It's the kind of day when people burst into the building shaking out their umbrellas and smoothing down their hair. High winds blew me all over the road this morning and I saw signs that tree limbs had already been removed from the road. The briefest foray out-of-doors results in rambunctious hair, so staying inside and grading seems like a good plan.
Students have papers due in the American Lit Survey this morning so naturally I'm fielding requests for extensions. I'm happy to give students until the end of the day if they think it will help, but I can't give longer extensions without a persuasive excuse because I need to grade these papers before midterm grades are due, which raises the question: how did we get to midterm so quickly?
They say time seems to speed up as we age and I can attest that it's true. Has it really been 20 years since we bought our house, 15 since our daughter got married, 10 since the birth of our first grandchild? Impossible! Two more years feels like a long time but when I look at how swiftly this semester is passing and how much I want to squeeze into the next four semesters of teaching, I fear that retirement will arrive before I'm ready.
And of course the recent campus cuts have resulted in frantic revisions to the General Education curriculum and the English major, which will affect what I'm able to do in these next two years. The Gen Ed revision means I'll never again teach two courses I took great care to design, losses that don't exactly break my heart. But I'm only slowly coming to learn what the changes to the English major will mean, and I wonder how many of my beloved courses I've taught for the last time without realizing it.
Next fall looks good, though, and my approaching retirement gives me an excuse to opt out of some heavy lifting. Yes, we'll need to appoint a task force to do a full overhaul of our General Education curriculum, but I don't intend to help design a curriculum that I won't be present to teach. Besides, I've already reached my career quota of new General Education curricula, and anyway, in ten years all our students will be Online Influencing majors taking courses taught by Artificial Intelligence, areas in which my expertise is hardly relevant.
And so I plod on, shaking out my umbrella and smoothing down my hair and responding to student emails demanding extensions. I'd like to request an extension on life, please, and make it ASAP. There's no time like the present to grapple with a diminishing future.