Saturday, December 16, 2017

semester is over

I got the couple "leftover" exams midafternoon yesterday. (The teal deer: had a student with extra-time accommodations, students with those accommodations need to take their exams in a separate office, the student in question put it off until the last possible time even though they're supposed to take the exam at the same general time as the rest of the class).

So my grades are done and in. I don't need to go in Monday and I don't think I will. All that will happen is I'll probably have e-mails begging for extra credit even though it's too late.

I'm tired. Part of me is quietly going "yay, you survived that tough new prep and it went better than you hoped" but I'm kind of just worn out and at loose ends.

Today was graduation. The speech was better than many, but it was one of those "you need to serve more" speeches and while intellectually I get that it's aimed at the new grads who are hoping for a posh first job where they can buy all the toys, emotionally I hear it - yet again - as a "you're not doing enough" and the speaker said something like that if you feel like something is lacking in your life, it means you're not serving hard enough and that seems wrong to me.

I do feel like something is lacking at times but I don't think it's more service. I don't know.

I'm telling myself it's that I'm tired, I'm out of a normal schedule, I have the low-level worry of making sure all my pre-travel plans are finalized (need to pack, need to get gas in the car, need to make sure the plants are on the automatic waterers, need to shut down the breakers to certain things in the house (just out of an excess of caution), need to leave the kitchen sink on a VERY slow drip just in case things go bad and my heat stops working and it gets extremely cold - wasting a few bucks' worth of water is better than frozen pipes)

And I think also, I'm suffering a little bit from memories. Last week was the fifth anniversary of Sandy Hook, and while in no way did I know anyone who was lost in that, was one of the more-unsettling things that has happened in recent years. And yes, I was thinking about it at graduation today, and (as always) I knew which three exits were nearest me, and how I could quickly get out if I had to....

And I'm thinking about last Christmas, when my mom fell on the ice, and how worried I was she had really really hurt herself badly, and that worry was on top of me needing to then take care of all the logistics of a proper Christmas (and it's different in a family than by yourself: if it were just me I could make a pot of soup for Christmas dinner and call it good).

I am really, really hoping no one gets hurt or sick this year, and things all go smoothly.

I think also on some level I've realized that the childhood Christmases are gone forever - with all their attendant things, all the days upon days of cookie baking (not as many people to give them to, and none of us, save perhaps my mom, should be eating very many cookies these days). And going out at night to drive around and look at lights (no one likes to drive at night any more, and I am sufficiently unfamiliar with the place, not having lived there for nearly 20 years, that I'd be uncomfortable doing it myself - never mind you can't look while you're driving). And getting toys for Christmas, or similar frivolous things - it's harder for my parents to shop now, and I mostly ask for practical stuff. I figure, the frivolous stuff, I buy for myself. (But it's not quite the same).

I dunno. I guess a lot of adulthood is learning to accept that a lot of the things you enjoyed as a kid are gone, and to try to find new things to enjoy. I haven't been quite so good at that; some of the paths most people take (spouses, kids) that make them happy haven't happened for me. And I admit, as good as my job is compared to many, it's not a source of JOY in the way I had hoped it would be. I mean, it's important to me: I am lucky to have a career in which I do not have to compromise my ethics to get along, I get to use my brain, the sort of stupid hoop-jumping rules are at a minimum, and on good days I feel like maybe I'm making a little difference in the world. But I don't walk into work like my old high school French teacher, whistling and swinging my (figurative) briefcase. I guess I feel my responsibilities too heavily or something - my usual thought is "What e-mails have come in overnight that I will have to deal with?" (Maybe the secret was that in his day, there WAS no e-mail)

And I think these past two years HAVE just changed things. I worry a LOT more about my continued employment - in the past, I felt like, "Unless I screw up really big, I have a secure job until retirement" but now I feel more like "Unless things change in my state, or unless the general societal attitudes toward higher ed become less negative, I might find myself out of a job in a few years through no fault of my own" (and then all the worries about: do I plan on moving and maybe never owning a house again and fight with people who are, honestly, more "superstars" than I will ever be over the tiny handful of academic jobs, or do I retrain and retool and accept maybe living for a much smaller paycheck, but be able to stay here and as long as I can pay for my car insurance and property tax and the electric bill, I can maybe kind of manage?)

And I don't know how much of that is me being a pessimist vs. accurate reality. I wish I could shake that worry.

(Honestly, what I would want the very most in my life, if there were a for-real Santa Claus? A piece of paper promising - an absolutely unbreakable promise - that things with my career would continue to be OK, and that I would have enough money to survive when it came time to retire. That would probably go a long way to getting me out from under the concern I feel daily).

I dunno. There are lots of speeches made and lots of ink spilled that make me feel like I'm doing enough, like I need to be "better," but a lot of the time I feel like I wish the rest of the world would try to be better for a little while.


Edited to add: I ran out to Lowe's and got another ornament bag and a tree storage bag. But I don't think I will feel like taking it down before I leave (even though it's supposedly bad luck to leave a tree up after Epiphany, oh well, 2016 and 2017 have been bad-luck years enough with me taking the tree down on Epiphany).

I got solicited by a salesperson in the parking lot. THE FRICKING LOWE'S PARKING LOT. Someone selling make up - he had little gift bag type things made up. I glanced in it, saw all the eye shadow palettes and said "I don't really wear make up, sorry" (Not true, totally, but: I don't wear eye make-up, and I don't wear random make-up because of allergies: it pretty much has to be Clinique). He asked me if I did my own hair. I said "No, not really" which wasn't a total like (I don't "do" my hair. I comb it and hope it lies flat). I wanted to say "Does it LOOK like I do my hair?" because I knew it was a mess (I got too much pomade in it last night after washing it, it feels greasy, will have to wash it again tonight and use less pomade this time)

I should have just driven away without rolling my window down but I was raised to be too polite. (Vague thought in my head: that will get me killed some day; dude could have been a robber using the sales tactic as a cover....)

I hate being solicited. I won't open my front door to a knock unless it's someone I know or the USPS/UPS person. It seems a bit much to have to cope with it in a store's parking lot. Maybe I need a "NO SOLICITING" t-shirt made up...

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