Professor Heather's Wild Ride

So, it all happened rather suddenly, and in these last few weeks it sometimes feels like I have been swept up along in a raging current as my career takes off almost without me! 
I am now, as of last Tuesday, a college English teacher. I am teaching two courses this semester, one is English 51: Developmental Writing, and the other is English 300: College Composition.

This all came about in December, when I chanced to run into one of my past professors at Raley's, our local grocery store, which is where I see everyone, so of course. She and I always had a great rapport, and we got to chatting. She said something like, "I heard you got your Master's degree?" I answered affirmatively, although probably blushing and noting it was some years back. (I was wrangling two very excitable, tired, hungry toddlers throughout this whole conversation.) She asked if I had any teaching experience, and I told her about the courses for which I interned (again, that was in Fall 2008). She gave me her email address and said to get in touch with her right away if I was interested in teaching. And the rest, dear reader, is history.

After we had come to some preliminary agreements (nothing would be official for quite some time, in fact my head is still spinning and I'm crossing my fingers that I'm officially official even now!) I processed the idea for a couple weeks, which happened to fall right during the holidays. I had started the application process, ordered my transcripts, crept up into the attic to go through old papers and for the first time in years, think about my academic persona. I took a break from all that though, from a few days before Christmas until after New Years. In that time I had dreams, worries, flutters of excitement. I worried about spending less time with the girls, being away from home, childcare, driving in my car a lot. I wished it was happening next year, after Polly turned three, rather than right now, just when she turned two. Then I realized that the timing was perfect, actually, that this is the time in a mother's life when she starts to become more herSELF again, when the sparks of old creativities reawaken, when tides and currents shift. I mean, that happened periodically all through my babies' first two years as well, but after age two I feel an opening, an expansiveness to the world, social concerns, others outside my close little family. They are still my world though, and I think nothing will ever change that. It's just the kind of person I am, but I am also large; I contain multitudes.

So I spent the week of 10-16 getting prepared. On the 13th I found out that the classes I had been offered were changing slightly, a change that would ultimately make things a lot better for me. I would not have to travel to Folsom Lake College main campus, but would be teaching both courses up at our El Dorado Center here in Placerville. One would be an evening class, instead of two day classes, which eased childcare greatly since Darin would be home. Basically I had four days to plan and write my syllabi.

And then I got sick. Terribly, wretchedly, totally abnormally sick. I think it was the flu, and it laid me low for five excruciating days; I could hardly move. Luckily, one of those days I felt better enough and my fever subsided enough to basically compose both syllabi in their entirety and get them ready for printing Tuesday morning. On my first day of teaching, Tuesday the 19th, my fever was still raging. I was exhausted again and could barely rise from the couch to change Polly's diaper or get the girls something to eat. I called Darin and made him come home early, and then I went to the Emergency room since my doctor could not see me. It was crazy. I spent the last three hours before my first night of class in the E.R. They gave me a chest x-ray and sent me home with a prescription for cough syrup. But during my wait at our brand new, comfortable and clean Emergency room, I brought my books, and I had my own little waiting room that was warm and quiet, and I kept drifting off to the comforting sound of nurse's voices. The practitioner was professional, humorous, understanding and respectful. Even though not much got accomplished, I felt oddly better afterwards, and I put on my rainboots, kept on my flowing frumpy dress and my glasses and no make up, and went to teach my very first night of class ever. It is an afternoon and evening I will never forget.

All through these first two weeks of class, I've still been sick. I finally found out that I got a secondary infection in my sinuses after the flue and that's been keeping me somewhat miserable. I have been able to teach classes, and even lead...dare-I-say...rousing discussions, without a hitch. But at home I've been fatigued, congested, sore, and head-achey. I have never had sinus issues, so most shocking to me was the constant pressure and ache in my cheekbones, jaw, and teeth. WHAT?! I will never, ever discount or brush off the words "sinus infection" again. I never knew what they were, I really didn't. And now I do, and I'm more well rounded for it, and I'm on antibiotics that are finally, graciously lifting this terrible fog that's been clouding me.

Two nights ago I ate ice cream for the first time in weeks. I made homemade pizza yesterday for dinner, another first in weeks. And best of all, this morning I did my first treadmill run since January 9. I only ran 2.75 miles but I felt great and I can tell I'm going to be back at it no time. (I still owe this blog a post about my newfound love of running.)

It's been a wild ride this month, friends. I am having fun with my new job, and I know I'm going to love it despite my rocky start. I am just so grateful for my normal energy and health that I hope I never take for granted again, and that I'll now be able to fully apply to my work and these students (I can tell already that I love them). Here's to new beginnings, indeed! 



Anonymous said…
WOW! congratulations! Sounds like a fun new path in your life. I wish you well! (I know that horrible sinus infection all to well,myself)
Anonymous said…
Isn't it great how sometimes everything just comes together without much planning, searching and work? Congrats on your new job, it sounds like a great fit! And I am sure with all your normal energy back, you will offer the students a great study experience!

Adah said…
Congratulations! That's wonderful, and you are clearly doing something that you'll love. Not just because you said so, but the tone you have as you recount such a miserably sick start is so darn cheerful! So cool. (I've been following your blog for a while now. I tend to lurk, but this is so exciting I had the speak up!)
Rachel Weaver said…
You DO contain multitudes. Those students are so lucky to have you. I'm actually having a pang of jealousy because I really do love teaching, even if this might not be the right time for me to be in front of a class. Teaching English is the best. You get to discuss it all. I love it so much. I'm excited to read about your adventure.
Lena said…
Wow congratulations Heather! What a fantastic surprise! I'm reading this in the middle of the night when my two plus year old is nursing more than usual and keeping me up, wondering when and how my anxiety will diminish enough to spend more time apart or become myself again in other ways. I'm so inspired by you!
Tina Dawn said…
I am thrilled for you, it sounds like a perfect fit! I hope you will still find some time to blog once in a while. Love Tina
Anonymous said…
What lucky, lucky students you have! And what a true teacher you are, working while ill for your students! Wishing you nothing but the very best of health and happiness along this exciting pathway.
Jessica said…
Wow Heather!! What amazing news for you and your family!! Sounds like fate! I know you will do amazingly well and your students are lucky to have you! What a crazy way to start! Us teachers, we can teach through anything! haha! I hope you are feeling better...sending you lots of positive vibes!
Alicia P. said…
Agh, that is INTENSE, Heather! My shoulders were rising just reading this -- I can totally imagine. Teaching is epic -- I only did it for two years as a graduate student, teaching freshman writing and creative writing to undergrads -- but I still remember the adrenaline I had almost every single day (and I wasn't much older than my students then, so it was kind of crazy). Anyway, you are on such a ride right now -- wishing you smooth transitions for everyone and a few peaceful moments every day, just to take it all in. (Been battling the coughs here, too -- blah.)
The Brittons said…
Glad you're on the mend! Cheers to having a career you love!

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