Monday, May 12, 2014

After all the pomp and circumstance

This is how summer starts: on the back deck with a glass of iced tea, a light breeze rustling through the leaves, and the sounds of birds filling the air. Earlier I heard a Carolina wren out here and off in the distance I hear a peewee--and there's one of the resident orioles! I found their nest the other day but it's too high up for a good photo.

What you won't hear out here is "Pomp and Circumstance," a tune I heard umpteen million times yesterday while leading students, faculty, and various Grand Poohbahs to their seats for Commencement. I spent a little too much time on my feet in shoes I wear only with academic regalia, which is not often enough to make them feel comfortable. Today I'm a little stiff, a little sore, a little empty-headed, but my feet are happy again.

I've now surrendered my Interim Faculty Marshal mace and I'm ready (eager!) to take my place back in the ranks. Commencement came off without a hitch--well, with several hitches, actually, but we worked around them. A student marshal injured her knee and had to back out at the last minute--but not before finding a worthy substitute. My faculty ID slipped out of my bag and disappeared amongst the throngs--but it turned up again within the hour. And just when I thought we were out of the woods, we led the academic procession out the door at the end of the ceremony and prepared to form faculty into two lines for the graduates to walk through, only to find an ambulance blocking the way. (Somebody fell. Nothing fatal.) So I made an executive decision: let's go the other way. (That's why they pay me the big bucks! Except there's no compensation provided for marshals, so I guess that's why they give me the big mace.)

I spent some time hugging my students, meeting their parents, and sending them happily on their way, and then I came home to soak my feet and dig into the box of exquisite chocolates a student gave me. Commencement was the final item on my "Things to Do before Summer Break" list, so now it's time to start on my next list:  "Things to Do before Fall Classes Begin." It's a long list, but it requires no maces, no fancy footwear, no pomp at all, and very little circumstance.

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