Cool Friend had her surgery today. Her husband called to update me, bless him, and to tell me that there were complications.
I almost lost my friend today.
I have had his words running through my mind for the last eight hours, replaying like a stuck tape. I take them out, turn them this way and that, consider what they mean, put them back in my head – and then I lose it.
My friend tried to leave me.
She can’t do that yet. We’re supposed to be old together, sitting in our rockers on the front porch, sipping our wine and laughing at how silly we were in the good old days. We’re not old yet.
We’ve talked, briefly, and CF is her usual self, calm and collected. I’ll see her soon, since I had already scheduled a trip this weekend to spend time with her. It’s okay. She’s still here. We have lots of years in front of us.
But I am still terrified at what I almost lost today.
Some horrible happened on my campus today.
I ended up teaching both of my classes before classes were cancelled; some may not have agreed but I think it was a good thing. The students talked; they asked questions; I shared my thoughts and feelings since I didn’t have any real answers to offer. And then we tried to learn something, reverting to that little bit of normalcy that still exists when awfulness occurs.
It was only when I got to my car tonight that I started to cry. I suppose I hadn’t had time to process what had happened yet; I’d been concentrating on my students, not the actual events.
When September 11 happened, I taught that afternoon. When Virginia Tech happened, I taught that afternoon. When I got my cancer diagnosis, I literally hung up the phone and walked into my classroom to teach.
Turns out, I might need my students during tragedy more than they need me.
I woke up with my alarm. I read a book over lunch. I spent the entire afternoon marking things off my task list. I went to yoga. I enjoyed a potluck dinner with some friends. I continued marking things off my task list. I’m going to watch an hour of something enjoyable before reading in bed and falling asleep at a decent hour.
If I could somehow manage to make most of my days like this, I would be a much happier person, I think.
As weekends go, this wasn’t a bad one – which is good, given the start on Friday. My phone died during the night, which meant I didn’t have an alarm in the morning, which meant I completely overslept, which meant I woke up when I was supposed to be on campus for a meeting I had called. Despite mea culpas and rescheduling, it was not my finest moment.
This weekend was my effort to work on the things that typically get pushed aside, professionally and personally. Yesterday, I worked through some (never-ending) coding for my research. Today, I focused on editorial duties, reading and making decisions on several manuscripts for my journal and reviewing a manuscript for another journal. Other things happened, too – journal reading, meeting scheduling, email sending – but I did manage to make some headway on tasks that threaten to overwhelm me.
Today, I also had an out-of-town friend – and her two daughters – come for lunch, a rare but very pleasant occasion. As usual, guests are my impetus to clean and organize my house, so I spent a good bit of time yesterday picking up and putting away, in addition to several loads of laundry. I kept lunch simple: quiche, salad and pie, most of which I prepped yesterday. I wasn’t trying to impress with food (which is good because the quiche was mediocre) but provide something edible while we enjoyed each other’s company – a much nicer way to think of having visitors.
Some days, it’s hard to muster much enthusiasm for this job. There are too many meetings, most of them pointless gatherings that offer information easily summarized in a memo. There are too many administrative tasks that result in little more than additional administrative tasks. There are too many tasks and too little time. And there are too few people willing to push back against the ludicrousness overtaking education today.
But I can muster enthusiasm for my classes. I enjoy working with my students and engaging them with difficult material and getting them to talk to each other instead of to me.
Today, I mustered. But I’m really tired of having to.
It’s been a month since I last posted. It’s probably been a month since I had a coherent thought. So, that sounds about right.
Christmas with the family went fine; as usual, I was too busy to dwell on anything until I left. For once, everyone behaved well; the entire family made it home for Christmas Eve; and we all seemed happy to be together. Mom did pretty well, all things considered. There were a few tough moments – nothing like hearing your mother’s voice coming out of you when you’re actually talking to your mother – but they didn’t overshadow the niceness of being together.
SG and I had a good bit of time together over the break, even though we weren’t together for the actual holiday. We took a quick trip to the big city before Christmas and then took off to the sunny southwest for a week afterward. We’re trying to make this a tradition: take a vacation to relax and regenerate at the end of the year. It’s a good tradition.
I spent almost a week at SG’s because our semester started so late this year. I got a few things off my plate while I was there – mostly committee work (seriously, over the break). I did some reading, caught up on a few shows, enjoyed some nice meals.
The return to reality was pretty harsh. This last week has been non-stop work, with classes starting Monday. I’m teaching a brand new class this semester, so that syllabus came from scratch; I did a major overhaul of the other class I’m teaching, so that syllabus wasn’t quick and easy, either. I’ve had multiple meetings every day this week – three more tomorrow – plus deadlines to meet for conference proposals and internal grants.
I’m slowly getting myself together. I hope. I’m tired of feeling discombobulated and being so disorganized. Last semester, I was far from the professor I want to be: forgetful, exhausted, distracted, overwhelmed. I don’t want this semester to go the same way – even though it could easily do so. There has to be a better way to manage everything going on, and I’m hoping I can find it this semester.
I had planned to leave yesterday. Technically, I could have managed it – my suitcases were actually packed – but I was seriously lacking the will to get in the car.
So, I took the extra day. Now, the laundry is done, the dishes are washed, the reference letters are submitted, the manuscript is reviewed and the car is packed.
I’d like to think I’ll leave fairly early tomorrow morning but, knowing how much trouble I have getting out of bed these days, I’ll be lucky to leave before lunch. Here’s hoping.