Today was my first day of classes but it doesn’t really feel like the first day of school the way last year or even Spring semester last year did. Part of that is because I handed in my last paper of the summer session about twenty days ago and the other part is that I’ve been working on campus for the last two weeks. The window of the office where I work overlooks the area where last year I tweeted pictures of Orientation. This year I watched it from above and I remembered the strangeness and the people I met and ate lunch with because I happened to be sitting next to them. I never saw any of them again.
Every time I walked from one office to another I passed lines of students waiting to be advised, or they were lost, walking three steps one way and then turning around. My school is incredibly confusing. It’s made up of six or seven buildings, all attached to each other, but seemingly unplanned and after the fact. Some paths between buildings land you between floors in other buildings. But I love all the buildings; they are old, from the nineteenth century, and look like a school of the period, with creaky wood-planked floors, vast high ceilings, and mahogany chair-rails. Today, I was in the elevator of the main building with several women who were clearly there for a workshop. They were much more nicely dressed than the students and were older. The conversation went like this:
Woman 1: But it’s so old and boring… the wood and everything…
Woman 2: What did you expect, marble?
Woman 1: [exasperated] Well, I don’t know… it’s [redacted institution]!
I redacted my school because the marketing is very good there and they search on it. I’d rather hide this blog from them, know what I mean? But it is the #1 or 2 school of its kind in the country, the gold standard. I guess we’re supposed to have marble. But of course, inside I laughed and laughed. The school is so beautiful and stately and noble. I bet that lady lives in a new-construction McMansion.
The building where I work has no elevator and I’m on the sixth floor. Soon I will have buns of steel. But I did wonder why this was. There are four secretaries in my department. Two are so unfriendly that I sometimes think my salary is being deducted from theirs. One of these seems to hate her job and the other just appears to not want to communicate with me specifically. One of the others is older and we discuss the weather. The fourth is new and hasn’t had time to realize she’s supposed to treat me like I am wallpaper. Ugly wallpaper. She has been there just a few months but she was the one who told me about the elevator.
Now, I have walked these stairs a million times in my year at my school. All around the wrought-iron hollow cage. I sometimes admire its beauty but it never, ever dawned on me that it’s exactly the right size for… an elevator. She showed me the closed up door areas and the vestigial push-buttons. I will take a picture of these for you at some point, both to reveal its mysterious coolness and to show you what a doofus I am for missing it all this time. Now I just get to wonder why they provided an elevatorectomy to the beautiful shaftway to the sky.
I never really noticed how dead it was all summer until I saw the students flooding the hallways today. I wanted to hug all of them. Until I had to wait on line behind them at the cafeteria. Stupid students. I also waited on line behind them to get my TB test, which I haven’t had since early grade school. It was a bit of an assembly line, sign form, stick out arm, etc. But you are required to do it to get cleared to student teach in a New York City public school, so as you can imagine, a lot of people in ed school need to have this done. But I was rewarded for this and the earlier fingerprinting with a letter of introduction from “It’s Redacted Institution!” to To Whom It May Concern. Here’s Becca, she won’t infect, or commit any felonious acts in, your school. Don’t mind the big bruise on her arm where an alleged “nurse” stuck her with TB syrum. But do check out those buns of steel.