Ahhh. There's nothing like waking up in the morning by the sounds of three alarm clocks. I slowly opened my eyes and fumbled for each one, feeling calmer with each button I found to turn them off. Alarm clocks scare me. They always do. And if their alarms don't frighten me, I end up sleeping through them. Alas, that is why I must keep giving myself heart attacks when I need to wake up at a certain time.
My trusty cell phone is always the first to off. It's pretty scary because it vibrates at the same time, so it makes really loud buzzing noises when it skitters across the side table. The last thing I do is force myself to sit up and touch my lamp three times - tap, tap, tap - to turn it on to it's brightest lights. It's a terribly old touch lamp, but I love it because I feel like a magician when I turn it on and off.
These actions have turned into almost a set of loose rituals because without them, I'd probably just flop back onto my pillow, pull the covers up to my chin, and indulge in a little more shut eye - which can't happen, since I have to go to school.
It's a pretty word, isn't it? There's something very soft about the c and the o sounds. But it carries such weight with its meaning. Who else had to get up early for school in these past few days? Okay. And then I ask: who has to get up before the sun rises?
It's funny to think that, because of the time changes, the sky is so dark in the mornings now. If I leave for school at just the right time, I drive mostly in darkness and watch the colors slowly light the sky with through the hazy lens of my windshield. The stars wave "Good Morning," and pack their glittering lights for another part of the Earth, for another planet that watches their beauty while we go to work or walk our dogs. The moon turns spidery silver and high-fives the sun. Another day and another night accomplished.
I leave early because I teach early, and I teach early because I like to be done with it. As hard as it is to wake up, I believe it is harder to troll around for a near impossible parking space and then worry about making it to the classroom in time. I'd rather rub my eyes and yawn while presenting a PowerPoint. The long days crawl by in my cubicle and my legs, unused to staying in the same attitude (they just don't remember last semester), turn to legs of pins and needles. I tap my feet so fast that even Sonic would be jealous. But when night comes again I'm in another classroom - this time as the student - whispering secrets about writing craft, and, for this semester, studying the most delicate and archaic forms of romantic comedy storytelling.
Yesterday I turned the key and opened the door to the large room full of orange cubicles (we affectionately call it the Pumpkin Patch) and stumbled past the old couch to turn on the lights. In the back, near the corner, I peeked into my own private scholarly haven for the first time since winter break began. The scraps of poems and story excepts pinned to the walls still hung next to posters of faraway landscapes and a rather large Tangled poster I had put up behind my old computer. That poster, as pretty as it is, caused me a lot of pain in my knees and hands from balancing on the table to get it successfully tacked up. Totally worth it. And, lastly, the blow-up doll of The Scream, the painting by Evard Munch, still gaped its mouth next to the computer. My home away from home. My den. I dropped my bags into the table space and plopped into the chair. I rocked back, stared at the ceiling. Another semester.
I thought about how I'll probably get antsy and need to walk up and down the stairs a few times to check my mailbox - not because there is anything in there, but because I don't know how else I'll get exercise. I imagined all the trips I'll be taking to the library, right next door to my building, and how I'll show off the treasures but never get to them under the piles of red inked papers. The last and most important thing I thought of was how I'll be continuing to write.
I can't yet see where and when new stories will come to me this semester, but I'm excited and waiting for them. To the stories I've already been writing: I'll finish you all. Some faster than others. And to others more, who might still be collecting dust until the time comes to unearth them, I will one day yet add those bows and sparkles to you.
I wish you all, who are still in school, no matter what form, a very happy and productive semester. Let's do this!