Wednesday, June 6, 2012

From Muzzle to Mitt

Exhaustion has set in. The end of the school year is like that last winded push for the goal line when you have nothing left.
(I know a million other professionals out there are saying: "Yeah, teachers. They get off in the summer... " 1) I don’t, for the record. 2) If teachers are good, they work all summer on their own. 3) Imagine if your job were to “perform” five to eight shows a day and then spend your nights and weekends preparing lessons and grading papers. Trust me, hardworking non-teachers: It is, contrary to popular belief, a “real job.” You even get a daily evaluation from your kids, who can make you life heaven or hell with a slight shift in attitude. Can you control 30 teenagers in a room and keep them interested in what you have to say for seventy minutes? I didn’t THINK so. Now what? What? That’s what I thought. Hmmpf.)
Anyway, I thought I would give you a quick run down of my day, today, in all of its surrealistic insanity:
6:00 AM: Awakened to a soft white fuzzy muzzle against my cheek. Smiled at cute dog. Scratched cute dog’s warm snoot. Pushed dog lovingly away. Vigorously rubbed my own face, pushing up with neck. Felt neck go p-toing! Neck has been loath to turn from side to side since then. Went into shower and washed head like an agitated monkey with really short arms, cursing the pain.
7:05 AM: Ran out front door, late. Stopped at fast food place for an eggish sandwich. Opened eggish sandwich. Sandwich was more greasy film than sandwich. It looked like a herring made of English muffin. Ate it anyway, because…what are you gonna do?
7:20 AM: Passed a house.
7:33 AM: Passed the same house again, despite never having changed direction.
7:40 AM: Pulled into lot at school. Same house was across the street from me.
(Okay, it was a pre-fabricated house in two pieces on a flatbed, but it was still weird.)
8:00 to 9:00 AM: Ran from office to classroom planning a lesson for a substitute teacher. Decided to show Return to Oz to my “Fantasy and Sci-fi” class, along with an assignment to explain the director's techniques for making us empathize with Dorothy the child -- "due at end of period." Substitute teacher later found me and explained that if I ever made him watch a movie that weird again, he would find me and punch me right in the nose. Acknowledged this as a fair point.
9:00 AM: Stood on stage reading the names of students who did good things for an awards ceremony. Read name of student who graduated last year, put on list in error. Had metaphorical aneurysm when I realized this. Got made fun of by students. (This is nothing new.) Spent most of the time afraid that the audience thought I was giving them “the seductive smoulder” but really was having a hard time lifting head on painful neck.
10:00ish AM: Went back to school and put on academic robe for picture with graduating class. Endured Harry Potter jokes from students and drivers-by. (“Where’s your wand, Snape?”) Gave students an unwelcome history lesson in return: Explained how the long sleeves on a Master’s Degree robe were originally for scroll storage. (“Uh…yeah, thanks for that info, Mr. Mat.” “You can also,” I responded, “put a big rock into them and beat insolent students to within an inch of their graduation.” [Nervous laughter.])
10:24 AM: Sat for picture of graduating class along with the rest of the administration, painfully aware that, in the final product, my head will be the biggest in the shot. (Made mental note to tell photographer to Photoshop the old bean a little smaller this year. Will certainly forget.)
11:45 AM: Ate tuna sandwich. It was pretty good.
12:00 AM: Went to graduation practice. Practiced. Pretended to trip several students as they walked solemnly by me. Some of them laughed. Others did not. Called one girl -- a young woman I see in class every other day -- “Daniel” instead of “Danielle,” while practicing names. (It was kinda funny. To her: not so much.)
1:00 PM: Back in office. Thought of testing neck extension by looking down. Sat, petrified of the pain it might cause.
1:30 PM: Was still thinking it over.  Was also thinking of grading a stack of research papers.  Pulled papers toward me.
4:45 PM: Lying on couch at home, spent. Son appears at side of couch with a bat and ball and a pleading, cartoonish grin on face.
4:47 PM: Grunt; drag carcass off couch in one, final, Herculean display of conviction. Step out into sunlight; pick up the old Rawlings.

The river flows, eh?


  1. People who think teaching is an easy job generally haven't been teachers.

    (I also sometimes wonder if some of the disparagement doesn't come from teaching being a "traditionally feminine" occupation but that's another problem).

    When I wore master's robes I sometimes joked about packing a lunch in one sleeve and a book in the other. The sleeves of my doctoral gown are entirely useless for packing anything.

  2. Very true 'nora -- an interesting speculation, too.

    The sleeves of your doctoral robes may be useless for packing, but I'll bet you could Velcro things to the outside with those...what are they called? -- the stripes?

  3. Bars, I think they're called. Though my doctoral gown doesn't have those either -- I went to a British university and the standards of robe styling are different -- just huge billowing bell-shaped sleeves. It is a remarkably lovely shade of sky blue, however.

  4. Well, it sounds "fierce," at any rate.