Tuesday, February 14, 2012


I thought life would be easier once I finished pushing a rock up the hill every day. Thing is, that can often be done in the comfort of one's home.

Full-time teaching can be an exercise in more than just mental agility, you see. Thankfully, I now have spare copies of my comp textbook and other textbook that I can just leave at home all the time, freeing up space in my bag and weight off my back. The Shorter Norton Anthology I used in grad school is about three editions out of date, but I've taught this class before. If the reading isn't there I can wing it and prep off of previous powerpoint slides.

The only drawback to having a school edition and a home edition of books is that sometimes you forget and make notes to yourself in the margins, or leave helpful post-its to flag important passages, only to glance ruefully at the unmarked textbook you pull off the office shelf the next morning: Argh, damn!

I'm glad I'm not carting around three or four bricks sets of books every day any more, but it hardly seems to make a difference, as, like kipple, the sheer quantity of stuff I need to schlep back and forth between school and home is constantly growing.  It's amazing.

I need to eat less. Or invest in smaller tupperware, since when I take ordinary leftovers in as my lunch, I pack the lunch bag so tight it bulges, and then have the near-impossibility of cramming a lunch sphere into my shoulderbag. But these are long days, you know? It's cheaper to pack snacks and sodas ... just not logistically feasible.

That's to say nothing of the finished, half-finished, and completely ignored grading I routinely cart home, promising to work on it, only to cart it back the next morning, promising to work on it right before my classes. Am I expecting a medal for finishing the relay? Am I expecting the homework to slowly "cure" into graded homework, much like churning butter?

Don't get me started on the random informative papers and/or flyers I need to bring home, then don't actually clean out of the bag. I will stop for a moment though to complain about possibly my weirdest habit ever: every morning, I dress and clean up and put on makeup, and then grab a lipstick. I put on the lipstick or gloss after breakfast and starting to drink my coffee, then throw it in my purse, because I will have no lipstick on by the time I actually teach class. I never actually "touch up." Every month or so, I clean out an enormous pile of lip sticks, lip gloss, chapstick, and pots of color from my purse, take them upstairs, and pile them in the bathroom. Then the process begins again. Sometimes the reverse process happens through the accumulation of dry-erase markers that I then deposit on the front table where I leave my keys. The eternal exchange, the slow transfer of lip sticks for dry-erase pens might be the ultimate example of sisyphean labor, or a comforting demonstration of the Law of Conservation of Matter. I leave it for you to decide.

If I could get all of this crap into my bag, things might work out all right. But it seems that no matter what I have planned for class that day, no matter how few classes are actually meeting, I'm going to have to take at least two trips. From anywhere. The exigencies of weather mean that I get out of my car while juggling two bags, a purse, an umbrella, a travel mug of coffee, and a spherical lunch bag that will neither stay put in a bag nor hang from my wrist --- maybe I should just kick it across campus; I've certainly dropped it enough when it squicks out of the shoulderbag like a greased pig when the barn door's been left open --- and all of this frantic dropping and slipping and cussing and fumbling is with gloves on, since they've given up on regular rain here and have upgraded, according to the weather service, to "ice pellets." Isn't that hail? Snow-hail? It's snow-aining? Rainowing? Cold and slippery and intermittently painful, that's what it is. I am inventing entire new book's worth of profanity while juggling hot coffee, an umbrella, and multiple bags (along with the greased pig) in my bemittened hands. Someone in their infinite wisdom put a "quick retract" button on the handle of the umbrella right where I hold it, too, so often I have to stop and put everything down and manually re-open it to escape the rainow.

So, yes, I'd like a Sherpa for my birthday. Or maybe I am the Sherpa. Or maybe I'd just like to grow extra arms. Not a Sherpa then but a Shiva. Sounds like a plan.


Bardiac said...

Great finish :) I like the multi arms idea.

ntbw said...

Hee! You made me choke on my yogurt! This is SO my life--the unending schlep. Only with two kids' stuff added to the baggage too. I think I want 6 more arms to be an octopus.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

You need a Mary Poppins bag. :P