Monday, September 3, 2007

heading back to school

More of you participated in the "September changes" poll than any other I've held so far -- partly just increasing traffic round these parts (yay!), but also just indicative of what a big deal "la Rentrée" (the French word for the return to work and school after the summer break) is. Of the 13 respondents, 6 had children going back to school, 1 was going back to take classes, 5 were going back to teach, and 2 had partners who were going back either to teach or to take classes. One claimed no change at all, but such claims get blown out of the water if you head for work, for example, on a B-line bus in Vancouver where you'll now be competing for a seat with students heading out to UBC. Or if you take your little ones to the local MacDonald's during the day and find it considerably quieter than usual. Small changes, perhaps, but life takes on a different tenor in September. As for those 4 respondents who ticked off "Some other changes," I'm curious, but I wish I'd left choices to reflect all the support people who keep our schools open, clean, and functioning -- teacher's aides, secretaries, janitors, bus drivers. And what about the big change for grandparents, like my neighbour, who watch their very special representative of the next generation head to school for the very first time?

As for me, I've been rooting around trying to find my copy of Elaine Showalter's Teaching Literature for the passages in which she talks about the dream that teaching academics almost universally share: the anxiety dream before classes start up again. Amazingly, seasoned and long-tenured professors are just as likely to have this dream as newly-minted PhD's, waking up in a cold sweat panicked about being nude in front of a huge lecture hall or about being on-stage with no lines memorized. I have colleagues who are wont to dash into a bathroom to vomit before class on the first day. I haven't got that problem, but my body does get very tightly wound for days before this September Tuesday and no intellectualizing will talk it down. I'll be fine by the end of the week, exhausted by the end of the month and then it's just head-down, marking and prep 'til the end of April!

Today, we did a bit of prep I've been wanting to do for a few years -- we took a wicker love seat into my office to try to de-institutionalize it a bit (and give me a wee spot for an occasional nap?). Thought you might get a kick out of seeing how deliveries work on our little island. Saturday you would have seen an even more amusing sight as our glass front door was shattered by a rock thrown up by a weedeater -- said door had to be taken off its hinges, balanced on a wheelbarrow and carried to the boat, then on the other side carried up the dock to the car. The less appealing side of life on a wee island. (Many of our neighbours have cars, trucks, or golf carts. So far, over the ten years we've lived here, we've chosen to manage with foot, bike, and wheelbarrow. Our neighbours would gladly have lent their car or truck, but the Mr. here is very independent, and it actually wasn't much trouble.)

Remember: My Shoes Wednesday tomorrow. Please come back and check it out.

And if you haven't yet seen my previous post wherein my son-in-law does a Zoolander for us, please check that out also.


  1. My anxiety dream always has to do with noise: the class becomes so distracted and carried away by tangents that the whole lesson falls by the wayside. I've been having this dream every fall--and sometimes before winter or spring quarter, too--since I started teaching as a grad student 13 years ago.

    Today is an anxiety morning: clearing the desk and office so I can get my syllabi in order. It sounds like you start this week--is that right? If so, good luck this week!

  2. I'm one of those who voted that September brings other changes. While I do have a daughter who is going back to school (your university-college actually) she doesn't live at home so my life isn't really affected by that. However, with the beginning of September, the BC Junior A hockey league starts. We are volunteers with the Cowichan team and life becomes more hectic in September. Games to attend, road trips to plan, food to prepare for quick getaways to games and a fan website to maintain. Lots of fun but overwhelming at times.

  3. I want a picture of you napping on that tiny tiny wicker couch.
    Oh, and dad looks like he should be hearding sheep with that thing!

  4. I miss not having any big changes in the fall. Maybe I should go back to school.

    I like the pictures. Dad's bike looks funny. Protection Island bulldozer.

  5. So that's why people scattered when they saw me coming - they thought I was a bulldozer. Dad

  6. Puttermeister: yes, we're back this week. I don't remember dreaming out my anxiety although I could certainly feel it in my body. Interesting how consistent your dream is.
    Chris: Thanks for elaborating on the changes fall brings you. I hadn't even thought about all the other activities that really get going as the air develops a chill. My sister volunteers for hockey, (younger than Junior A) and I know she'll get even busier now.
    Meg, Zach, Paul: sheepherder, bulldozer, whatever . . .
    Zach: Dad was just saying that he feels a bit odd in the fall now without you guys going back to school (altho' he still has me to remind him about September). All those years of sending kids of to school and now we're done!

  7. Is that the same wicker couch you've had seen Prince Rupert?
    If it is I must applaud not only
    Pauls' ability to transport it by bike to the dock but also your choice in furniture.

  8. even more impressive, Hilary, we've had it since before we went to Rupert -- it's more than earned its keep!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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