A break. For driving exactly 500 miles. For resuming a paused yoga practice. For making and sharing tacos on the smallest of corn shells. For studying the curls rising from French pressed coffee, French press being the only available in this Michigan spring breaking place. 42°16′4″ N 83°35′39″ W. 61F and a wind advisory because the troposphere is delivering late morning a wall of stiff winter air. A break for punch-listing several work to-dos. For review tasks needing caught up. For reading. For writing.
Indeed, this is the feeling of Spring Break ending. ‘Twas productive, though not as productive as I told myself it would be.
Two full days this week—Tuesday and today—occupied with reading and reviewing student work means I am almost (almost) finished with the spring term. Today’s workday consisted of reading final projects and exams for ENGL328—a pleasurable enough undertaking all unto itself that it was not exactly a relief when my dentist’s office called late morning to offer a wait-list invitation for a 1 p.m. cleaning. Needed a break anyway: sure, I’ll take it.
Talkative hygienist talked: about a pain-free gum-poke test she would administer, about the relatively unkempt upper-outer-left region, about how that was because I was right handed, about the Chinese lanterns she’d used to decorate the vacation Bible school classroom where she’d spent that morning, about how I was her first patient of the day, about slow-notice children who saw and asked about the Chinese lanterns for the first time today, about how it makes no sense that EMU needed to raise tuition this year, about etc., about etc. For the price of clean teeth, an hour of arhetorical listening, I kept thinking. And then back to the office for two hours or so of more work.
Gems from the exams included one poignant opening paragraph that described exactly what I understand to be the value of this version of ENGL328. Another had the momentarily-profound-seeming typo, Elements If Style. And then there were sentences that rattled around in my head all day after I read them; one about how for the interdependence of writing and living this was a class in “radical biology,” another about how teaching well means constantly sending sound lines through the water. Rattling1: an inversion of Rich’s “You must write, and read, as if your life depended on it,” as “You must live as if your reading and writing depended on it.” What is a pulse, anyway, if not streaming cardiovascular inscription? Rattling2: for the adrift, academically and otherwise, sonic confirmation that there is an uneven floor beneath these immediate surfaces. And so, yes, a delight to read, a short term near-complete, and, next, in less than 1000 minutes, summer vacation, a few weeks of summer R&R (Rest and Relaxation, better described as Reading and Research).
unkind cruel Saturday for Is.’s first soccer outing of the spring: 45F, gusting winds, light rain, swampy pitch. For a first-time experience, I would call this one heckuva difficult test–a hard check of their pre-K grit. Just forty-five minutes out there proved some admirable soccer stick-to-it-ness for these kids and their families. They typically run a 30-minute practice followed by a 15-minute game, but Team Green, our “opponent,” wanted to start the match early because their parents and kids were mutinous with complaining about the elements. We got the game underway without much if any practice session. Having served many seasons as Ph.’s coach, I am strictly a parent this time around (yeah, I’ll volunteer to hand out the shirts or distribute snack, but no coaching). Is. is three-almost-four; Ph.’s soccer rounds helped us put youth sports in perspective years ago. And so Saturday was a lot of fun. Is. ended the session with a smile, and she has asked to kick around several times since.
Reflecting on the event, Is. said, “I’m on the blue team.”