Welcome to the Wickeds, Cynthia!
One of the things that most suits me about the teaching life is the constant change. I’m always excited about the beginning of the semester. Maybe it’s because when I was little, my mother always bought me a new pair of shoes before the school year started. (Thanks, Mom!) And yes, I recently carried on that tradition with a nice pair of clogs. But mainly, I think it’s the fresh start of a different journey. There is new material to be read, thoughtful discussions to be had; in short, there are possible learning adventures everywhere.
The flip side is that there is some settling into the groove required, which leads to a constant and necessary stream of over-checking. Where is that classroom again? Will it have the equipment I need? Do I have enough handouts? Did I pack the right book? Where is my roster? When are my office hours? Wait, am I supposed to be in a class right now? I’m on how many committees and the reports are due when?
Perhaps that’s why I always have strange anxiety dreams before a new semester…like I’m super-late for class but can only move in slow-motion for some reason, or I am trying to teach a huge group but all the chairs are facing away from me, or I realize that although I’m standing at a podium, I am actually a tiny grey mouse wearing flip flops, and no one can hear my panicked squeaking.
If you have a child, then you know That Haunting Feeling you had the first time you left him/her with a babysitter or at daycare. Like an essential element was missing…say, your arm. Like you’d forgotten an item absolutely crucial to the day’s activities. Like you should have been doing something other than what you were doing, every minute. That’s what new semesters feel like, in my humble opinion.
But while it might require some heroic action to stop obsessively triple-checking my book bag before heading off to campus, I will try to take some deep breaths and remember that it’s only temporary. Eventually, I will know exactly what I’m supposed to be doing and will spend my energy inventing ways to avoid doing them.
I guess the important thing is…I have new shoes! Bring on the next semester.
Readers: What fresh start do you look forward to? Do you have anxiety dreams?
Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean mystery series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. Originally from upstate New York, she now teaches and writes in Colorado. For more information, please visit cynthiakuhn.net.