having a below average weekend
Today was a pretty rotten day. We started the new semester on Friday, and I can't seem to shake the anxious, horribly unprepared feeling I've had for weeks. Even though report cards are done, even though my semester started with relatively few problems, I can't seem to get over the cornered, trapped feeling. So I've been trying to spend the weekend resting as much as possible, but it's been hard to do. On Friday we all went to my department head's retirement dinner, which was very emotional for me, and another source of heartbreak is that I won't be teaching with him anymore. (More about this later.)
Early Saturday morning, Mason went off to pick up Sage for the weekend, and I tried with little success to root myself out of bed while Blake made repeated sallies into the bedroom to help me get up. I think I'm coming down with something, which means that I haven't really been well for weeks. By the time I got out of bed, I had an hour to shower and clean the house for the troupe. I also have no internet this week, so I had no idea how many people would be arriving come the noon hour, or if I was on the hook to pick up Juuki. I had to resort to that most antiquated of communication devices, the telephone.
After practice, Blake & I drove to my parents, got in their car, and drove to my grandparents' house for dinner with my uncles and their partners. It was a roast beef dinner, and very good as these things go, but it was a melancholy night all the same. I kept turning around, wondering when my grandmother would emerge from some hidden recess to greet us and fuss over Blake. The roast beef as overseen by my uncle's husband, was lovely and rare, though she would have roasted the crap out of it. There were small, neat stacks of papers and things in the corners of rooms, mess she wouldn't have tolerated. I looked at the photo frame I gave her for Christmas, filled with pictures from my summer vacation, that she'd never had a chance to put up. My grandfather complained about the Stephen King book I'd lent him two weeks ago, giving it back with all possible speed. Blake ate too many treats and had to be put in time out twice. I ran out of knitting 20 minutes after dinner. It was not one of our best visits.
Today Blake misbehaved in church, the little toddler I was watching in the Nursery became inconsolable 15 minutes before the end of church, and then my mother called me into another room to tell me some horrible secrets from her childhood that shed some albeit irrational light on why she is so suspicious of Mason. By the time I got downstairs, Blake was bragging about eating four sugary treats although I'd told him that we'd have to go straight home to help take care of Sage. When we finally got home, Sage was in a wretched mood, refusing to sleep and bursting into inconsolable and messy tears at frequent intervals. I started to cry. Then I went to my room, took off my church clothes, and huddled under the covers until I'd cried myself out.
I feel so far from recovered that it's a joke. I feel pounded down, mistreated, smooshed up and reconstituted at half my original dilution. I can't wait to see my new students tomorrow.
Thoughts on the retirement of my department head:
When I left Hogsboro and started at Bat Masterson, everything took a sharp turn for the better. It took me months to realize that my new department head wasn't simply part of the package, but a powerful reason why my days were a dance of joy.
I could go into his office in the morning with any crazy story of my weekend, and he would smile appreciatively and make some comment – wry or kind, depending on the circumstance – and I would always go away feeling better. Information on new book talk on the CBC was greeted as warmly as a rambling anecdote of a weeknight concert where the balloons dropped from the ceiling after midnight. He loved good food, good theatre, good alcohol, good books, and good cities. He went to sophisticated art galleries with his artist wife and he could be counted on to dance wildly to "Lust for Life" if you were lucky enough to get the DJ to play it.
One of the people who spoke at the retirement gathering said that my department head lived the golden rule, treating others as he wanted to be treated. I disagree. He never worked by this kind of justice, meting out kindness as a social contract. He was wildly generous with his time and attention. His enthusiasm was lavished on us all. He treated others as a happy baby might, delighted by novelty and easily comforted by familiarity. He was loyal to a fault, and we all went to him with our problems, no matter how minor or embarrassing. He always had our backs with students, parents and administration. He was a father figure, a wise professor, an epicure and a crazy hockey punk all at once.
I don't feel that I will ever get over the thought of not having him in his classroom, ready to bail me out, prop me up or let me stretch. It hasn't even been a day, and I'm already crushed.
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Don't make me send out the Blake. He doesn't listen to *anyone.*