By the end of the academic and calendar year, I am burnt out. I might be independently driven on most days, but as the end of semester to do list starts to pile up, and as people start decking their halls, I want to hide from the growing stack of papers on my desk.
For the past two years at this very time, I have been grading until the bitter end, and this semester, juggling three classes and four sets of final papers, is no exception. I recently admitted to myself that I am not a starter, so getting the grading boat out of the harbor was no easy feat.
I finally buckled down and slogged through my students’ work. Teachers like to complain about grading but I typically find grading fulfilling. Some students ignore your advice, your assignment, or perhaps the entire course. But many actually listen, and because I ask most of my students to write a short note about their work, I get to see how they’ve internalized what they’ve learned. Reading their work this semester took time, but I felt proud of what they accomplished.
So here we are on December 23rd. The grading is done, the comments and feedback returned via email to my students and the grades posted. And because the holidays are upon us, I shall hear very few quibbles about their marks (I hope).
I am spent. Out of energy to do anything.
I did the dishes, folded some laundry, cleaned out my work bag. I look around my house where I know we have neglected everything and I wonder where to start. In these moments where I have pushed everything off and been swallowed up by work, I hardly know how to claw my way back to reality.
The joy I feel in finishing the work is overshadowed by the reality that life goes on. It is so anticlimactic.
As I resist the urge to draft a new checklist, I’m diving headlong into the next few days. All I can think to myself is that I need a little Christmas, right this very minute because on Christmas everything stops. On Christmas, if only for a little while, everything gets quiet.
I’m trying to get swallowed up in the quiet, in the nothing of the next few days. Not celebrating Christmas is delicious because it means I get a break too–a break with few obligations. The checklist will be there tomorrow. The responsibilities will be there tomorrow, too.
For tonight, I’m going to try to rest easy.