It's the penultimate Saturday before graduation. One more week of classes. Easy classes, too: summarize, generalize, connect to the outside world, conclude, hand out evaluations, give early examinations to the seniors so they can walk at graduation.
Then another week of relative ease, punctuated by occasional panicky meetings, as committee chairs realize they haven't got all the information they need to write reports, tie a big bow on them and send them up, or down the pike.
Thank heavens for the chain of command. Decision making? Not my job, mate.
Even as worker bees in this particular hive, we are catatonic, and have been for days. We can't even finish a conversation. The penultimate week of class is always the worst.
This last week was definitely the worst for me. It included a 26 hour day, if you can imagine, and if you count being stuck in a rainstorm in an airport grading papers, and driving home from the airport at 3am, as work.
Which I most definitely do.
Every other day was a 10 or 12 hour day, as I struggled to write good memos and reports and do otherwise halfway-decent professional work for committees and for outside partners. I tend to do this work at 5am, which is when I have time and patience to think things through and solve problems. If the day before has been stressful, I tend not to sleep well and get up at 2am or 3am to try to make some progress, and so lose sleep all week. But that means I'm pretty dull by 5pm. Which is when Aimee usually wants to talk about how her exhausting day has been, and about which student or other faculty member did the most lazy or bad-tempered or otherwise outrageous thing today.
We made it home at 5pm Friday and fed the sheep and just stood quietly leaning over the fence watching lambs for a while, not talking much, letting the poison stress leak out of some secret drain hole in our lower extremities somewhere. At least that's what it feels like. Then we went in and fed ourselves and watched bad TV. I fell asleep during both the BBC news, and again during a detective show.
This happens a lot.
This morning the sun is shining and rising high, and we really ought to spread compost on the garden and till it in, and make the new vegetable and flower beds and fill them full of a mix of dirt and compost, and change the poor neglected ducks' filthy water in their paddle pool, and replace the fence that the snowplow tore up around our neighbor's veggie garden, which we maintain because the only reason they need it is because we have free-range chickens and ducks who would otherwise eat their plant sprouts, and castrate six boy lambs already too big to knacker, and we need to put up six-seven cords of firewood, and seed the upper paddock, and de-stump and rake and seed the big paddock where I logged off last years firewood, and take the dogs for the nice walk they haven't had all week and did they even get one last weekend I can't remember it was so long ago... and... and...
And I think I might make it out of this nice safe armchair in my nice safe stress-free den, when I've had another cup or two of nice hot coffee and read some more papers and blogs online (cartoons!), and generally relaxed for another hour or two, had a nice breakfast and an unhurried stress-free bowel movement (yes, that too gets affected -- thank you for sharing, Mick) and a nice long shower, and put on my nice comfy overalls and soft worn t-shirt with stains and holes, and wellie boots, and generally made myself comfortable with life again.
Life in the fast lane. How many more years can we do this for?
No wonder old professors are supposed to be cranky and grumpy and distracted and dysfunctional.
Still. Only one more week of classes, and one of exams, grades and meetings, and then the bagpipes and shining happy families at graduation, and then we'll have time to get some of this farm work done. I cannot imagine how anyone manages to do this professor job twelve months a year, the way they do at for-profit and community colleges. The quality of the education and other work done must drop rapidly.
I honestly think we would die of this job if we had to work at this pace all year.