Waist deep! Up to my neck, up to my ears, up to my eyeballs, apparently all idioms for the northward progressions of work, all which apply to myself, my assistant, and any who breathe or walk our hallways. We have officially cast off the mooring lines of summer and are adrift in the sea of academia. That notion seems so romantic, so simple: Students basking in the shade of a large tree pondering the lecture last given or reading material for the class to come, small groups sitting around tables passionately debating which comes first epistemology or ontology with weekends off to a function or party. Ahhhh college days. However this sea, which we here now hopelessly float in, apparently has sharks. Worse yet we are stuck on this lonesome raft miles off shore and need to be somewhere on December 9, for that’s finals week. Not sure if I have a paddle, not sure if I have a chart and I’m not sure if I’ve found my ration of water just yet. What I do know is that we’re each alone. We each have an individual mission to progress ourselves, to raise the bar or to hurdle the bar raised in times before us. No one can memorize the graphs, write the papers or take the exams that only we must do for ourselves. And the expectations to compete in this race are overwhelming. Some days to cast your eyes on one of those “to-do” lists leaves us with a sinking feeling. A feeling of impossibility.
With all that, does it mean we needn’t get in some exercise, bathe or eat? How about work? Yes, it must all get done and today we start to feel the squeeze. Students are now stepping away from the farm for school, leaving the sad tomatoes to bask in the recent heat unloved and unattended. A pouty lonely garden is what we have. All summer have these plants been talked to, loved on and raised up to be what they are today. And, yes now too they are all alone. They have been cast free from the safe harbor of our student gardeners to float alone on the sea of life. But, they aren’t completely alone. This morning at 7:30 as I stood in the front of a very sleepy landscape class, attempting to awaken them with some polite banter in preparation to the enlightening they were to receive, what squeaks from the mouth of a crusty eyed student? “I miss my tomatoes”. Yes, in a heavy Russian accent Inna proclaimed to the world that she missed “her” tomatoes. To which all chimed in their support. And, as the class came to a close they each made plans to slip out to the gardens for a good hard harvest. School, work, and play all aboard their tinny little raft that they paddle toward December 9. The garden must still be tended, the baskets prepared and now the class work, new students and departmental administration must be added.
Yes, I’m complaining. I can’t complain to my wife as she is busy, I can’t to my students as they are busy or my own kids as they are starting school as well. So, I’m complaining to my paper for it was the only thing blank and empty of burden when I sat down to write. In a weak moment I rant, banging my head on the “vintage” desk that the University allowed me to pull from a dusty closet. Such a hard bang that I’m beginning to see a lump at the tip top of my head. I’ve called hem Leonard. And, from what I can tell I’m now up to my Leonard in work. - Garth