I took a mental health day today. I realized when I woke up that a lot of the angst and frustration I carried home and to bed last night had stayed with me. The death of my beloved iPod* sort of sealed the deal for me, and I stayed at home and in bed most of the day. I did absolutely nothing of value – I read web comics, surfed the ‘net, poked around things I’ve been meaning to look into, read some of a novel I had to put down at the beginning of the quarter, cuddled my cats. I didn’t even sign on to any ‘net chat clients. Just me, my cats, and a cocoon.
The one thing I did do is contact Kanna to tell her I’d be a little longer in turning in the syllabus and course outline I’ve been working on, and why. I sort of jokingly commented that it was to prevent the ripping off of pretty and smart heads, which wouldn’t be nearly so pretty or smart if decapitated from their bodies. Because Kanna is one of the most awesome people I know, we actually started talking about it, and I was able to really pin down just what’s been bothering me.
I put a lot into PFing. I wouldn’t say that I take my roll as any sort of instructor seriously (because, come on, when you get down to it, I’m just being punished for my own contempt for authority), but I do take my roll as someone to be there and help very seriously. But I am more than that roll (regardless of if it’s seen as PF, instructor, sympathetic ear) – I have interests, passions, things I like to talk about outside of 390 papers and classroom power dynamics. I’m getting kind of tired of my free time, downtime, when I should be relaxing and having fun with colleagues, turned into perpetual office hours.
I will be the first to admit that when a student tells me how much they appreciate whatever it is I’ve done, I will glow for hours, if not days. It completely and utterly motivates me, and is certainly part of the reason I walk this path. But, if someone is indifferent, or even hostile, I don’t much care. Sure, I stop and wonder and try to figure it out, but it’s not like I’m going to sit in the corner with a bottle of whiskey and a razor. What gets under my skin, what really, really irritates me, are the people who don’t see me as anything other than a perpetual resource. Who ask “why? We can talk about it right now” when I suggest meeting up some time to talk about 390, rather than doing it at happy hour/on my lunch break/while I’m trying to do other homework. People who just seem to demand and demand, without that corresponding gratitude or thanks.
As Kanna so succinctly put it, I am more than my job.
I’m still not entirely certain how to set up the boundary so that this is clear. I don’t want to be a 9-5 teacher, but I do want my rest and relaxation with friends, as well. No, no. I do know how to set up that boundary. I simply need to say what I just did here – I need to simply, clearly explain (with perhaps a bit less “YOU SUCK GAH GAH” thrown in) what I just said: that I am more than 390PF, and that while I’d be more than happy to sit down and discuss whatever, I’d like to have it scheduled so that I can spend the current moment unwinding with everyone else.
Of course, the amusing thing is that I realize I am very guilty of being on the other side of this line. Another lesson very, very painfully learned.
*Apple gave me a new iPod, so all is well. I’m just having to recreate all my custom playlists, which is a pain in the ass. And there’s still this weird sense of loss – that iPod is not Ãllati SzÃ©n. Ãllati SzÃ©n is dead, as dead as a piece of machinery gets; like most Mac users, I personalize and get rather attached to my hardware. SzenvedÃ©ly, the new iPod, is very nice and I’m certain will make me very happy, but it’s still a strange sort of loss.