..but I think Cathy put out the last of the fires about 30 minutes ago (our magnificent office administrator, Lori, realized that there was a course filled with students but with no professor). I spent a lot more time today working on adjunct stuff than I'd hoped--when I went in, there were a couple of small fires that needed to be put out before I could even start doing the counts of how many sections we had to offer versus how many sections were requested. Just for the record, the answer is: we had 70 unassigned sections--and requests for 138 sections. We canceled something like 48 sections. The goats really got their jollies this time around.
I did, however, get a chance to make the photocopies for the first day of class--and a tiny bit beyond, I think. My files are a mess; there are still about a dozen significant bits of work I need to do to have everything really ready for the start of the semester, and countless little gnat-type things that I have to swat so I'm not driven to distraction.
I know myself: I am not naturally very organized, so I have to impose ferocious levels of organization on myself, or I'll quickly lose track of where I am and what I'm supposed to be doing. The only frustration I had at all working with Cathy on all the scheduling stuff was that she's somewhat the same way: she kept getting distracted by X when we needed to focus exclusively on Y, and we spent a fair amount of time reminding ourselves and each other of decisions we'd made, why we'd made them, that sort of thing. But I will say that she did a remarkably good job of remaining good humored in a real trial by fire. Talk about shot out of a cannon... I have nothing to complain about, by comparison.
Of course, that doesn't keep me from complaining. I said this morning that I am aware I am bitching about being gainfully employed doing something that I care deeply about and being paid well to do it. I am blessed beyond all measure and should do nothing but offer my profoundest gratitude to the universe for allowing me to have the life I have. And as soon as I start looking at all the things for which I am grateful, I feel my resentments and anxieties recede. Not disappear, mind you, but back off enough that I feel I can breathe for a moment.
I have been aware of a trend I want to stop. Never mind the ways I abuse my body (lack of exercise, unhealthy food choices, not enough sleep); I have started to sometimes think how wonderful it would be to be literally, physically unable to do my job--at least for a month or two. I know that if that were actually to happen, I'd be miserable beyond words; it's just an indication of how hard it is for me to continue to get up in the morning and come in here to do this. There are still the moments that can make me feel exhilarated--like talking last semester with that student who suddenly was turned on to reading--but I've lost something I used to have. I used to wake up in the morning--even to a painfully early alarm--and feel fine about heading in to work. Now, I have days when I wake up in the morning and dread it. I hasten to say that the dread doesn't occur every single day, as it has in some of my past jobs, but the fact that it happens at all alarms me. I don't want to feel this way about what I'm doing. I've always said that if I start getting bitter and hostile--or simply stop giving even the tiniest of shits--it will be time for me to do something else, and I feel myself heading in that direction. I'm not there yet, but I am watching myself closely, monitoring my "I can't stand this" meters.
And I do periodically ask myself, "OK, stop doing this--and do what instead?" I can't afford to simply stop working--or I could, but I'd have to drastically reduce my standard of living, and I'm not yet to the place where that feels like the only viable trade-off. So my task, my personal goal for this semester, is to try to find whatever it takes so I feel the job is working for me instead of it being something I have to endure.
Wow. Writing that all out makes it sound like I am a great deal more depressed and miserable than I am. I am tired (when am I not tired?), and if I think too much about all the things that could possibly go wrong, I can get very depressed and miserable. But there is much to feel good about, too. Nature in Lit ran with sufficient enrollment without me having to sweat the numbers even for a moment. One of my 102s has three students from last semester--including two of the brightest, who dropped the course in the fall for various reasons. My Tuesdays and Thursdays are going to be brutally long: I teach until 7. Teach until 7. I usually need at least an hour or two to sort, organize, get myself set for the next day (and, yes, post to the blog), so I'll be lucky to be home before 10 those days, unless I can figure out a way to go through the decompression stages much more rapidly without getting the metaphoric bends. But I have my 102s on the same day of the week, so they're not going to be out of phase--which I value highly. And I don't have a zillion students in any of my sections, or not yet anyway. Enrollment is still going on, so I could end up with something closer to full sections, but I'm glad with what I've got.
I am. I'm glad with what I've got. And among the things I've got is tomorrow and Friday away from here. Cathy said she doesn't need me tomorrow (and I'm hoping no new fires suddenly flare up), and neither she nor I will be in on Friday. I can work from home over the weekend--and I have a big, long break between classes on Tuesday in which I can fiddle and futz around the office.
It's 6:24 p.m. and all's right with my immediate world. And that's about as good as it gets, folks.