Well, so there have been rumblings and grumblings and artillery fire in the distance, and I have insisted on being very ostrich-head-in-the-sand-y about things here at Heartichoke Headquarters, but the first department meeting of the fall semester always, to my mind, constitutes the official opening salvo of the academic calendar.
I feel like I’m still, in many respects, processing what feels like a gloriously whirlwindish summer — much in the same way I’m still organizing and editing photographs from my travels. I’m at an interesting place where the images and physical memories of being in the places where the pictures were taken still seems quite fresh and clear, but the photographs themselves — particularly the ones I like the most — seem like a shocking surprise. They are rapidly becoming their own discrete objects. This process seems more fluid to me — more like a Polaroid developing — than the instantaneous not-the-thing-itselfness — that constant separation/mediation between thought/image/speech/memory — that happens with poetry and prose. During my travels, I consciously made an effort to spend time with the camera down, simply looking/being without the mediation of the lens, without documenting, and these are the moments I can call up very clearly within my mind. The pictures, though? Constant surprises after-the-fact. I love this process of re-vision.
But the fall semester. It loometh.
I think what I appreciate the most about summer is the opportunity to become more of a student myself again. To learn/try/see new things, to read off-topically and on-topically, to establish better (ha!) study habits, to just sometimes be very still/quiet, and — most importantly — to reestablish connections with my own writing that inevitably deteriorate during the height of end-of-the-semester craziness (if not earlier). So I’m concerned about losing sight of some of these things once I layer some of the other components back in. Mostly it’s not wanting to turn into Grading Borg. Or, worse yet, Crabby Procrastinating Grading Borg.
I adore fall, though, and the clean slate-ishness of the new school year. I’m happy about the classes I’m teaching, and really looking forward to seeing my students again. This always seems like a time of excitement and energy for me: shiny protractors, new rulers, crayons with wax-perfect tips, the smell of fresh pencil shavings, and pinkpink erasers!
In the meantime? There’s a Lemon Refrigerator Cheesecake (with homemade lemon curd) chillaxing in the fridge for tonight’s back-to-school departmental potluck.