Thursday, October 15, 2015

Just one more

I love my job.

My school is the best. My grandparents met at this school. So did my parents. And my brother and his wife. Without this school, I would not exist.

My students are also the best. On the days I'm in the classroom with them it doesn't matter that my alarm clock goes off way too early and is way too loud because I know I'll be teaching my students soon.

My colleagues are also, also the best. They are smart and funny and wise, and being with them makes me feel safe and inspired.

But let me tell you something:

Two summers ago I rode a giant inflatable turtle down the Lewisville River. Today, that turtle sits in my parents' garage, limp, squishy, and melting into a big hot wad.

This is how my brain feels this semester.

And this why, despite my love for my students and my delight in watching them work hard and develop as writers, I have a serious case of Grade-itis, a condition typified by the inability to sit down and begin grading essays without experiencing intense, prolonged BRAIN PAIN.

I cannot. I repeat CANNOT sit down to grade without realizing that I have SO MANY OTHER IMPORTANT THINGS TO DO. I need to write a book. Yes, I'll do that today. And then I'll hang my curtains. Those things aren't going to hang themselves. And then I'll organize my closet. I've been meaning to do this for a month, but NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME AND DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT TRYING TO CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE. And oh wow, do you hear that? The birds sure do seem happy today. I wrote a nice bit of prose about bird songs once. I should probably go find that right now. I can include it in my book. But first, I've discovered three hairs on my big toe. I need to pluck them. I cannot say ANYTHING else about this student's thesis statement until I HAVE PLUCKED THESE HAIRS. My students' grades depend on it.

I wish I could tell you that these are all pretend thoughts I had on a pretend day, but I love Jesus and I cannot tell a gratuitous lie. It has been a major grading crisis over here.

So I told myself, "Self, you have a Skype doctor's appointment today at 2:30. You need to grade eight essays before then. Yes, you may do the laundry. Yes, you may clean your closet. Yes, you  may work on your book. But you also need to have eight essays done."

When I ran college track I discovered a neurotic tendency to want to run "just one more" hill, or set of hurdles, or lap. I'd run till my stomach turned inside out, my muscles filled with lactic acid, and my coach was content. And then my teammates and I would look at each other and we'd say, "We could be done now, but let's do one more." And then we'd do it again. And again.

Now that I am old and mature this neurosis manifests itself when I am eating ice cream. "Oh look! There's a fudge chunk down there in that carton. It looks like it's suffocating from all that thick ice cream pressing in on it. Let me rescue it." And then I look down again and I see "just one more" chunk needing rescuing, and then "just one more," until I've eaten the entire carton of ice cream, which is a rather impressive feat if you ask me. So you see, all those years of running track really paid off.

Today, with my 2:30 doctor's appointment looming, I pressed through 1,2,3,4,5,6 essays. And then I remembered something: once I make it to the 6th essay, I begin grading essays like I eat ice cream. "Just one more," I'll say as soon as I decide to quit. And then: "just one more." And then: another one. It's a blessed neurosis about which I'd forgotten as I've not graded six essays in one sitting in ages.

So the key is getting to the 6th essay. But oh sweet heavens, getting there is so hard.

Also, coming up with reasons to eat unhealthy food is one of my special gifts. Are you craving a bag of potato chips? If you have low blood pressure you should probably eat them. All that salt is exactly what your poor blood pressure needs. Are you hankering for a bacon burger? Go for it. You need the iron from that beef, and you DEFINITELY need the endorphins that will ooze when you eat that bacon. Do you want a tub of fudge ice cream? Eat the whole thing and then say, "Well that was a brilliant object lesson for the best way to grade papers." And then go grade your papers the way you ate your ice cream.

I'd also like to tell you that Skype doctor's appointments are the best. All of my doctors are in Washington and Oregon so I'm doing Skype appointments with them when I'm in California. I like Skype appointments for some of the same reasons I like Skype dates with men I meet online: I don't have to leave the house and I get to wear my sweats. I also like limiting my interaction with really sick people. One of the worst things about going to the doctor is watching all the sick people coming and going. It's enough to make a girl want to curl up in the fetal position and whimper. All that pain. All the mysterious illness. All the bills. All the deflated dreams. It's just too much. But with Skype dates, the only sick person you gotta see is yourself.

My appointment today went well. I feel good about the next phase in my treatment plan. This doctor is being very cautious with me since my body is so fragile, and I have growing trust for him. His next steps align with my intuitive sense of what my next steps should be. I'm hopeful that the next phase of the plan will be as effective as the last phase. We're still in the discovery phase as we try to definitively pinpoint causes for all of the things we've found wrong with me, but I don't feel as much anxiety about finding a diagnosis ASAP because the treatment is helping in the meantime. If you think of it, I'd love prayer as I try to figure out which tests to move forward with next. 

Okay, I told myself I could take a break from grading to write this, but my break is over. So I'm back to the routine: "Just one more essay."

Happy Thursday, friends.

Cheering for you.


© by scj

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