July 25, 2005

Summer Interrupted

Since I will be leaving for another vacation tomorrow and plan to be home only one week during August, I have been scrambling over the last week to get done everything I need to do before the semester begins. I've been rewriting my syllabi, mapping out my courses, cleaning my desk, and even making copies. It doesn't feel right to be doing this all during July, so far ahead of time. Usually, I make all my plans during the third week in August and that busyness helps mark the transition from summer mode to semester mode.

This year, though, I will be spending the last two weeks of August on a 14-day raft trip through the Grand Canyon. It's a white water adventure and writing workshop rolled into one. It's a trip I am looking forward to, a trip that I expect to be restorative and life-changing. But classes start the day after I return home so I have to plan my fall now, in July heat.

It's been difficult, especially on these ridiculously hot days, to even think about the fall. I've taught these courses many times before, and I like the books I am planning to use, so it's not that I am doing an unpleasant task. No, the hard part was simply rousing myself from summer mode: switching my brain into a different type of thinking.

It's not that I don't think about my courses during the summer: I read books I am considering. I talk to colleagues about teaching. I went to a week-long conference in Oregon. I go to meetings on campus. But it was still hard to get my brain back into thinking in terms of a MWF structure and planning what I can do in one-hour chunks of times. It was painful to put paper due dates on the syllabus, remembering that I will be grading all those papers. On peaceful summer afternoons, I can almost forget the whole ordeal of paper grading, and I was not happy to be reminded of it.

But despite the heat, the humidity, and my absolutely miserable mood, I did get all my planning done. I even called the bookstore and put in my book orders. I've piled all those folders onto the back corner of my desk. I am free now to return to summer: another month of camping and canoeing, reading and writing, hiking and rafting, sunshine and water.

10 comments:

Running2Ks said...

You sound like me--can't relax until the work is done. Glad your summer is finally here.

Sue said...

Happy Vacation jo(e)!!!! I start a month of holidays on Monday (one week from today). I get positively giddy thinking about it :)

enjoy some r&r -- cheers!

Friday Mom said...

Is okay if I drool? Two-weeks on a whitewater trip in the Grand Canyon, with a writing workshop attached! I'm breathless. That sounds wonderful!

Have a great time!

jo(e) said...

Friday Mom: Yeah, I've been bragging about the trip to anyone who will listen. I've wanted to go for years and years, ever since reading John McPhee's Encounters with the Archdruid.

But I had to wait until all my kids were old enough that I wouldn't feel guilty leaving them. I can't really afford the trip, but my husband kept telling me I should go anyhow before I am too old to enjoy hiking all the side canyons. I've never been out of touch with my family for two whole weeks so that is the one part I am a little nervous about. But I know it is going to be a great experience.

Jane said...

Sounds like an awesome trip. Have a great time and can't wait to hear all about it when you return!

Songbird said...

jo(e), this sounds wonderful.

wolfangel said...

What an awesome trip! Have fun!

Kathryn said...

Have a fantastic time...and Congratulations on getting all that done so far ahead of schedule. I fear that in the same position I would confidently expected another week to appear from nowhere at the end of August, as I couldn't possibly start preparations so far in advance. Glad you are made of sterner stuff ;-)

Lorna said...

just reading this made me tired. The rafting sounds wonderful!

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

Have fun on the raft trip!!! YAY!