Monday, May 23, 2011

What I Want To Do On My Summer Vacation

I am beginning my second week “off.” As each semester comes to a close, I find myself making mental lists of all the things I want to do during my break. This process helps distract me from the mountain of tasks that emerge in the final weeks of the semester - final exams that need to be written, final exams that need to be graded, grades that need to be calculated, and spending time with those students who want to know if they can make up all of the homework that they didn’t have time to complete during the course of the semester but are confident that they have the means to finish it all in final fourteen hours of the semester.

Somehow I got it all done. Last week I found myself at home during the day with an opportunity to revisit my list of things I wanted to do on my break.

First on the list was to sleep later than the normal 6am school alarm time. This was a nice thought, but a little unrealistic. Though my brain may not be, my body is still on “school time.” I was wide awake at six o’clock - before the alarm clock even reared its ugly buzzer. I was awake, hungry, and in need of coffee. The dogs were also wide awake, hungry, and in need of going outside. Weber was awake, hungry and in need of going to school. Poor guy! So much for sleeping in. The consolation was that at least I did not have to be awake and dressed. I managed a second cup of coffee while still in my pajamas before heading for the shower. That made it feel like a break. I suspect that my internal clock will reset itself to the summer schedule about the time I begin teaching summer session in a few weeks.

Another item on my summer to-do list was to spend some lazy afternoons on the couch reading. My intended reading material includes magazines and a novel that I downloaded to my iPad - nothing cerebral at all. In fact, I have not even looked at the last week’s Chronicle of Higher Education! I have run into a slight glitch with the reading on the couch part of my plan. Sadly, I have discovered that we really don’t have a couch. What I thought to be a couch is apparently a rather expensive dog bed. Every time I grab my magazine and head for what I thought was our couch, I discover that that space is occupied by our canine housemates. Did you know that a ninety pound black lab can take up an entire sofa? I now know what the dogs do all day while we are at school. They spend the day sleeping on the couch and apparently they too are still on a school schedule. If I want to read I’ll have to find myself a comfy spot outside under a tree in the backyard. There is something way wrong with this scenario!

During this first week off I also wanted to wash things that don’t get washed regularly like curtains and bathroom rugs. Though first, I did our regular laundry. Well, almost. The last load was in the washer and the washer decided that it didn’t really like me being home because it had to work too hard; so, it went on strike. Actually it outright quit. After consultation with the higher-ups (the Sears repairman) we concluded that it was best to permanently terminate the current washing machine and replace with a new one. As i write this, the curtains and the bath rugs have not been washed, that last load of laundry begun several days ago is still resting soggily in a laundry basket and I am anxiously awaiting the delivery of our new washing machine. By the way, buying a new washing machine was quite an experience, an experience that deserves its own post. So, stay tuned!

Also on my list is to knit. I have not really done that either - a few rows but nothing measurable, literally. I am teaching a class and need to finish the sleeves of a sweater. Hopefully that will happen this week. Somehow it is hard to muster the enthusiasm to knit a wool sweater when it is 90 degrees outside with a 110% humidity! Oh well, this is one of those have to, not want to things. Working on the sweater is this week’s sole project - once we get the washing machine and I rewash the soggy load from last week. Hopefully I can convince the dogs to give me a corner of the couch so that I can knit. If not, there is still that shade tree in the backyard.

Seven days into my summer break I don’t seem to be doing very well with my vacation wish list. And I have not even thought about the things I have to do

  • Memorize an hour and a half of music for a concert in two weeks
  • Finish a commission composition
  • Write my syllabi for my summer school classes
  • Make travel arrangements for Offspring No. 1’s college graduation

This is beginning to sound not much like a break!

I’m off to work.