Time

It’s time for disclosure.  The reason I haven’t been blogging isn’t just that I’ve gone back to work.  It’s that I’m slated to deliver four conference papers this semester, none of which I’d written before the start of term. And I’m on three faculty committees, two as a contributing member and one as the chair.  And I’m up for tenure.  Right.  Now.  And then, too, yes, sure, I have gone back to work, which means I have to teach some classes, and mark some papers, and see my students, and I’m getting fond of them like I always do, and giving them more and more of my time.  And then there are the added responsibilities of being a faculty resident.  I ran a “meet your faculty resident” brunch last Sunday and 30 or 40 kids showed up, and everything was great;  and there’ll be a book discussion at my house in a couple of weeks;  etc. So I’m going and going and not looking back, and all of my life has taken on a surreal, superficial aspect even more than usual.  I make messes, in every sense, and I just don’t have time to clean them up;  it’s a miracle I can get Eila’s field trip forms signed and returned in what we call around here a timely fashion.

I’m in Pittsburgh now, poised to deliver the first of the four papers, and I’m remembering how much I like this city, 250 years old, in which everything is rusted and dilapidated, and the hills and the fall leaves remind me of home, only it’s home in the American mode, which means it’s a mess, but a working mess, a mess that still holds together, quite a lot like my life this semester.  Pittsburgh is a good place.

And because I’m away from home I’m reading Alexander McCall Smith (the only thing I can stand on planes and in hotels) and I’m thinking about how different my life is from that of his Batswana, who spend time watching cattle or just looking at the ceiling.  And yet, again, my life is their life.  Because what I don’t have this semester is time for the extra, nonsensical troubles we bring on ourselves.  I have time for everything important, and That. Is. All.

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