The second semester is underway and that means I’ve been tugged back into the reality of my job from the temporary fantasy of pseudo-heaven called Winter Break. In terms of content, this means Macbeth and Frankenstein and Othello and The Tipping Point and Hamlet. Yet again.
Like the start of any new semester, I have tried to manufacture excitement or something other than sheer dread by picking up some new toys because I love toys. At the moment, I am pleased to announce that I have a small bag of smelly things from Bath and Body Works for both my car and classroom. In fact, my classroom smells of rich mahogany, alright faux-mahogany. But still. Additionally, my super-saver sometime extreme couponing wife long ago purchased some school supplies for me that I have left at home until now, knowing that I would need them come the new year. And this is supposed to combat the malaise of leaving two weeks off and 5-10 pound weight gain.
It’s stupid, I know, to try to trick myself into believing something that is untrue. Not to sound even more stupid, but it works because it works. Or used to work. I know myself well enough to understand that the best way to distract myself from something untenable is literal distraction. It’s totally OK that I have to grade quizzes and tests because I have new pens with which to grade them! You’re right, I’m a simpleton. Now, this usually works – at least for a few weeks – generally long enough for me to get halfway through a quarter then say something like I’m halfway to ___________ break. Then that week or two or two months is juuuuust enough to recharge through one more quarter. But this year’s been a real struggle. I know the Matrix is telling my brain that this is what I do and what I have to do. But after 12 years, you know what I realize? I am afraid to say.
I don’t understand why my attitudes toward my work (and baseball, curiously) have so suddenly fallen off a cliff. But I’m aware enough to know they have. I spent the winter break mentally trying to work myself back up to better levels, but it’s difficult because I can’t unknow what I know. It’s like trying to create a false reality that’s um, quite a bit more nuanced than here, get some new pens and forget the rest. I haven’t been able to get there.
And like everything else in my life, it’s figuratively killing me because I don’t understand what it is. I am aware of it. I can see it happening, but I don’t know the source of it. I’ve been trying to figure it out, still it eludes me. But hey! New pens, though!