Hello and happy Spring Break (at least to those of us in MNSCU- the rest of you can feel free to reread this next week). Tabatha here, I have escaped from the Friday Fiction Feature to share some thoughts from a new graduate student and teacher with an observation on “Spring” Break.
For those of us who
work live in academe, Spring Break represents something wonderful. After we watch trudge through the cold, dark (or snow-blindingly-bright) winter days, we look forward to this rarity: an entire week away from campus. An opportunity to experience that phenomenon only rumored in the depths of the cramped offices and windowless classrooms: sunlight. dream of spending time on the things we enjoy; pursuing our interests instead of our due dates.
For those of us who didn’t flee to warmer climes (where I hear winter temperatures are positive numbers!), this is perhaps an even more welcome fantasy. For we dream not only of the freedom from school, but of the freedom from winter. Even the name “Spring Break” conjures images of those beautiful three weeks we Minnesotans call Spring. That time when you can go outside with less than seven layers of warm clothes, when you can see grass on the ground (green grass if you’re lucky), when you can open the windows and really think about finally starting that garden. Of course, we’re not fooled, we know Spring Break is going to have more snow than Christmas, but in those long months anticipating the reprieve, we can’t help dreaming because it does still represent something warm and lovely.
Now, those privileged few- you know the ones, those people who get to travel, go somewhere warm, sit on a beach and forget about school, work, or due dates –you know… undergrads– they think Spring Break really is a time for relaxation and closed textbooks.
But we know better. We know Spring Break is really just a great opportunity to catch up on work, to read those new articles, to (ha!) try and get ahead on our grading. Those dreams of the Spring Break made up of walks outside, evenings with a movie that never thought about having subtext, or books that we will never cite are just that: dreams, ephemeral visions of a time that never quite materializes.
So I say we should all do the unthinkable: schedule our spring break time!
I know, I know- spring break is a time to revel in our lack of schedule, to sleep in until the sun (or more likely our too-insistent internal alarm clock) wakes us up. That no matter how much we may still be working, we get that one, inalienable right: sleeping in! But, if you are still willing to listen to me after that piece of heresy, try to follow me just a bit further. Make a list. Make a list of all of the things you need to do over spring break. Then make a list of things you want to do. Then— dare I say it— give it a due date. I know, I know! Due dates are the worst evil we escape when we leave school for the week! But decide that first list must be completed before Wednesday, and follow through. Because once you’ve finished that list, you begin your next homework assignment: the wish list.
Once the first list is done (or Wednesday hits- whichever comes first) your new -and more important- homework is to check as many things off the ‘want to’ list as you possibly can. We may not be able to join the undergrads in Mexico, but we can at least join our families/significant others/friends/neighbors/like-minded strangers in spending a few days doing nothing. Turn off the computer, tell your students your e-mail is broken, hide your textbooks, throw on your comfiest pajamas, and sit back with a cup of Earl Grey and a cheap paperback (if I’m not 3 plot-twists into an Agatha Christie novel by Thursday something has gone terribly awry). Because weather we braved the Midwestern weather, hid out in our offices, or surmounted impossible piles of grading or homework, we’ve been good little academics, and we deserve some time off. Perhaps we can live the dream, make that ephemera real, at least for a few days.
So, with these thoughts, I invite you to join me in admiring this beautiful seaside, and wishing we were there, pretending we didn’t have to be grown-ups.