Monday, August 25, 2008

It's my lucky day 

What are the two first words you say to your new class of students the first day?

"Thank you."

I was at a party earlier tonight as my sister-in-law and her husband send a son off to college. Another guest is a music professor at another school nearby. SCSU's semester starts today (Monday), a week earlier than in the past due to consolidation of the MnSCU schedules. It really feels wrong: The State Fair is supposed to bring the curtain down on summer, not open the fall. Labor Day is always the barbecue that says goodbye to your kids' summer vacations. It's a little more poignant for us this year as Littlest enters high school (she starts today as well.) You just don't want all these transitions quite so soon.

So this is the conversation with the other professor, and in the middle of this we sort of stop and catch ourselves. "I get no sympathy from my wife about this," he says. And he's right. We get three glorious months to self-indulge, or teach a summer class to make that tuition check for the school in fall, or travel, or what have you. In the fall he gets new studio students to work with. He looks forward to it. And so do I. Does anyone else get to do this? We like to call athletes lucky to play a child's game for money, but my luck is as good as theirs even if the money isn't.

I ran into a former student of mine, one of my first students here from more than 20 years ago, who now teaches at a school in the Cities on Saturday. He's just helped one of my graduate students find some teaching at his school; he sends some of his students up to St. Cloud to become my students. I ran into the grad student later to retrieve some books I had lent him. He is now being helped by my older student. I gave a couple prayers of thanks driving home and thought maybe August isn't so bad.

Putting a monkey wrench into this mistiming is that I'm also on jury duty the next two weeks. I already put this off once when it threatened the conference in Waikiki, so I felt I couldn't ask again. You probably won't notice, as I'll be forward-dating posts. But I'm not so concerned about missing the blog, or the Fair or the RNC next week (where I will be on the air a couple of nights -- details as we finalize them). I hate missing that first time to see students, and thank them for being there, for signing up to have me as their teacher, for wanting to learn economics ("I only took it because it was required for my major" is a challenge I accept; "I didn't think I was going to like this course but I did" is the prize), for coming to SCSU, for allowing a 50-something to feel a little younger (and a little older) every September.

Or August, as it now turns out. I'll get used to it. My lucky day just comes a bit earlier now.

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