I just cleaned my bathrooms for the last time this summer, well actually for the last time this year.
No, I'm not a candidate for that goofy reality show where those two weird British ladies sashay into some strange person's house only to find piles of discarded Carleton Sheets manuals and guinea pig pooh-pooh side by side. (Apparently, said guinea pig did not believe she could buy property with no money down.)
I am a clean person, and a fair to middlin' housekeeper, but despite my best efforts to deny the facts of the case, I'm a teacher and it's time to go back to school! Work will now have to take precedence over all my June-Cleaver-isn't-it-fun-to dust-while-wearing-heels tendencies.
Waaaaaaaaah! It can't be! Something isn't right here! I just now got the smell of copy machine toner out of my system. Wasn't it only yesterday that I was averaging final grades and checking in stomped-upon, mud-encrusted copies of The Scarlet Letter?
"Well, Miz Jeffers, it was in my uncle's nephew's girlfriend's truck and uh, I forgot to get it out before we went boggin'."
It took me until nearly the end of June to quit leaping out of bed at 5:15 in a panic, screeching at my husband to "please turn on my dadburn hairsetter and get me some coffee!"
And it wasn't really until last week that I felt completely secure lolling about until 10:00 in the morning, watching Lifetime Movies For Women while eating leftover Key Lime pie in my nightgown.
I've only recently gotten used to my mid-afternoon nap, followed by a 4 o'clock snooze if Oprah's telling us how rich she is again. And despite the high cost of gas, I haven't had enough lazy rides to nowhere in particular with Mikie, or shared enough impromptu suppers of watermelon and popcorn, if both the boys were out with friends.
How decadently delicious it's been to bump from side to side on a Walmart float in my aboveground pool, just me and the cicadas under God's blue sky, how thrilling to read something just for fun.
I've really enjoyed my insomnia this summer too. One night at 2:30, I finally got to catch Bogart in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, before eventually falling back into blissful unconsciousness for three more languid hours.
But now, it's "peanut butter and jelly time" again, or 15-minute lunches swallowed whole, combined with six-thirty traffic snarls, sensible shoes, and Shakespeare.
I do realize that, in the "real world," most people who aren't teachers or students have been trudging back and forth to the salt mines all summer, so I should feel lucky I've had such a nice block of days off. (And I promise I won't bore you by vociferously attacking the false assumption that educators have two months "off," though the fact of the matter is with re-certifying, accreditation documentation, and other trials of the trade, I know of no teacher who actually has more than a couple of weeks free.)
The truth is I do feel extremely fortunate, not only with my vacation time, but with my job in general. I honestly get excited just thinking about jumping back in the fray and molding young minds; I'm as giddy now buying new school supplies as I was forty years ago.
When students ask me how to decide on their life's work, I always say do what you are passionate about doing and the stresses of any career will pale next to its rewards. They have for me. I realized early on that I loved words, and almost anything mankind could do with them, I loved imparting what knowledge and skills I had to others, and I loved teenagers.
Where else would God have put me than in a high school English classroom?
And besides which, ever since Mikie retired, he's been an absolutely fabulous househusband, cleaning, cooking, and coping with the everyday trauma of running our lives. Thanks to him I'm able to focus on my work more fully and less frantically than many.
Nevertheless, he does draw the line at dusting in anything but sneakers. Plus, I don't think he and Edna, our resident guinea pig, have ever seriously considered flipping real estate a la Carleton. They have, however, already started planning what we'll do on Christmas break.
So, here we come, ready or not - school year 2005-2006 - with all its early mornings, essays, and enlightening moments - may it be the best one yet!
(Mindy Jeffers is a Martinez resident.)
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