apologies to james joyce

I need a Sabbath.

My breaks are getting shorter. (hello, real world.) My freshman year of college I came home to five weeks of free laundry, free meals, no essays, and that was about it. Before Christmas Day hit I was ready to go back to school. That was when 7 pages was a long paper.

Classes are over for the semester, and my to-do list for finals week is relatively short. And there’s only one final assignment listed. The rest is all preparation for next semester. I had to go to the library to return several pounds of books, and check out a book for a presentation. For Next Semester. I’m not opposed to being assigned work before the first day of classes. Not even on principle. As I’m preparing for my own course, I recognize the potential value in hitting the ground running. But I won’t; the first day will be syllabus, as expected. I fear the moment I email out an assignment, half the students would drop before setting eyes on my lovely face.

Sabbath. There is a reason why we get breaks between semesters. But I realize, as I have to be planning out assignments, selecting readings, and discussions, and already feeling a presentation deadline looming, that Sabbath is something I have to create for myself. I have to decide to go home and cook dinner and have tea and read about music. I’m glad that the breaks have gotten shorter, and I’m glad that I’m not really allowed to be idle.

But there is a little part of me that wishes I could go home for a true break (sabbatical if you will), sit on the couch, catch up on cable, and eat all my mom’s Christmas candy (before we’re allowed). But then I just start to get fat and fight with my sister.

Even though I still have a to-do list, and even though there are already assignments for the semester following the one that has not yet ended, the pace has finally slowed. The overture turned to quickness of the first round of presentations and initial essays. Then the second movement built up in preparation for the scherzo dance of midterms, which did not let up as the allegro as the late nights and quick typing and harried printings took over. And now we’re in the deliberate coda of final assignments and loose ends. The tempo has slowed but the music does not stop.

The goal in the upcoming weeks is find ways—even if they are small—to catch my breath and notice the beauty of the dance that we do here “in the academy” (why does that sound so pretentious?)

I will probably be baking and cooking quite a bit. And taking some time to enjoy the company of friends and our collective successes for making it to another December, and all the better for it.


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