11/18/2011

Piles and Piles to go Before I Sleep

Such is the life of an English teacher--not miles and miles to go before I sleep, but piles and piles to go. Each day I tackle the magically reappearing stacks, find stray essays tucked into bags, find the bags themselves multiplying.

I have bins and bins of papers from previous years that also seem to magically multiply. Extra copies of worksheets and readings are crammed into bookcases and on the floor in piles. Old syllabi linger, showing the evolution of courses taught year after year, and psychology tests are stuffed in desk drawers as I tinker with the tests, working to make them better each time, but ready to be pulled out and put back to use at a moment's notice.

I've been immersed this semester in my classes, my students, their work, and trying to find just the right balance of assignments to help them master critical skills while still leaving me with time to sleep and breathe. When I haven't been invested in the classes, I've been fundraising with students for free mammograms for women in need, for the American Cancer Society, for the local food  bank, for Autism Speaks. I've spent hours each week visiting hospice patients or making bereavement calls. I've spent the rest of my time with my kids, trying to help them navigate an increasingly complex world that makes ever greater demands on them that often highlight their weak areas rather than their areas of strength. And somehow, I've even found time to read the first four Stephanie Plum novels by Janet Evanovich, too. Even paid attention to my husband, had lunch with friends. It's been a productive (and painful, klutzy) semester.

All of this has meant that my time for reading blogs and news stories relating to autism have been severely limited, as has been my writing time. I think this is a good thing, all in all, given the rancor and  divides that exist within the online autism community. As Bobby says, too much drama.

Too much drama.

Our real lives are surely full of enough drama. I decided awhile back that the Age of Autism and vitriolic anti-vaccine contingent was interested in distracting themselves from their real-life drama with online drama. And maybe I was, too. Dealing with online drama lets you distance yourself from the real world drama taking place.

Some people play solitaire or mahjong or Sims. Some play even more aggressive games, like shooters. Some people read trashy novels. Some watch reality tv. We all do what we can to distract ourselves, transport ourselves outside of our lives, whether they be good lives, or difficult lives. We all need a break, a chance to see something outside our lives.

It's easy to vent anger into the internet and take it out on strangers. Easy to sit in front of a computer screen and feel smug self-righteousness as our fingers pound the keyboard. So easy and it has the cheap thrill of a whirlwind shopping trip at a dollar store--you get a lot of crap for your money (time), but it's still crap.

Too much drama.

I don't miss it. And I hope my children choose to fill their lives with meaningful activities in the real world that give them what they need for self-validation. Dipping their toes in, reaching out to connect in positive ways to create a mutually supportive online community, that's all good. The drama, not so much. I will teach them to avoid unnecessary drama and cheap thrills.

Although...I wonder, would virtual drama distract me from all those piles that keep growing?


3 comments:

Me said...

Yep.

farmwifetwo said...

Hey!!! What's wrong with trashy novels :)

I find online is the same old whines but the same old people who haven't figured out how to move forward. Doesn't matter if they think autism is wonderful or horrible.

Never changes.

kathleen said...

hee hee...yup. :) Sorry about the "piles"...kind of funny that you have "piles of paper"..and another word for "piles" is hemorrhoids!! It can all be a pain in the butt sometimes...:)