It’s a weird feeling to sit and try to reflect on this past summer and realize this is the third time I’ve done something like this. The first time, which was at the end of the summer when I started this blog, was pretty easy to characterize as it involved catching up on lots of science fiction movies and learning that I really enjoy putting energy into blogging (some days that’s easier to remember than others, particularly when I get in a funk about not feeling like I’m exploring anything new or worth anyone else’s time). Last year was mostly about resting after my first really challenging year at work (and coping with my disappointment that I was being reassigned to a different content area). It didn’t feel so focused, and the thing with my job was a big deal for a long time.
This year has been harder for me to parse. There have been some real high moments over the summer (getting to go to California to visit friends was an unambiguous high point), and there have been more than a few difficult times. While I was in California, I got word that my great aunt, who’d been dealing with leukemia for several years, had passed. That was a pretty sad occasion, as it marked for me the passage of a generation that was a staple of my childhood. She was one of five siblings who had been slowly dying for the past twenty years (the first was my grandmother, who passed in 1995; my mom and I took that one particularly hard). Of course, there’s a certain sense of rightness (it’s a weird word choice, I know) about the passing of someone who’s had a long life, especially when it comes at the end of a debilitating illness. You don’t get that in other cases. Back in early June, two of my cousin’s three children were killed in a car wreck. They were six and ten years old. I’m not terribly close to that branch of my family, so the impact it’s had on my own life has been minimal, but thinking on it has consistently brought to mind the incredible wrongness of something like this. It’s a familiar feeling.
I’ve written before about other occasions when students of mine have died unexpectedly. It’s an alarmingly common thing with the population that I work with, so I feel like I’ve grown accustomed to the feelings that come with this kind of news. It’s awful stuff, but it becomes manageable with practice.
Still, the news about my cousin’s children made me think about my students. While summer’s a very restful time for me, it’s not necessarily the same for them. I’ve been worrying on and off for the past few weeks about what kind of news I’ll get about my students, and at the same time I’ve found myself more and more looking forward to just seeing them. They’re a challenging bunch to work with, but I want to see them again and make sure they’re doing okay. Maybe once the school year gets under way my enthusiasm will ease off a little bit, but right now I’m feeling a generally positive buzz about going back to work.
Turning from sad things, I’ve really enjoyed having my downtime. I feel like I’ve caught up on a ton of media that I had been meaning to look at in the last year, and the summer break has been the perfect time to do that. It seems like it’s been more about television than movies this year, and I’ve begun to think that I need to revamp my blogging categories to reflect that (whenever I write about a particular show, I’m always at a loss as to where I’m going to file it in my archives). The big thing about catching up on so much TV lately is that I’m getting the impression that there’s a lot of really good stuff happening in TV compared to film. Maybe it’s just a recent preference for longer serialized stories (I’m trying to follow the goings on in current comics more closely, and I suspect there’s some resonance for me in the structural similarities of the two media). Also, and this isn’t related to the blog at all, I’ve been enjoying getting back in the groove of a regular running schedule. I’m not training with any particular goal in mind, but I’ve managed a steady enough habit that I feel good about going out to run, which is definitely not the case when I get out of the habit. I have some concerns that I’ll be able to maintain regular runs once I’m back at work (the only thing that makes running in Georgia in the summer bearable is being able to go first thing in the morning before the heat has fully set in; since the heat won’t go away until long after school’s under way, there’s a real possibility that I won’t be able to shift immediately to an afternoon running schedule and lose all the progress I’ve made while I wait for the season to change).
Finally, as is my habit, I’m probably going to be slowing down to posting three times a week once I start work. Summer’s a great time to do a bunch of blogging, but the five days a week schedule is really only feasible for me when I have the extra eight hours in my day that I have to set aside for work during the school year. At any rate, it’s been a summer, and for once I’m looking forward to seeing what the new academic year brings.