Wednesday, August 10, 2016

August anxiety

It's that time of the year when I feel like my life is about to end again. By that, I mean that once August hits, I become aware that summer is well more than halfway over. A few years ago a good friend of mine, who started as a school librarian but changed to a different area of librarianship a couple of years later, said that the problem with working in a school is that you end up living for the summer. The other ten months, in other words, are so taken up by work that, at least for someone like me who has the habit of postponing to begin with, nothing but work -- school and book selling -- got done during the year. On top of that there were the almost-but-never-got-there Plus 30 classes. Anything health care related, anything form-filling-out related, relaxation related, social life, etc got done during the summer. So, by habit, by this time of year, I am starting to get that panicky feeling that "living" for 2016 will be over in less than a month.

A couple of summers I was away until right before school -- five years ago on our Hungary-Holland-Israel-Hungary trip, and two years ago in the Pacific Northwest, but usually, I was back from whatever vacation I was taking by the end of July, and early in August, dread would start setting in. It wasn't the job so much as it was the knowledge that it would be another ten months before "life" set in again.

I always felt I wasn't allowed to complain about this state of mind. The average American gets two or three weeks per year, and in the Jewish community most people have to take most or all of their vacation days for the Jewish holidays. But most people I knew weren't working two jobs, and at the end of the day, or at least on the weekend, they had a spouse at home to talk to, to help with, to plan things with. I didn't. For the majority of teachers --those who work hard as opposed to those who game the system -- the school year gets so intense that a lot of them have to take sick days just to grade projects, do report cards and fill out the ever-increasing paperwork.

Having lived in Europe, I saw how wrong the American system was, with few opportunities for time off. I didn't buy into it and I still don't. I'm not interested in a race to the bottom, where you work and work for mediocre pay and benefits and you don't have time to focus on your kids or yourself and your life just goes by. I don't know what is going to happen to me, all I know is what I am going to try to do, but the downward spiral of American way of life is not acceptable to me. I feel the familiar knot of August anxiety tying me up, and I have to remind myself that this time, I am not going back to work in a school. I am doing something else.

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