Weekly Check In – 10/20/2021

One hundred and eighteen weeks out from surgery, and here are the numbers I care about:

  • Weight: 242

Up a pound, and the back and forth continues, but I’m honestly having a hard time giving a shit. Which shouldn’t be mistaken for depression or indifference, I’m just super busy and happy to be maintaining, even if it means I’m making zero progress toward a goal I still have. What’s going on with me?

I’m grading midterm essays, which is going slower than I’d like, but I’m refusing to grade more than 10-15 a day due to the whole sciatica thing I mentioned last time I wrote one of these. All of the grading is taking place on my laptop in bed because sitting in a chair like an adult hurts like fuck after about three minutes. And then there are days like today where I just couldn’t be bothered. Honestly a day off is a good thing here and there, and it’s easy to forget that when you’re a teacher (or in any profession where you’re not going in to your place of work on a regular schedule).

The sciatica thing is definitely improving, but it’s a drag. I tried going to the gym yesterday for the first time in two weeks and didn’t last three minutes on the bike. I took the dog for a walk later that morning just to get some kind of exercise, because I’ve definitely noticed it’s better for my overall frame of mind. I have another appointment with my chiropractor on Tuesday and I’m hoping that will help the pain to fuck off for a while.

Teaching is about five different things going on at the same time. Grading is obvious, but prepping for the on-campus class is another thing (and I love it, but it does eat up a bit of time). Then there’s letters of recommendation. There’s more to say about those than I feel like going into here and now, but I get those done when I can. Then there’s all the free counseling services I provide to my students, even though I have zero fucking training.

I think before the semester started, pretty much everyone was at their wit’s end. Like right at capacity for all the crap life sometimes slings your way. Then the semester started, and it’s really hard to be a college student, especially if you’re 18-25, especially if you’re struggling financially (which is nearly 100% of my students at all four schools), especially if you’re trying to juggle whatever else (dating / parenting / family obligations / work / blah blah blah). And everything was fine at first.

And then jobs started demanding more of my students because of the “labor shortage” (we all recognize this term as utter bullshit right?) and parents started demanding more of my students because grandpa was sick, and girlfriends and boyfriends started dumping people, and children got sick, and here I am, again, with zero fucking training, spending time with students who are smack in the middle of a major emotional crisis. Six of them at last count. Have I mentioned I have zero training to deal with this? So I do exactly what I did when I was in my 20s, spending nearly every day at the Black Watch Pub: I listen, and I say, “that sucks” a lot. And I don’t drink obviously (not until I’m tenured anyway, HAHAHAHAHAHA). Anyway.

And I’m not alone in this. I’ve spoken with three other college teachers who’ve all reported similar circumstances. Life is hard for those of us who aren’t Bill-Gates rich right now, and finding the correct ratio of empathy and holding students accountable for getting their work done is a




And I still love it and it’s still the best job I’ve ever had, but it’s a LOT right now. Thank God I turned down that sixth class.

And then, earlier today this happened:

This is just an advanced copy, it’s not for sale yet, but I’m impossibly happy to have held my first book of poetry in my hands! Mark and Dennis, my publishers, have done an incredible job of putting this book together. Their attention to detail in every step of designing the book has been inspiring to watch. They’re two of the most supportive and creative people I’ve encountered (anywhere, ever) and I happily add working with them on this project to the incredibly long list of reasons why I’m the luckiest person alive. And if that sounds like hyperbole, well, I’m a fucking poet, get off my fucking back. There’s a book trailer coming out next week that I can’t wait to share with people.

Three things I’m grateful for (in no particular order):

  • My book.
  • My publishers.
  • My life.

I’m good this week. Full stop.

Here, have a graphic: