I have 13 days left. I have 13 days left of this school year. It will mean that I have finished 17 years of teaching. Ouch. That makes me feel old. Seriously old. Like every year at this time, I feel like I’m barely holding on as I count down each and every hour, day, week. It isn’t that I hate my job even if this countdown makes me sound like that. There are many things I like about teaching but there is one thing I can’t stand. The time and stress it creates. I wish that I could adequately describe my day-to-day existence to convey the exhaustion I feel at the end of the day, week, month and year. I will say it this way. Imagine 10-12 hour days that are filled with non-stop activities, actions, decisions then the rest of the time is often spending grading, thinking about, planning, etc. even when away from the job. To say that it is intense would be an understatement. Now, I won’t lie. There is a part of me, probably a bigger part of me than I care to admit, that really likes the intensity, the all-consuming part of the job. In fact, I’m sure that I might give more of myself than many to allow the intensity. This personality quirk is probably why I also liked campaigning or even organizing and running Durandemonium, the convention we held in 2013. As much as I like this part of the job, I also hate it. I hate not having the time or energy to find out the latest in Duranland. I’m sure that there are many who question how big of a fan I am since I don’t talk much about them (personally, individually) on social media. I’m rarely the one who hears rumors or makes greater connections with other Duranies, between Rhonda and myself. It isn’t that I don’t care. It is just that it is hard for me to give more than what I do on the job. Of course, now that summer is coming, I will have more opportunity and chance to participate, which I’m greatly looking forward to.
As I pondered all of this, I started thinking about the band. (This, of course, is how I know that I really am still a big fan. I find myself thinking of them all the time and connecting things back to them.) I started thinking about their job and their long history. First, I thought about how their lives must be. I imagine promoting an album, either through TV appearances, interviews, etc. or touring to be much like the school year is for me, in terms of intensity. I suspect that promoting an album is all-consuming. There probably isn’t much time for them to think of anything else. I wonder if they are like me, in that, there is a part of them that likes the intensity, likes the all-consuming nature of promotion. Yet, I also wonder if they are also like me and my job, in that it can get very tiring. Then, I wonder if the times when the band is not in the studio, or touring or promoting like my summers. Do they use those times to do other projects not related to their jobs or do they use those times to make them better for when they are doing Duran Duran projects again?
Then, I wonder if they, at times, when they wish they had chosen a career with real balance. I know that I do. I know that my career has impacted and impacts so much of my life. It is hard to think of myself without thinking of the title: teacher. Is that the same with the band members? Do they struggle to think of themselves without thinking also of their title: rock star? Sometimes, I think about giving it up. Heck, many times, I do. The last five years haven’t been easy, career wise, which just adds to the stress of the job. Yet, here’s the thing. I’m good at what I do. I don’t really know why, but I believe that I am. Is it the self-sacrificing nature I have that I learned from my parents? I’m sure that’s part of it. Is it my ability to have empathy that allows me to work with kids and their families? Sure. I don’t think I’m a dummy, either, so that helps. Is it the fact that there is a part of me that likes the intensity, that chooses the intensity, that flourishes with the intensity? I’m sure. Do the band members have thoughts like this, too? Do they realize that they are good at what they do? Would it be hard for them to imagine really walking away because they are good at it and because it is not only what they do but WHO they are? The fan in me hopes so.
I have been watching my students a lot this past week. I have a number of kids who just come to hang out at lunch or after school. There are kids who come in to chat or to ask advice. I won’t lie. There have even been a few who have told me that I have to change what I’m teaching next year because they just can’t have another history teacher. They don’t want another history teacher. They want me. I’m it, for them. These statements, these kids fill my heart, for sure. They will always be a BIG reason why it would be hard to give it up. I know that I have created positive relationships with many kids and I’m hopeful that many more have learned something and have learned to like or love history. I wonder if Duran Duran looks at their fans in a similar way. Would we fans make it hard for them to ever walk away, too? I have to hope so, from a purely selfish point of view.
For now, I’ll push until the end of the school year. Then, maybe, I’ll have the time and the energy to watch as Duran shifts into a more intense period of their careers. I’ll pass the intensity baton to them.