Transitions are hard, y’all. And my job is full of them.
Sure, I do the same thing every semester, but the way the school year works is weird. There’s so much build up to the fall semester where you get everything set and then power through, and then you push through to Christmas. You get a month off, and start it up again. I taught for the first time this summer, and it was like a third round of the same cycle.Transitions are Hard Click To Tweet
I feel like I’ve reached a point in my job where I’m not only capable, but so many things are running on autopilot now. I’m able to anticipate what kind of questions my students will have, and head ’em off at the pass, so to speak.
(Teaching is mostly a battle, and getting college kids to write a well-reasoned, CONCISE paper is lot like executing a ancient Greek-style phalanx. You gotta have the metaphorical armed men and the spears to basically prod students into doing the assignment correctly. All’s fair in love and war. And education.)
But even so, the school year has a lot of wear and tear. And the schedule is brutal.
With the starts and stops of the normal academic calendar, I feel like this one scene in Beavis and Butthead Do America where they’re escaping the trunk of a moving car. They’re able to pry the trunk open, but Beavis is scared to jump out because “that road is moving pretty fast.” Butthead says it’s okay, and that Beavis should just run really fast when he hits the ground.
I’ve cued up the movie here for you if you’re one of those productive humans who doesn’t often find themselves quoting Beavis and Butthead and using it at a metaphor for life.
(Side note: Not that I mind you coming around, but like, if you AREN’T the type of person to use Beavis and Butthead as a metaphor for life, what the hell are you even doing here?)Beavis and Butthead: A Metaphor for Life Click To Tweet
The reason I bring all this up is twofold. Firstly, if you’ve never seen Beavis and Butthead Do America, you absolutely must. It’s a cinematic triumph. And secondly, I’m bringing this up because I FEEL LIKE I KEEP HAVING TO RUN REALLY HARD BECAUSE THE ROAD IS MOVING REALLY FAST WHEN I JUMP.
As I was saying, transitions are hard.
So, each semester, I change schedules. I go from grading EVERY PAPER EVER WRITTEN IN ALL THE HISTORY OF ACADEMIA (or so it feels) to posting grades and having so much free time. Because I need a break, I’ll take some time to just chill and slowly let my brain melt and dribble out of my ears while I watch Netflix. And before I know it, I haven’t used my time off for any of the productive things I intended to use it for, and I’ve already jumped into the cycle of powering through a new semester.
If I could power through the transition, this wouldn’t be a problem. But transitions are hard and I’m trying to avoid burnout. And because transitions are hard, I feel the need to make a small confession.
I’ve been misrepresenting myself a little lately. Sure, life is going well enough, and I’m happy, whatever that actually means. I’ve been keeping in contact with friends, and I’ve had some very good hangouts the past few months.
And I’ve been reading, slowly but surely. Some books move faster than others, and some books make me pause and think about my life, and sometimes that’s too much. But I’m reading still, which is something I have to do lest I go insane.
But here’s where I have to make a confession.
I haven’t been writing.
I have zero writing routine to speak of.
(Please don’t send me a link to one of those think pieces about how if you don’t write each day you should just get out of the game now. I AIN’T HERE FOR IT.)
Summer would be the ideal time to bash out a project — to outline a novel, or create new character ideas, or to formulate research questions for that Ph.D. I’m always threatening to get.
But here I am.
And so, if you thought I was hella good at productivity, know that I’m not. If my life were a car, it would be a primer-colored POS with a dents and dings and loud-as-hell muffler. Parts are held on with duct tape and zip ties, and no one is really sure what happened to the back bumper — that’s how long it’s been missing.
And what’s worse is that I’m in the trunk of said car as it barrels down the highway. I’ve just pried it open and I’ve got to jump. And I should be good at it by now because I’ve been jumping for the past two years.
Transitions are hard. And that road is moving really fast.
So I haven’t leveled up to writing daily.
Yet.Transitions are hard. And that road is moving really fast. Click To Tweet
And with that, I turn to you, readers. How do you keep up habits in the face of big transitions? How do you keep your schedule going when your work schedule changes about every 3 months? Have you ever jumped out of the trunk of a moving car?
Be kind to yourself, dear friend. You’ve been through a lot of changes and if you need to be fallow for a little bit, that’s ok. You’ll get back there because it’s what you do. XO
Thank you, Mari. I really need to remember that I’m not a machine, and I can’t be a little frog always hopping on to the next thing within a thought about what’s behind me.
I second Mari’s thoughts. Dude, you’re right at the beginning of a new season of life. Give yourself some grace. And drooly Netflix sessions.
Well, if you insist…
::huddles up in a pillow fort and watches everything in her Netflix queue::
Some seasons in life just don’t lend themselves to a daily writing routine. And that’s ok. I’ve come to the conclusions that writers write. Quitting just means we start again later. I have an interrupted week that means I can’t keep a writing schedule up very well, so…I don’t have any tips to offer. Go easy on yourself if you’re in one of those seasons.
Thank you, Ashley. I like what you say about us just starting up again. That’s a thing I need to keep in mind
I feel you, those big changes every few months can really rattle you. I also, had all sorts of good intentions of using the down time of summer to write. Alas, it did not happen. All I can say for advice is go for long walks. Taking Conan out for a long walk when I’m feeling like a dumpster on fire brings me back, even just a little.
Walking the dog is like magic. I don’t know how it works, but it really resets your brain.
Friend. I already warned you that I have lots to say about this. But as I finally sit to type out my comment, your car analogy is glowing neon, and I have to argue.
We are a classic car/ show car family, and I know at least a few things on this topic.
First, anyone with a car they care about is constantly fiddling with it. Sometimes in big, herculean efforts, other times by resting and researching, sitting with aesthetic inspiration or mulling over a mechanical problem with friends. It’s a long-suffering process, like anything else. And deeply satisfying that way.
Your life is NOT primer painted and held together with duct tape. When I see you I see a sleek black Karmann Ghia with sexy, secret red details and the most perfect black and white interior. Comfy seats, but trim and not ripped up, side view mirrors that aren’t cracked but that also are slightly askew so that really it’s best to be watching out the windows, anyway. I see loops of crystals and gleaming pearls hanging from the rear view mirror, a vintage afghan on the passenger seat for Rosie, and a stack of books plus one leather journal on the floor board.
Your life, as a car, has seen lots of romance and adventure, it has some miles on it but far from enough. A lifetime to go. The engine is strong and efficient and its tires know the road home for Sunday family dinner. There is room in your car for friends and even strangers, but you are always the driver and your insurance kicks ass.
No duct tape. One personalized tag that says something clever that only three or four people will get. The interior smells spicy and different, clean and exotic.
For the record, a bought a 1963 Comet not long ago and opted to keep the few rust spots, just sanded it and painted gloss over the rough parts. Imperfection is beautiful, right? And I think you are pushing yourself way too hard. For what it’s worth. xoxo
Also please read that book I sent over, ha!
I will definitely read that book! And you are the best, Marie. Seriously. Thank you for seeing good and beauty in me, because it’s so hard for me to remember it’s there.