I’m not entirely sure why – maybe the fact that I’m teaching double what I did last year and I’m still adjusting – but this semester’s been a bit rough, especially after not really taking any time off this summer either. I’ve been anxious and not sleeping all that well, and it’s felt like every spare minute has gone to grading and dealing with teaching-related tasks. And, with a number of other projects on the go and job applications to send in, I’ve barely taken any time off, which has exacerbated the anxiety and sleeplessness.
Happily, the end of the semester is almost here. There are less than two weeks of class, and because of the way I set things up, I finished off my last lecture this morning. There’s still a pile of grading to be done that’s just come in, but without the pressing need to teach, I took two whole days off in a row, plus an extra afternoon on Thursday (and possibly the rest of this afternoon, too). It was, in all truth, an incredible relief, and by the second day I felt better than I have in months, if not longer.
I did most of the usual things. I sat on the couch and read. I read some novels, but also some non-fiction on topics like food and farming. I went for a few walks, and enjoyed the newly fallen snow. I cooked some nicer-than-usual dinners, and ate a truly obscene amount of chèvre. I watched a movie and a documentary curled up under a blanket with some hot chocolate. I slept for a long time each night and woke up without worry and anxiety being the very first thing that I faced. I meditated and did yoga in the now-chilly air and sometimes I just sat and did nothing, content to just be quiet and still for a few moments.
Interestingly, being caught up on sleep and feeling much better about life in general also motivated me to do more around the apartment than I have in awhile, and to tackle some of the jobs that I’ve been putting off. I’ve cleaned the living room and the front hall, and put together a box of things to donate. I’ve done some dishes and started to tidy the kitchen, which is, shall we say, less than organized. I’ve brought in my worm composters from the patio and set them up inside, ready to go for another season. This morning, I finally processed the beets that I’ve been putting off, and they’re now sitting in the kitchen fermenting in their salty purple brine. This afternoon, I’m going to make homemade bread for the first time since this summer, and then I’m going to eat a huge slice of it with an equally large portion of butter. Heaven, I swear.
Despite the fact that this is still work of a kind, it feels wonderful. It’s hard to get motivated when there’s too many other things going on that have deadlines and expectations, but baking, preserving, cooking, and cleaning all make me feel infinitely better, and are things I seem to be enjoying more and more as time passes. At this point I know that I don’t want to go another three or four months feeling the way that I have been, and largely ignoring the things that make me feel good. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage all of this as an even heavier semester of teaching creeps up on me, but keeping a comfortable home that’s filled with good, healthy, homemade food is something that matters to me. This time, I want to put my money where my mouth is and be sure not to put it off until the end of the semester this time around.