The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Answering the Bell for the 18th Round

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School starts next week, though I’ll be in for a few hours this week to get a few things set up.  If my previous 17 (!) years have taught me anything, it is that preparing things even for a few hours ahead of time will pay huge dividends over the next three weeks.I’m soon to have the “back to school” dream.  Every teacher gets it.  It’s an anxiety dream is all; actually, a form of stagefright.  Our minds are telling us that this is important and we need to be ready for it.  We rev our cognitive engines into overdrive starting right about now, and that extra horsepower works its way out subconsciously.  There are a multitude of variations on the dream.  For me, it usually involves something totally unexpected happening the first day of class…  I get twice as many students as expected, I can’t find paperwork, I can’t get the students settled when the boss stops in unexpectedly, or one I’ve had three or four times– I can’t find the school.  I drive in endless circles and have even had a car accident in the dream and still lead-footed it to get to school, ever the optimist about getting there on time.  To tell you how pervasive that dream has been, I remember having it as far back as 1993 when I was “merely” substitute teaching.

Twelve years ago, I had a “back to school” dream that I consistently and intentionally recall as a reminder of how important it is to have balance and structure in the summer away from work.  First, though, know this:  As teachers, we are sometimes gifted with a summer that is so ass-kickingly great that it transcends description.  Everything is smooth and easy.  There’s lots of rest and even more parties, fun, or whatever.  You go wherever and do whatever whenever for however long you feel like it.  It’s like living in the land of the lotus eaters.  I had one of those summers two years ago, and this summer has been pretty decent, but neither matches the summer of 2000.  I epitomized the single man those few months, having just gotten out of a long-term relationship, not having any financial burdens, and having Chicago at my disposal. What more could I have wanted?

Here’s how you spotted me:  I was the one in swim shorts, a ratty Ball State University t-shirt, sunglasses, and dragging a cooler.  If I wasn’t at the pool, I was at the volleyball courts next to the pool.  I felt great from running three times a week and logging 10-15 hours of sand volleyball.  I had a deep tan, and my skin was soft and smooth from constant applications of sunblock.  There were days I wouldn’t wake up until 10am, and wouldn’t shower until midnight that night.  Mosquitoes never bothered me– the mix of chorine, perspiration, and sunblock was the perfect repellant.  Chances are, too, that I had an oversized drink in my hand.

Picture this with less hair, more volleyball, and where’e my cooler?

So the night before school started, I dreamed that I showed up to our first day of inservices without ever having changed costumes from my summertime persona.  The faculty had to meet in a room down the hall from mine, and we had to run the gauntlet of the superintendent and principal when we entered the room– they were literally standing on both sides of the doorway and inspecting every teacher who walked through.  I somehow managed to get past them with a huge drink in hand that smelled almost like jet fuel.  I sat down behind a teacher who had, in the non-dream world, resigned the previous year.  I was certain I was going to get busted, so I spilled my drink on the floor.  I thought I was in the clear– I couldn’t get in trouble for a spilled drink!  But how to explain that chunk of lime floating in the puddle of my drink?

I woke up in a mild panic.  I told a coworker about the dream the next day, and her pithy summation has stuck with me:  It was like two worlds colliding.  What followed was two months in the third circle of Hell.  I was constantly behind in my lessons, floundering to get the drama department rolling, and drowning in grad school homework.  My summer friends hardly ever saw me, and some of them even supposed I moved.  Of course, it was just that I was back at teaching and it was consuming all of me.  It could have been quite a bit easier if I hadn’t gone so hog-wild that summer.

But what good is age without wisdom?  School starts in a week, and I’ll spend a lot of time this week ramping down the wherever-whatever-whenever-for-however-long and ramping up the structure and discipline.

I need it anyhow.

Written by seeker70

August 20, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

2 Responses

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  1. I luv ur stuff! Now go teach those kids…

    Carrie M. Schulte

    August 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm

  2. […] enough of this to vouch for it–so there is some truth to that.  I’ve even discussed it herein.  It is incredibly euphoric to know that you’re free for 80-some days, you’re […]

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