Friday, March 5, 2010

Well earned

Today was another interview day for candidates hoping to enter our program in the fall. Forty-eight high school seniors and their parents spent the whole day on campus, dodging the jackhammers, dump trucks, backhoes and cement mixers desperately pouring new sidewalks before the stimulus funds expire.

And as usual, I spent the whole afternoon with them, first giving a half-hour talk to which they responded in an on-site writing exercise, then engaging a few of them in discussion in two groups for an hour each.

It's an exhausting day, and I always feel afterwards like I deserve a vacation. That's fine with the interviews occur on a Friday, as the last two have.

But we always schedule one of the three designated days on a Monday, for students and parents for whom that's more convenient. The final day is March 15, a Monday. It's the day after I get back from a conference I have to help lead. So I'll be working that whole weekend, come home, do all the interview activities ... and then have a full work week ahead of me.

When that much uninterrupted responsibility faces me, I get all stoic. I can picture myself just powering through it, doing what I have to do, putting one foot in front of the other until the buzzer sounds and I'm finally on the other side.

And there's a wonderful other side: Spring Break starts just after that week. Not only that, but our friend Scott has finally renewed his annual pilgrimage from Chicago down to our home in the sticks for the opening weekend of the NCAA basketball tournament. The campus is even closed for two days during the break when I would normally be at work, meaning my vacation is enforced -- complete.

Getting there will be a challenge, and there won't be much downtime. But in a way, I thrive on the binge-and-purge cycle that academia becomes every so often. At the very least, it makes me feel I've earned my time off -- and helps me enjoy it to the fullest.

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