was asked to bring in bottles of wine for the last office party.
Oh, I know what’s going on. It’s annoying, but not much more than that. I’m not going to complain; not today, at least. There are so many people in the world with real problems right now; my little list isn’t worth mentioning, much less worth acting upon. I’m thankful right now, and that’s where I need to direct my focus.
Went to get water for my new kettle so that I could have a couple of glasses of that tea I spoke of previously. I rarely get to the cafeteria, and when I do, the prices are such to make me want to put off food for a good while. Eight dollars for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? Really?? I’d make my own lunches, but I usually forget them at home, or worse, forget to eat them until it’s too late to do so. I’ve tried bringing in small things that I could keep in my desk, but I’ve been trying to cut down on sugar and sodium – the two things that most “desk foods” contain. And you’ll be happy to know that the man who has single-handedly kept M&M Mars in business these last few years, has gone for six weeks without a candy bar! I’ve had other sweets, but nothing near what I had when I ate candy, so I’m extremely proud of myself, and I’m not too hot to buy candies for my desk. Right now, therefore, my sustenance has been two large glasses of tea. It’s not filling, but it’s something.
The water station is right next to – guess who? That’s right: Growling Coffee Lady.
She didn’t growl this time; she glared. Suddenly, I feel like I’m in an Ang Lee movie.
Growling Glaring Coffee Lady. On Netflix!
I may have to go to a different water station.