I live in the heartland, where people grow corn, drink beer while sitting in lawn chairs on their driveways, and think it's a great idea to start school at the height of summer. I returned to teaching a mere 4 days ago. And I'm already tired. Yes, I know, many of you are scoffing at my assertion that a not-quite-nine-week summer vacation isn't nearly enough. "I work all year!" you cry. "I would love to get three weeks, let alone all that leisure time you teachers get!" To which I snidely and defensively retort, "Well, you could've been a teacher, you know. Then you'd know the joy of summer vacation well into your 40s, too!" To date, no one has come up with a witty rejoinder to that. They merely look off into the distance and snort a little.
But I digress. The almost nine weeks flew by in a blur! From driving kids hither, thither, and yon to attending a couple of journalism camps to learning an entire video editing software program in a few days through YouTube tutorials so I'd know more than the kids when I started teaching them mass media to retooling Junior English (okay, I did take a week vacation to Harbor Springs, MI, where I did nothing but loll about for 5 days), it didn't feel like much of a rest. Why is that? There were so many things I needed to do, like finish the new Cate book - never fear, Cate lovers. It's nearly done. Well, mostly sort of.
The last week before school started, I injured myself doing roller derby camp. Some young sprite hit me from behind, sending me sprawling forth, twisting my foot in a hideous pattern resulting in a sort of torn ligament which hurts like the dickens. I've hobbled around in a haze of Advil and low-grade pain ever since, my foot ensconced in an extra-large brace that is not quite as cool as Forrest Gump's leg things were. Some people have sympathy. Some do not. One woman tsked at me and said, "Honey, why are you trying to be an athlete? You're a writer." I'd had a profound internal struggle before going to the practice over whether I should set up my classroom or go to derby. I ignored the responsible voice and laced up my skates instead. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
For some reason, I'm lamenting the loss of that last week the most. A procrastinator by nature, I left errands, pool visits, another go on the paddleboard, and about 15,000 words of a novel to that one week, and the ankle injury really threw a loop into my plans. They say you regret the things you don't do, but I regret that day because it ruined the last week of summer vacation, a magical time suspended before reality sets in.
So I'm trying to focus on the positives. We did get new English books this year, and they smell heavenly and, so far, have no male genitalia drawn in the margins of Dickenson poems. I have a hectic schedule - yearbook, journalism, English, and mass media - but I am NEVER bored. The people in my department are the funniest people on the planet and make me laugh until I tinkle a little bit every day at lunch. They clucked sympathetically at my ridiculous injury, and didn't mock me (at least to my face).
I'm mourning the end of summer, the very best time of year with the very best weather (heat and drought, my faves). But I know another one is only 176 school days away.
Courtney is a most fabulous writer and teacher of gifted middle school students. She is the author of two novels - see the "Cate Books" page of this site for information! Watch for updates about future books that need to be part of your personal library. In the meanwhile, enjoy her pithy life observations.