Tuesday afternoon.  This is the weekly time I was going to spend writing, being a poet, being smart and having great ideas.  But teaching two sections of English Comp 101 has turned out to be so much work.  Instead of having a free afternoon to do what I came to school to do, I am sitting at a coffeeshop table checking my email compulsively, rather unable to calm down.  Mostly this is because one of my students just turned in an essay that he wrote for another class this past summer.  The header had another professor’s name in it (rather than mine), and was dated July 15.  So, that’s what got me WORRIED about it.  Actually, and this surprised me, my blood pressure skyrocketed and has not come down in two hours.  I thought I’d be prepared to deal with plagiarism or academic dishonesty like a pro.  But, no.  I hate that it bothers me so much.

Anyway, turns out he’s retaking 101, and he may not have realized that it’s not ok to recycle your own essays.  So, he may not be a felon.  Or malicious.  Or calculating.  Actually, I’m sure he’s not.

But I’m still worried — a lot — that I’m bad at my job.  Which anxiety is inextricably bonded to another anxiety: that I’m bad at life.  WHICH anxiety causes me to compulsively check Facebook — while never engaging in Facebook “activity” — and my emails — while never composing an email.  Some people eat donuts at times like this, and others pull their hair out.  Still others smoke cigarettes.  Lots of them.  My unique stress-management idea (check the internet for A LONG TIME) is not conducive to actual productivity.

So, I’m writing.  This always helps.

How do you make time for things that you need?  So many of my selves — past and present — and so many people I know struggle with knowing how to keep a job … and how to hang on to dignity, a commitment to beauty and serenity, the heft of the heart.  Being in grad school is hard, but I had this same struggle when I worked 30-35 hours a week a few years ago.  I worked in an office, with no windows, and did basically nothing that mattered at all, all day.  Watched YouTube videos.  Read people’s blogs about their fave exercise regimens.  When I got home, I wanted to sulk, try to understand why an entire Day had happened for most people, but not for me.  Or, rather, try to avoid thinking about it.  I read lots of novels in those days.  And lived for the weekend.

How to not do this?  I’m doing a large amount of stuff, now.  And still have to muscle in time to do things that open up the top of my head.  And sometimes (like this afternoon perhaps), I can’t even muscle it.  Time clamps shut.  Days turn over.

On a positive note: This morning, I woke up filled with negativity.  I mean, I WOKE UP pissed that I had to participate in the day.  Gruffed at Marshall, gruffed at the darkness of the morning, gruffed at my poverty of work clothes, and gruffed at some driver that did something irritating — can’t remember what it was.  I couldn’t be happy, driving to work.  Sitting in my teacher pants.  Teacher button-up shirt.

Coming around the curve of Hall of Fame, hitting the gas, I said something to myself about how it was like this day didn’t even exist, since I wasn’t allowed to live in it, to really see it or feel it.  And of course according to the rule of the universe, there in front of me, above me, was a glittering sea of the sun’s eternal day.  The sun was coming up, salmon, lemon, into a mackerel sky, fissuring the purple clouds with light veins.  So, there you go.  The day is going to happen, and — wherever I am — I am going to participate in it.

The sun exists, always.  Isn’t that odd?  While I am in my dank office underneath Neyland Stadium, grading the eternal sea of homework, there is the sun above me in its eternal day.  Looking at Earth, discovering its lives, observing (with care, mostly, so far) its changing face, changing organs.

 

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