How many of you had bets on about me? What were the odds for burning out at what week, what would my reaction be… I’ll tell you now, the smile on my face has faded slightly. I’m tired, behind in my grading, frustrated with my colleagues, and don’t even ask me how much I’ve been neglecting my fantasy football teams (poor Plunderbuss and The Frumious Bandersnatch)! For the first six weeks of teaching, I kept up my blog each week, was always a week ahead, graded only at school, and had no trouble with my six graduate hours of class after school.
The past two weeks I’ve been a shell of my former self at best: a coffee-driven, alarm-clock-snooze-hittin’, meeting-missin’ machine! It’s been a little rough to say the least. Now, there have been periodic bright spots. After a horrific Tuesday last week, I took advantage of the strangely sunny weather and played nine holes of golf alone so I was free to throw my clubs without fear of scorn. That helped a bit, I got to smash things, smell the fresh air, scream occasionally and, to paraphrase the great Mark Twain, ruined a good walk. That was as bad as it got last week, and I was okay with that. I had a better day after a good night’s sleep, kids were better behaved the next day, and generally my spirits were lifted.
School starts at 8:05 Tuesday-Friday where I teach and last Thursday was no exception. I woke up feeling very rested after having played another round of golf (this time with friends) the night before. I stretched and looked at the clock:
It was 8:10.
For the next 5 minutes my dog cowered under the blankets on my bed shivering in fear as I ran screaming and cursing around my bedroom trying frantically to form logical thoughts. “HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN!? WHAT THE !$%# IS WRONG WITH ME! WHY IS THE !@#% OFFICE NOT ANSWERING MY !@#$^ CALLS!
FINALLY I GOT–sorry, <Caps Lock: off> Finally I got ahold of the librarian to cover my class until I could get there. I was partially relieved, enough to think anyway. Of course it was raining too; I couldn’t speed any faster without worrying about tearing off-road into some serious Missouri mud rivers. I had a low tire too. My steering wheel was shaking like Shakira, and NPR was doing a pledge drive. Worst of all, I had no time for breakfast or coffee.
By some divine act of grace, my parking space was still empty when I arrived. I ran to the door just in time to see one of the assistant principals walk by. “Oh! If I just wait another five seconds, he’ll pass by and never know,” I thought gleefully. As he ducked into another door, I snuck in quietly and rounded the corner to my room. I hadn’t even thought about the students yet.
“How was your beauty sleep?” One asked. My suck-up students were just sitting there aghast in disbelief, horrified that I had slipped up and not knowing quite how to respond except with silence. The room was empty besides the students, so I asked them where the librarian was. They had no idea, she had never been in. At that moment the same assistant principal whom I had evaded previously stepped through the door, greeting me with a smile.
He came in peace, but I read every kind gesture of his as an attack on my character. I was mortified, I’d been found out in the worst way. I was unshaven, hungry, hardly awake, and late to work for the first time in my adult life.
My week was turning back into darkness. I left my kids again on Friday for a cooperative learning training session for new teachers. The weekend didn’t bring much peace as I spent most of it writing research papers for my thesis and dodging people I knew with the swine flu. Still no grading done. Lesson planning? Oh I was flying by the seat of my pants; remember that post on improvisation a few weeks ago? I was there, but in a less exciting way.
Today didn’t start the way I wanted it to either, but things can’t be worse than before (I’m past the point of caring if that kind of statement will jinx me). Week one of teaching was exciting, new, and very fast. Week nine is cold, rainy, and stressful, but I’m starting to find more ways to keep warm, dry, and level-headed.
For those of you who are curious, please check out Grammar Girl’s Swear Words in Text for an explanation of the grawlix. I highly recommend her podcast for any writers and teachers.