Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Willow and I are each teaching two courses this semester, she on MWF, and me on TR. And we decided that instead of putting Junebug in daycare at 11 weeks, we'd share childcare at home this year.

It's only the third day of classes, but it's clear that this semester will be different from previous ones. So far today, instead of writing, reading, lesson planning, grading, or corrsponding with students, I've taken the twins to daycamp (they start Kindergarten on Tuesday), fed Junebug, rolled around on the floor with him during for some tummy time, gave him a bottle, rocked him to sleep, did some dishes, and folded some laundry.

It's not that I resent doing the work itself--certainly these tasks were in the short term more satisfying to have experienced and accomplished than revising a page or so of a chapter first drafted six years ago--but I am getting paid to work the equivalent of a full-time job, and I wonder about my ability to actually do that job this year. Willow has the same worries, too. the novel she's 200 pages into hasn't gotten much attention since Junebug was born, nor have the short stories she's been pecking away at in the interim.

There's a real push-and-pull here, one no doubt experienced by most dual income households, the negotiation of free time, tiny resentments that might develop over this hourlong span or that, or forgetting that the adults in the house need to spend time with each other, too.

Junebug is napping at the moment, and with some chores done, I've taken a moment to blog, and not to fix the pagination on the collection manuscript, not to prep tomorrow's classes (William Blake followed by Susan Glaspell), not to peck away at that chapter...But what I really want to be doing right now? Napping right alongside the boy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Anticipation and its absence

For many years running (like maybe 30), I have looked at the week before school starts in much the same way as kids look at Christmas eve, like the good stuff is just about to begin. That, and I generally hate August, when the heat has worn out its welcome, and the allure of lawn work and summer jobs that dominated May seems unfathomable now.

But it was a cool, wet summer, our lawn at the new house is much smaller and flatter than the old one, and I have just spent the last two months enjoying a new baby, briefly trying to get some momentum on my writing, and then giving in entirely to the quotidian joys of domestic stupor.

So for the first time in as long as I can remember, not only am I not overjoyed and and overprepared for the wave of students moving into town, and the services I shall soon render them, I am approaching next week's new semester with, if not dread, then at least apathy.

Of course, in addition to this lovely summer I've just spent (really, the nicest summer I can remember) there are other reasons to feel less excited: I'm teaching two preps at the 200 level, both of which I've taught several times before, here and elsewhere. And while I'm mixing them up a bit to keep from falling ton too much of a rut, I'm not doing anything really innovative to get the juices flowing. And with a drop off in expected service responsibilities (how did THAT happen?!?), I don't have a truckload of material to sink my novelty-loving teeth into just now.

I couple with this a felicitous confluence of events--some publications coming out, some acceptances falling into place, a really good year of course evaluations, and the successful completion of some really significant service work--all in a department with very humane expectations. And so, hubristic though this may sound, I've stopped worrying about tenure a year before my critical year begins.

So the excitement and anxiety and anticipation and butterflies that usually make the coming weekend one of my favorites of any given year are absent, which wouldn't you know it, makes me a bit sad. Because if I get bored with thing that I do here on this campus, I will stop being any good at it. and being both bored and mediocre at my job is about the worst thing I can imagine for myself.