Or, how I spent my five day summer vacation, written during the pouring rain.
It’s been a long time since I felt what the last day of summer felt like. When I was a kid, I loathed school, so much so that I ran away from Kindergarten and regularly played hooky from middle school to either hide in the woods or in the bathroom of my private school’s lower school building. In high school, I would go to the public library or to work at the record store (they never asked questions). Summer was the sweetest, most wonderful time of year. Not only did I have no school but I had my summer camp, where I had some of the best experiences of my life.
Nowadays, I love school. And, as I’ve said, I consider it a vacation from the real world, i.e. Monday through Friday, 9-5 work. The ability to stay up till the wee hours, get up late, handle the day exactly as I wish, and have no one to report to but myself has been like a dream. And well, at some point you have to wake up. I decided to stay in school another year partially because I couldn’t bear for that to end but in doing so, I knew that I’d need additional funding which meant work which means that in order to have that lifestyle, I have to not have that lifestyle. I know, it seems pointless. But there were other reasons I did it too, like getting more education and being better prepared for my new career. So here’s what this year will involve:
a. Part-time job, 3 days a week.
b. Fieldwork 1 day a week.
c. Special project 1 day a week.
d. Classes 2 evenings a week.
e. Thesis in any spare moment.
Yes, it’s going to be a challenge and the hardest part will certainly be the first one, which begins in a mere twelve hours (yikes). I am not good with bosses. I am terrible at doing things that other people tell me to do. Naturally, I did not bring this up in the interview. But I’m going to try my best because for a part-time job, it’s well-compensated. I know. I’m the first person ever to put up with a boss telling me what to do so I can pay my bills, right? But beyond that, I think I’m just going to miss my leisurely student life of getting up, puttering around making a hot breakfast, spending time playing on the Internet, reading for school in the quiet mid-afternoon, and then going off to class. Now I’ll have to fit those readings in when I can and go back to jumping out of bed via cranky alarm, scarfing something down, and running for the train, still half-asleep. I can hear you all playing tiny violins for me right now. I have a Facebook friend who works at a university and is off every summer. All summer long she posts about fun things she and her family are doing at their vacation home in the mountains. Then, in late August, she posts status messages whining about the end of her three-month vacation and I always roll my eyes. So I feel you if you’re rolling your eyes. But it’s been a lovely year, it really has.
Speaking of people complaining about lifestyles others envy, I’ve now had about five days without either school or work (kind of the vacation from my vacation) and finally had time to read the Agassi book (I’m not quite done… and I only have 12 hours left!). I remember when it came out last year there was lots of talk about the revelations: that he wore a hairpiece, that he never really loved Brooke Shields, that he used crystal meth and lied to the ATP about it. But for me, the biggest disillusionment was that he hated tennis. That was really hard for me to deal with. He says that he could never understand people who loved the beauty of the game. I suppose I am one of those people and watching the US Open series on TV these past few weeks has been wonderful. But now I kind of watch people play in a different way. Do they love the game as much as I do or did they feel it was the only thing they knew how to do?
It may be hard to believe, but I only became a tennis fan in the mid-90′s when my then-company gave me tickets to the US Open and I fell in love with both tennis and the story that a tournament is. The first match I ever saw Agassi play live is described in the book; it was during his comeback and the other player, Karol Kucera, was acting like a moron. I remember laughing when Agassi sarcastically reacted and in the book, Agassi mentions that the crowd laughed. This is just to tell you, hey, I’m in the Agassi book! But don’t get me wrong, it’s an amazing read and hard to put down. I suppose they’d frown on me reading at my desk at work, huh?
Also during my five days off from everything, I saw Tears For Fears. It was great to see a band I have loved for a long time and never experienced live, but the show failed my two criteria for excellent concerthood: decent view and good song selection. Being that it was at the Hammerstein Ballroom and I am not the tallest of women, I could occasionally glimpse bits of either member’s head but not often. Also, not enough from their two good albums and, naturally, no hint of my favorite song by them, since it wasn’t a hit. This is the sorry state of concerts today: other people hold up their cameras so that you can see even less and then you have to go to YouTube to watch shaky videos of the concert for which you paid.
Lastly, I got fingerprinted by the Department of Education, so that I could do my fieldwork, even though I don’t yet know if it will be in a public school. But my school makes you anyway, just in case. Everything you ever experienced with government bureaucracy (think of your last trip to the DMV) existed here: long lines, people who went on break just as they were about to take you, requirements sprung on you (duh, don’t you know that you get your school ID when you get fingerprinted and thus need your picture taken?) which lead to yet more lines with no one being taken, and lots of words spoken to you in a tone of voice which makes sure you understand that it is the thousandth time they have been spoken by that person this week. WelcometotheDOEpleasefollowthosearrowstooffice17takeanumberandsitdown.
Then I left and went to Ikea where I bought $40 worth of things I didn’t know I needed in the marketplace. Because once you’re at Borough Hall in Brooklyn, what else are you supposed to do? It was one of the last days I could just go to an office in the middle of the day and then go shopping. I will miss you, sweet unemployment.
Onward and upward.
Title comes from my second favorite Tears For Fears song, which they did, thankfully, play.
Tears For Fears – Pale Shelter