Taking pictures on camera on way back to office before getting lunch from campus caf’. Agenda item 1… Should’ve cancelled classes, the whole week. Why didn’t I. Students that walk in not wanting to be here. Nor do I. Huh, a commonality. How I’m going to get through class I don’t know. Still have poems to finish, that I want to bind and finally sell. I have everything I need to get ahead financially, but why am I keeping a foot on my goddamn neck? Need a vacation. So many have already gone on theirs, for Thanksgiving. Why am I here? What the hell am I doing here? Should have cancelled class. I still can.
So I freewrite with them for 5 minutes. I can tell their heads aren’t there in that chair, not here in the room with me, each other. What are we doing here? Just keep writing. My brain isn’t here, either. Want to be out there taking pictures of the trees around campus, of the echoing hallway in this building, which I’ve done before but I see something new in it every time I walk up those stairs. I should be out there, living, we all should, not in a classroom. Not today, not this week. Student walks in late. I’m annoyed and I think he feeds off me being annoyed so I try not to seem so annoyed. But I am. Gall of some of these students, I just don’t get it. And not just at him, at the day, the clock, the now-quiet in this room. Force myself to write, look like a teacher up here at the front of the room, all alone, feel like a target, maybe I am. Need more coffee I think. Forget lunch. What would eating do. I’m so unprepared today— seriously, what am I doing here? What the hell am I doing at the head of this classroom? Relax, take a breath. Think about the walk back to your office. Pictures wait for you. Picture the Fall, outside, now and when you’re walking. Fall, its setting and scene and palette. But now, write, write, then what. I have to teach. Teach them how to do what. Still working on that.
In office with burger, fries, 7UP. Quiet. Barely survived English 100. Now for 1A. Joy. Not really. Not sure if the sarcasm made it through those words, but anyway I’m here. As I settled into this office room, or even before when I brandished keys to open door I was approached by one of the full-timers, having with her a large foldable card, signed by faculty for the department admin, to thank her in the tenor of Thanksgiving. The full-timer followed me into the room and unfolded the sizable card. She handed me a pen, saying, “Okay, I’m going to get totally control-freak on you… could you sign right here?” she said, placing the black Sharpie off to the right, pointing at a small plot of space surrounded by signatures. “Sure,” I said, simply writing ‘Thank you…’, the admin’s last name, then my name. “Sorry,” I said, “ I would write more but there’s not a lot of room there.”
“It doesn’t matter,” she said.
Interesting word choice, I thought. ‘It’ doesn’t matter, or I as an adjunct signing this card don’t matter. And if it doesn’t matter, why did you have me sign it at all? Probably just my mood putting that interpretation on the thought slab but that’s where my head went. Couldn’t wait for her to leave so I could type what I scribbled earlier, eat my lunch, have quiet. Quiet, something I so madly need after that class and after the day so far, wholly. While eating lunch I start to feel lazy and viciously unmotivated to do anything at all. Nothing. Goddamnit, should have called in sick today, or at least cancelled the classes ahead of time. Quiet in here like it is outside, what the writer needs. Took picture of the lawn stretching toward Mendocino Avenue, usually with students on it in small groups even if it’s slightly cool like today but nothing. Everyone was smart with the beginning of their week but me. Doesn’t matter, like my signature on that card. I’m here and this is what I have to work with. So, I elect not work. Or better, I should be like one of the many. And just leave.
Item 2… be better prepared for 1A. Start with ‘Identity’ in the text we’re reading, Beloved by Toni Morrison. One of the more interesting and antagonistic books I’ve ever “taught”. But, not in the mood still. Especially after lunch. Knew I shouldn’t have had a burger. But it sounded so good. “Goddamnit, Mike, where is your discipline? Don’t you want to be one of those writers known for their discipline?” Of course I do. “Well, then, smarten the hell up!” I have to, I know. So I take everything off this desk here in the adjunct office, which is is no way mine as you know if you’ve read anything I’ve written about this small room, tomb. Never mind that. How do I get ready for next class, beyond just the word ‘identity’? How about just talk to them? Huh… Yeah, maybe.
Should’ve listened to myself when I wrote “Forget lunch.” ‘Cause now, I’m slow. I’m a wreck. This is probably just as painful to read as it is for me to write, lazy’s I am. Adjunct Instructor between classes, rubbing his face and grunting, needing another walk. Not with camera, though. Just a walk. Walking, doing nothing but walking and observing. Maybe get a sparkling water and some gum from the bookstore. Or will that just remind me that so many people have already left for their Thanksgiving? Will it remind me of what I should have done, said adios to the week, which would’ve let me be home right now, able to maybe take a nap and enjoy some more quiet? I have a feeling I’m going to even more dislike the outside quiet.
Item 3, end this piece. End the negativity about you. Go for another walk, don’t worry about what you should’ve done, just focus on what you can now do. Go for a walk, enjoy the colors, Fall, your setting and your new identity this Monday. Water sounds delightful right now as does some gum, a slow walk to that bookstore. 1A, whatever happens, happens. Already fantasizing about bed, sleeping. Need a vacation, and to somewhere distant. I mentioned going to Carmel, yesterday to my wife. Sometime soon. She said that sounded great. “Great,” I thought, “how about today?” Wishes, wishes. Just wishes from this adjunct in his not-at-all-his office. Should I cancel 1A? I could go into the admin’s office, and just tell her to post it, right?