Well, the strange, slow creep of the liminal period dividing vacation and semester has ended.
Yesterday was my first day of classes, thus bringing to a close the transitional phase between “summer is a never-ending playground of joy!” and “oh, crap, reality will soon strike its iron fist upon me!”.
The iron fist has fallen and, as always, it was both tiring and exciting. Much as I enjoy summer, I don’t actually do that well when I have no schedule. At first it’s wonderful, and I get all inspired to have adventures and write and cook things I don’t typically have time for during the school year. And then the lethargy sets in. No need to dwell on the ugliness of the lethargy, so suffice it to say that it’s pleasant and invigorating to be back at work.
Still, one blessing of the summer is that I am allowed to forget the reality of commuting on the subway. It’s like childbirth that way, I suppose. Descending into the sweaty underbelly of the city and waiting, and waiting. Trying to game whether you should get on the F or wait for the G. Miscalculating. More waiting. More sweating…ugh. Then the stop and start of the train, the bad driver up front riding the break till you want to spill your lunch all over the already festooned floor. The rush to transfer to the bus. And so on. While there is much I miss about my job over the summer, this is NOT one of those things. All told, the trip is an hour and a half. Each way.
But! There were plenty of items in the ‘pro’ column for my first day back. For starters, the copy center had actually copied my syllabi — and without any mistakes this year! — and they were waiting in my mailbox. Also in the pro column: my office. As a part-timer, I change offices every semester. This time around I landed a nice one with a window overlooking the campus green. Also, a pro, my students seem like they’re going to have a good dynamic and be engaged — especially in my Ancient Mesoamerica class. And my classes aren’t too big, which facilitates the fostering of said dynamic. This is so, so important to a having a rewarding semester.
Not everything was wine and roses on Day 1, however. As a rule, something is always broken on the first day of the semester. Last year it was the in-room tech (no computer or projector). This year, it was even worse. In my first class, the heat was on. Yes, the heat, in August. It was about 95 degrees in the windowless lecture hall and (wait for it…) the lights were broken, so we were stuck in the dark. Hot and dark and airless. Now, there’s a recipe for a great class, eh? Ah well. My second class, in a building that appears to be an homage to Soviet-era construction (also windowless), seemed a veritable paradise in comparison. The lights worked AND there was air conditioning. Never mind the weird smell in the stairwell…
My favorite part of the day was also the strangest. As I was leaving campus to walk to the bus stop, I heard a strange wailing noise. Looking up, I spotted a falcon perched on the roof of the Social Sciences building, shrieking at the wee people down below. A falcon? In Queens? So random. And so magnificent.
So, school has started again and my schedule will transform accordingly…but first, a break! Because, you know, the first day of classes is exhausting, so we all need a vacation, right? Oddly, because of the alignment of Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah, we have all of next week off. My husband and I will be traveling to Maine for the greater part of that time with our friends Jeremy and Miro. Look for updates on hiking in Acadia and gluttonous feats of lobster and wine. Also, Miro wants to go mushroom hunting, so probably we will all be dead within a fortnight.
Until then, adieu!