It always began and ended in the same way. May heralded the end of the college semester with heartfelt goodbyes, posted grades, and celebratory cocktails. June brought slumber with no alarms, lazy snacking, and beachy reading. But July tapped at her shoulder about the need to plan everything, something, or anything for the impending semester and that tapping became a prodding disquiet as the month waned into the hazy days of August. As Sophie tore away July from the desk calendar, August told her off: “Summer is almost over, and you’ve done nothing!”
Sophie rationalized that each semester required such intensity and focus that this break was well deserved, damn it. She still had time too. All it took was a couple of emails to the publishing reps and complimentary exam copies would be delivered right to her doorstep. Then, she could skim those textbooks between things, like on the train or in the car, and if she wasn’t too tired or too sunburned, Sophie could flip through some chapters when she got home.
Or she could just use the same textbooks from before, couldn’t she? Sophie recalled having to fill some gaps for her students, but they’d managed it together, hadn’t they? Yes, some of the textbooks were getting a little old hat, but she would willingly provide updated information and readings if necessary. Filling in the gaps and finding new material would just be another way to display her creative and flexible teaching style, right??
And… and… she could also revise her current syllabi and still use most of the same materials and videos. Okay… okay… not all of that stuff worked super well last semester, and Sophie made a promise to herself to not only find a new textbook, but also fresh materials and videos for this time around too. Wait, actually, she could take along a couple of the exam copies, printouts, and highlighters in her beach tote. Since her phone was a powerful computer in her pocket, finding new material would be really easy. If there is wifi, of course. She didn’t want to use too many minutes on her data plan, after all.
August 7th wasn’t as angry as August 1st, but it nagged Sophie: “One week down! Have you sent those emails or revised your curriculum yet?” She marked big red slashes across each day that passed and drew a purple circle around the first day of classes. There were two weeks left, no, actually 14 whole days and nights, to make real headway. Yeah, August, suck it.
August 12th was softer but a little more nervous: “Wow, summer really is almost over, isn’t it?” But… but… maybe the publishing reps could send the exam copies via priority mail, or if they could swing it, express overnight mail. Even better! Sure, her inbox was flooded with automatic replies about them being out of the office, but they’d definitely reply soon. Any day now… no need to be nervous…
August 19th whispered sweet nothings after August 12th left Sophie feeling so unaccomplished: “Baby, just change the syllabi dates, create a few new class handouts, and post an announcement about buying used textbooks from the campus bookstore to save $. Now, go enjoy your last few weeks of freedom. xoxo”
This was the kind of realism she wanted all along.
Cheryl Comeau-Kirschner is a wife, mother, and educator who never procrastinates, but when she does, she makes up stories about it.