Ask anyone in my house lately: I have been grumpy. It doesn't help that all my plans of hiking and running great distances without a ticking clock have been sidelined due to a painful double whammy of plantar fasciitis. But I don’t think the foot pain and immobility can totally make up for the overwhelming sense of irritability I have been feeling the past couple of weeks. Everything gets under my skin, and I haven’t written here or for my newspaper article because I’m not one who can fake it well, and so I have been worried I would write something that I might later regret.
But this week I started teaching at writing camp. And this morning, sitting with six girls who have sanctioned off this time to be with me and my co-teacher, Heidi, because they love to write, we began to talk about books we are currently reading and started this fantastical conversation about what characters we would be if we could be anybody in literature (I waffled between Isabel Archer and Hermione Granger, but finally decided I have more in common with Hermione). Our conversation became lively and I felt myself relax into what is comfortable as we discussed settings, character attributes, and literary techniques used by authors.
Later on in the day, I saw a student of mine who enthusiastically told me about a powerful book she just read about September 11; we discussed the pros and cons of Kindles; and then she let me know that the business letter she wrote in class for me that accompanied a torn Northface jacket was just answered—with a BRAND NEW jacket enclosed! Her face was aglow and I felt happy and involved with the conversation—not irritated.
And then I realized—sometimes it’s right in front of our faces. When we are deprived of what we love, we become cranky people. And I love teaching and learning. Three summers ago I was a liaison between a restaurant and a community organization as I taught teenagers business strategies. Two summers ago I worked with the Pakistani Institute at Plymouth State University. Last summer I worked with the Plymouth Writing Project at the University. I was actively and routinely engaged with educational conversations that made me think deep about what I do and why I do it. This summer, so far, I have read a bit, taken small hikes as my feet heel, and done a lot of sitting and complaining silently in my head. No wonder I’m irritable! I had, in fact, planned this summer to be low key and relaxing due to the hectic nature of the past school year, and while I have loved the time with my family, I think I went from one extreme to the next—this has been too much down time and too little educational involvement.
One of my goals for the summer was to write a book proposal, and the beginning stages of a first draft sits on my desktop taunting me every day as I check email. When a friend asked me if I’d gotten any further on it and I told him about my summer malaise, he said, “Angie—it’s plantar fasciitis, not cancer.” Point taken. So. Two weeks of writing camp stretch ahead of me and I plan to use every ounce of youthful energy these passionate writers share to remind myself of what I love to do. Early morning writing sessions are planned. And someday soon, I will run again… In the meantime, it is summer, and it’s time to enjoy it!