Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Poetry for Long Work Days: "Dinner Desires"

These are long days at work, but I don't mind--there's work to do during this first week of Winter quarter.  I get there in the morning to be ready to greet students who are arriving for their 9 a.m. classes.  I stay until the 6:00 classes start in the evening, to be sure that all is going smoothly.  In between, I'm doing all sorts of tasks to get ready for the accreditation site visit and to strengthen the school.

So, let's take yesterday as an example.  Some of my tasks were to read a document that will be submitted for a programmatic accreditation (different than the site visit), to create certificates for our recent faculty trainings, to talk about the best way to get graduate surveys returned to us, to answer questions here and there about potential new students, and to think about the classes we will offer at midquarter, and to create a timeline for how we'll get our site visit materials ready.

I like the variety, and I like that we're building a school that has answers to community needs, a school that might last.  So many schools are not in that position.  I wonder how many small, liberal arts colleges (a type of higher ed near and dear to my heart) will still be here at the end of the century or in 2050 (not that long away).

Still, I'm bleary-eyed when I get home. This week has put me in mind of a poem I wrote years ago, before I was an administrator, before I was on a first name basis with this kind of work schedule.  It appears here for the first time.

Dinner Desires

She has microwave popcorn for dinner again.
She works late, last in the office;
microwave popcorn seems at least a seminutritious
choice. She avoids what she really wants:
the chocolate candy on her supervisor’s desk,
the stale butter cookies left over from the Christmas
party, a hot meal served on china
plates, served by the light of candles.

She has microwave popcorn for dinner again.
She tries to make it seem special
with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
She sips seltzer, while trying
not to think of all the ways
she thought adulthood would be different.

She has microwave popcorn for dinner again
as workers across the city settle
in for their second full time jobs.
She thinks she should plan ahead, buy
those clever dinners that she once would have disdained
as airplane food. She has forsaken
all hope of getting her work done during normal
business hours, of being home
in time for dinner.

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