There is no year of my life that has not, at some fundamental level, been wrapped up in the academic calendar.
My father was a university professor: our family vacations ran on his schedule.
Then there were my years of pre-school, elementary school, junior high, high school, and boarding school (a new and different schedule, that, but still, in principle the same.) College.
Working for my college for the year after graduation. I had very little to do with students, in general (I was doing web and project design for faculty), but you could still feel the ebb and flow of the school no matter what else happened.
I moved to Minnesota, for one year *not* working for a school – but in graduate school myself part time.
And then I began my current job, where I’ve been since fall of 2000, working in an independent day school. There are many things I love about it.
One of them is how often I get to pause and reflect on how much I love it. Every year, the last week teachers are around, there’s a parade of special lunches, ceremonies, in between the meetings. Some of the process gets a little tedious – but many of them help me remember just how fantastic the people I work with are, how neat the kids are, why I enjoy getting up almost every morning. (Almost. I *am* human, after all.)
And then there’s the part we’re in right now. The beginning of the year.
It’s unusually exciting this year. We’ve moved my desk (in the hopes being in the office will make noise-distractable me a) less stressed and b) more productive). We’ve negotiated some new duties that make my salary manageable, but that give me some significant challenges. And we have new carpet (the original, from the early 70s addition, was in place until last week) and a little new paint.
We come back a week before the faculty (who will be here next week.) They’re already trickling back to look at rooms and have initial meetings with colleagues, and it’s hard to go an hour without someone stopping by to chat about their summer (always too short!) and what they have in mind.
I’ve been sorting magazines (we get about 50), a process that always brings the news of the summer back in rush. Later this week, I get to start updating our patron database (something that has to be done manually.) And next week, we’re back to meetings and faculty gatherings. The week after that, students.
All of them remind me of cycles and new beginnings, and new possibilities. I love that.
But it’s also sometimes a little weird: it’s obviously (and for some historical reasons) off kilter from the traditional agricultural busy points. Just when my religious life is telling me to go be introspective and reflective, my work life is getting hectic with major projects. Just when my religious life is telling me to work hard on goals and projects, my schedule drops out from beneath me, and I often find myself somewhat adrift as summer vacation hits.
Now, there are advantages to some of this: four of the eight Sabbats fall in my vacations generally, so it can be easier for me to prepare in an unhurried way for ritual. I get a natural sense of ebb and flow to my schedule: things build and then diminish. I’m constantly turning from project to project as cycles shift and different things become easier to work on. I’m never bored.
But at the same time, it does give me a strange perspective on the Wheel of the Year. And one I think I’m never going to quite shake, even if I eventually end up working somewhere that isn’t a school.