When you work at home, business hours are 24-7. It’s a hard habit to break, at least without a fair amount of guilt--even in the summer. I don't actually work 24 hours a day, but, because I make my own schedule, I'm just as likely to be working at 10PM as at 10AM. And, since I'm not a morning person, I'm more likely to be working at 7PM than 7AM.
Despite the fact that June and July signify summer vacation, I feel guilty if I'm not being productive at the same rate that I am during the school year because my primary job description changes. In June and July, I can focus on my writing, harnessing the full power of my creative energy to use in crafting articles and writing books. But I feel as though my creative clock is ticking. The guilt soundtrack plays mournfully in the back of my mind whenever I sit down to read, watch TV or just chill because I know that during the school year, some of that creative energy will be siphoned off for class planning, which means my well of creative energy sometimes runs dry before I sit down with my characters. So I have to make the most of June and July before they
absquatulate, taking with them the longer days and adequate sleep (sort of) that allow me to access my creativity with fewer distractions.
But August? August is the collision of every aspect of my life in one crazy busy, messy month. At least this August. My daughter's summer job is winding down, so we're finally attacking some of the sorting/purging/organizing she's been talking about doing since May. This newer, leaner collection of possessions is counterbalanced (at least temporarily), however, by the acquisition of everything she will need to put her dorm room together--back-to-school shopping with a twist and a much bigger budget.
We're taking one last quick family trip this month, too--a couple days in New York to see a Billy Joel concert and wander around Manhattan. Since the goal of August is to find the sweet spot that blends productive writing time with productive class planning and family time, my laptop is making the trip with us. Since I love writing on trains, whether or not it makes it out of the bag will depend on my family's chattiness and connection (or lack thereof) to electronic devices of their own, as well as
our ability to nab seats that make writing possible.
August also means it's time to get serious about syllabi and adding in all the fun stuff I've been collecting in a big, mostly electronic, pile all summer long. Compiling the links I sent myself all summer was a multi hour process--one that reminded me that I need to be specific in my subject lines from now on to save myself time when I harvest all those cool ideas in August and figure out where to integrate them. Still, this process got me excited about doing old things in new ways and moving my classes closer to the ideal I envision.
All of this--including back-to-school shopping, to a certain extent--is normal August stuff which has so far managed to distract me from the big August event, which is my daughter's departure for college. She finishes work this week and, next week, we have one (last) full week to enjoy each other's company, get in each other's way, finish up all the shopping, start the packing and do all the myriad things that keep popping into my head as the month progresses. I know we're not the first family to do this, or the only family in the process of doing it right now. But it's our first time, and it feels enormous. I've been so focused on the excitement of what lies ahead for her and the mechanics of getting everything together that the reality of this life change has come to me only in small snippets.
It's probably better that way. Just as this busy August full of all the usual stuff (and a few surprises) has kept me focused on the big picture, where I am, admittedly, most comfortable, so has it reduced the drama leading up to the final countdown. But now, here we are, and I can feel my bravery crumbling. There aren't enough characters, articles or syllabi in sight to block the view of the bridge my daughter will be crossing. As long as I'm creating one more to-do list, checking off one more set of tasks, purchasing one more necessary item, I can live in the fog beside the bridge, knowing she's going, but not
having to face it.
In just two and a half weeks, I'm going to have to face it.
|Tichnor Brothers Post Card Collection|
Boston Public Library
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