Sunday, May 15, 2011

And like that, I'm done

I'm glad the semester was over. This was less tough than many semesters, but still tiring.

(And of course, at the end, there was some craziness - a student who was getting an I from me for some reason thought she had to go and request it personally from the dean, which apparently upset the dean, because the dean is very into chain-of-command and doesn't seem to like random people coming into her office for stuff. So I had that little fire to put out. This is a student, I will say, who has a history of misunderstanding stuff.)

I'm not teaching this summer- I need some time off to work on research and to revamp some of the classes I teach. And also, I just am tired of the hectic pace of summer teaching - the constant go, go, go of teaching every day, and teaching longer hours each day, and having to STILL find time for those 10 hours of office hours a week.

I barely remember the summers of my childhood - I haven't a non-working or non-taking-college-classes summer since, I think, I was 15.

What did I do with my time? I know I read, I know my mom agreed to making twice-weekly trips to the library (during the school year, they were weekly trips). I guess I ran around outside a lot, climbed trees, looked for bugs, picked wild strawberries (we had a lot of wild strawberries - the good, edible kind - growing in the field behind our house. There's another species of wild strawberry that is technically edible but has a wooden texture and tastes horrible - I learned that as an adult). When I was younger, I would play in a sandpile with my plastic zoo animals, or play elaborate imaginary games with my friends. Or with other friends, I'd play Kick the Can and huge, neighborhood-wide games of Hide and Seek, or we'd go "exploring" in an area that had been plotted off to be a housing development, but which was never built. (I remember how eerie it seemed, especially the first time I went there - there were all the streets in place, the lampposts, the concrete driveways already poured - but no houses.) Or with my friend Liz, we'd go to a creek we knew, and try to catch frogs, but usually just wind up getting muddy.

It wasn't quite what some people have described - where they left the house after breakfast and didn't come back until dinner - and it wasn't as safe as it might have been in earlier years (when I was a young teen, in the early 80s, that was when there was a rash of kidnappings of young teen girls. While my parents didn't FORBID me from roaming the neighborhood with my friends, I think they were more mindful of where I was and when I was supposed to be back. And I was enough of a worrier that I started sticking closer to home.

I also did a lot of craft projects in the summers - built dollhouses, sewed doll clothes, did embroidery, did some of the typical kid-crafts like drawing on a plain white pillowcase with crayons and them my mom would iron it - so the design was at least semi-permanent. I went to day camp a couple of years and learned to play tennis and got over my fear of swimming in deep water and got to hang out with my friends from fairly early in the morning (I still remember the mist rising off the playing fields of the campus where we had day camp) to lunchtime.

It probably seems more idyllic than it actually was - most kid memories are. But I can still remember the magical feeling of going home after The Last Day of School on the bus. (Some years, the bus driver did the route "backwards" - stopping first at what would have been the last house on the route). The feeling of having the summer open up in front of you like a blank piece of paper in Art class, or like the start of a movie you've been waiting to see for a long time...

I will be working this summer, just more to my own schedule. I guess I still feel a tiny bit of that expectant feeling, the sense that summer is an blank book waiting to be written in.

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