Today is the beginning of the new semester, which means it’s time to crank up the teaching machine, dust off the notes, realize that these notes are too dusty to use yet again, re-write the syllabus, and generally panic about what the hell I’m going to say for fourteen weeks. Because it’s the beginning of term, I’m not going to write a “bucket list” of ten things I hope to see happen before I die, which was one Listicle option we were given by Ally, one of two normal moms.
In any case, my list of what I’d like to see happen before I die would be your basic lefty media-elite wish for clean politics, clean air, clean food, clean water–and for there to be a veritable blizzard of invitations swamping the post office as gay couples all over the world decide to get (legally) married. Oh, and I’d like teachers to get annual salaries that are even a fraction of what Newt and Mitt declared on their taxes (eighty gazillion and 3.1 million, respectively).
Yeah. That’s what I thought you’d say. Dream on. So the other option for the listicle today was things that make you anxious.
Did I say it was the beginning of the term? At this time of year, me and anxious are like besties. We’re tight. We’re IM’ing each other and DM’ing each other and generally just inseparable.
1. The opening day of the term. I’ve been teaching for years and years but still that first day, walking into the classroom…Anxious. I’m always sure I’ve forgotten my notes, forgotten where the classroom is, forgotten how to work the computer for powerpoint.
2. Anxiety #1 links to the fear that it will be this term when I am unmasked as a fraud. That someone will storm into my office or stand up in class and say “Lady, you’re just nuts and this stuff doesn’t make any sense and where you’d get your graduate degree anyway, back-of-the-matchbook university?” (Confession: Husband and I were married by my uncle, who was licensed as a minister by…yep, the church of the back of the matchbook.)
3. Anxiety #1 and #2 combine to create the recurring nightmare that all teachers have, in some version or another: you suddenly realize that you were supposed to be teaching an entire other course in addition to the one you’re teaching and you’ve never set foot in the classroom; or you’re being observed by your supervising teacher or your tenure committee and realize that you’re naked; or you’re standing in front of the podium and the wrong notes are in your hand, you have no idea where you are, and no idea what you’re supposed to do.
4. Unrelated to teaching: bugs. Cookie’s Chronicles gave us a lovely upclose picture of an earwig and I’d like to return the favor: Giant water bugs. Or as I like to call them chichihuahua bugs (with apologies to small dogs everywhere). They’re huge. They move way the fuck too fast; they crunch when you get someone else to step on them. I can’t actually post the picture here because then I’d scream and knock the computer on the floor and that would be bad. I will say that as I write about these horror beetles, my toes are all curled up and I’m scanning the floor, wondering if something is about to come waving its antennae out of the drain.
5. That my children’s fears about me ruining their lives by moving us all the way to hell and gone are right. Well, okay, I don’t think that’s going to happen, or at least, not because I moved them here. They’re not teen-agers yet. I’m saving the big guns of life-ruining for a few years down the road. The life-ruining hasn’t even started, kids.
6. That my parents’ comment (repeated over and over again when I was in grade school and middle school…and hell, in high school too): that I’m not living up to my potential, is going to come true. Of course, given how close I am to fifty, I wonder how long a person has to have “potential.” Is there a statute of limitations on that concept? I mean, can I still be searching for the fulfillment of “potential” at fifty-five? At sixty?
7. What if I’m attacked by giant water bugs and never finish my novel? What if I’m not attacked by giant water bugs and then I don’t have an excuse for not finishing my novel?
8. What if I can’t finish my novel?And in the meantime, what if writing blog posts and fiction have so thoroughly insinuated themselves into my brain that I can’t go back and write professorial prose when I need to (see earlier on FRAUD).
9. What if these yoga pants (purchased on sale at Marshalls in NJ with my beloved sister during the winter holiday. God I loves me a big-box store. Not enough of them out here in Petro-dollar land, unless you count the mammoth Chanel emporia scattered throughout the various malls)–what if the fact that I’ve worn these pants so constantly for the past ten days means they’re never going to come off?
10. What if I don’t wring every drop out of this opportunity to live in another world for a while? What if I get back to the States and think “why didn’t I….?”
So there you have it folks. I’m riddled with anxiety and the only thing preventing me from dissolving into a puddle are my Marshalls’ yoga pants. Omigod. Why didn’t I buy a second pair? What am I going to do when these fall apart?