The semester is 117 days long, including graduation and weekends. I always do some work on weekends, and when I am sick, and when I am traveling. That's the life of a college professor, at least this one. Some colleagues dislike answering emails at random times; I prefer it. Beyond the mundane tasks, there's the reality that teaching a course on “Fashion and Consumer Culture”, or “Diversity in American Culture”, or “Religion in American Life” means that I am almost always “on”, paying attention to everyday life in a way that I might not if I taught something else.
Today is my first day of classes after spring break. It is Day #62 of the semester, which means the halfway point slipped by me unnoticed. That makes me sad; I had intended to pay close attention to this last semester before retirement, but instead I found myself falling into old habits. Despite my best efforts, I am far more likely to skate along on the surface of life than pause to reflect on it.
That's a dangerous metaphor, I know. Pause too long on the surface, and I might find myself plunging into icy depths. It's happened, and I disliked it. An interview for the department newsletter included the question “What will you miss the most about UM?” Thankfully, it was an email interview; I had to take a break until I stopped crying.
Finally, I typed this:
I'm going to miss being part of it. I'm not looking forward to coming to campus and having that feeling I had when I visited my old high school on my first Thanksgiving break from college.
For the next 55 days I may still skate along, but if you see me pause, lost in thought, now you'll know why. And I promise to try a bit harder to translate those moments into words.