Sunday, May 25, 2014

Cleaing the Decks/Desk

I have to confess that I spent most of last week moping and wishing that Maymester were over and that my new life was BEGINNING RIGHT NOW.

It doesn't help that I'm teaching in a dreary basement room (five days a week, three hours a day), and that half the class is international students, many of whom are chemical engineering majors in need of some humanities credits. While this does add valuable diversity to the class, several have such severe language issues that the work is heartbreakingly difficult for them in a way that, even on the eve of my retirement, I still don't know how to handle. How much accommodation can I make for almost unreadable papers, given that I do judge the other students on the clarity of their writing? Shy about their language skills, these students are so quiet in class that  most of the three hours is spent in my lecturing. The other night, when baby Kataleya was fussing, I gave her my best lecture on Kant's distinction between hypothetical imperatives and categorical imperatives, and it put her to sleep right away. So you can imagine how my students react.

Each day last week I came home from Maymester and sprawled on the couch, resorting to my old vice of Sudoku, searching the Internet for new reviews of Annika Riz, Math Whiz, and counting the days left till the 31st on my fingers in hopes that I'd discover I had miscounted and there were actually fewer days than I thought.

Then Friday afternoon, with two weeks of Maymester behind me, I decided to go through the file cabinets in my home office to make room for the files I'd be bringing home from the university (chiefly teaching notes in case I teach these courses again somewhere and offprints of my published articles). Once I began, a switch clicked in my brain. Listless and lethargic no longer, I was a woman possessed. I moved from file cabinet, to stack of stuff next to my desk, to the attic, where I opened boxes of papers I had never once opened since I moved from Maryland to Colorado 22 years ago.

Some of what I tossed (i.e., took to the recycling center):
1. An market guide to what children's book publishers are looking for - from 1984.
2. A duplicate copy of all the minutes I took as recording secretary of the Children's Book Guild of Washington, DC, that same year.
3. Four unpublished (and multiply rejected) novels: part of me wanted to re-read them for a window into the writer I was then, but I thought they'd make me cringe. I'm not really interested in the writer I was then; I'm interested in the writer I'm going to be now.
4. My notebooks and papers from library school
5. Folders of bills and credit card statements to support tax returns from 2007, 2008, 2009....
6. Photocopies of scholarly articles that are now easily available online.
7. Extra copies of the Fairview High School student newspaper with Gregory's articles in them (I did save one of each, now in a properly labeled folder now filed neatly in my file cabinet)
8) And enough more to fill two enormous cartons, now carried away forever.

Oh, it felt so good, so good, so good! Now there is room in my office and in my heart for all the wondrous things that are about to come.

I hadn't felt as restless and fidgety as I did last week since those last weeks of my first pregnancy, waiting for the birth of my first baby. Come, baby, come!

Now I'm waiting for the birth of my own new self.

I realized what I was doing all day yesterday. I was nesting: clearing out the debris from last year's nest (actually, debris from the last three decades of nest) to get ready to hatch me some EGGS!

The due date for my new life: this coming Saturday.Come, new self, come!

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