I hate December. December is the Absurd Zone. December is when we wrap up classes, enroll students for the spring, prepare for winter break, have major cultural holidays and family obligations, and also wrap up a financial quarter. December is when academics break into tiny pieces.
In May, when the stresses hit, you know you have the summer to rebuild yourself. In December, we stare down the same stress points and recognize that there’s a light at the end of tunnel, for sure, but there’s still five months of trains coming before we get there. In December we know we’re going to make it… but only by embracing the absurd.
This week started with a toddler meltdown because overalls are CLEARLY torture, PARENTS, and the Tyrant Without Offswitch would like to know why we do not recognize this fact despite her 100 decibel shrieks informing us of it. Fine, kid, lie on the floor and scream while failing to remove overalls over your shoes. You do that. You still have to wear pants.
Then Monday proceeded into 11 hours of meetings. Eleven. Hours. Of. Meetings. The last one was a campus dinner, but it was professional conversation with students, colleagues, and the President and her wife. So… still a meeting. After 10 prior hours of meetings. I was grateful I wore leggings and a sweater dress, because that, at least, is sort of like pajamas. I can pretend I’m happy and comfortable if I’m wearing sort-of-pajamas. Then I went home and battled through bedtime with a super-restless toddler, then laid awake with an annoying hacking cough of undetermined origins, because of course.
At 8:05 this morning I woke up thinking “I just heard the kitchen door close, so that means Kyle went to work. OH SHIT IF KYLE WENT TO WORK I AM LATE”, because I had an 8:30 meeting on campus. Which I made it to about 3 minutes late, because I’m a goddamn superhero who can embrace the ludicrousness of a messy bun and good jewelry as a substitute for ACTUAL PREPARATION. Then three more hours of meetings, endless gratitude that the library cafe sells bananas and coffee, and… oh man, the email. I can’t with the email yet.
I’m typing this on my “lunch break” as an exercise in stress reduction because holy crap what the fuck, during which I’m listening to The Beatles “Blackbird” and trying not to obsess about the data requests I got yesterday which I’m getting texted reminders of today. Of the grant report due two months ago that I have not done, which needs to be followed up with another report in two weeks. Of the job descriptions that need to be posted ASAP and are not done. Of the all-faculty email I need to edit and send out ASAP. Of the Cuba Winterim travel course which keeps throwing up details to be dealt with. Of the four more hours of meetings on my calendar today. Of the list of un-registered students we need to cross-reference to our student employee roster to contribute to eleventh-hour retention efforts. Of the million other details which pile up because December.
Bob Dylan just shuffled up. “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” And I’m thinking about the four years straight that I’ve sworn up and down I would begin a lunchtime mindfulness meditation practice for myself. You know what I won’t be doing in December? Starting that. Maybe January.
Because January is coming. IT IS. January has a few weeks with no classes in session, and is on the upside of the darkest time of the year — past the solstice, and into the spring semester — and is a cultural touchstone for change and renewal. 2017 is coming, and until then… I’m going to embrace the absurd. These stresses are impossible to manage. I’m going to do it anyway, with liberal application of manatees and whatever else makes me smile. Because Everything Will Be Okay.