Tuesday, August 15, 2006


It's odd to think about just how jarring changes to your routine can be. Today I received my schedule for the upcoming school year. My lunch period has been moved up an hour. My prep period is now first period instead of seventh... and I have lunch duty. I suppose I should feel fortunate that I had five years in which I managed to avoid such an onerous activity. The idea of watching a cafeteria full of 13 to 16 year-olds wolf down their food is enough to churn my stomach, without actually having to experience it 187 days in a year. Oh, how I appreciated being the study hall monitor, in the comfort of my own classroom.

Routine is a strange thing. I have no way to express exactly how deep my love is for the summer, when I decide what to do and when to do it. Yet there are pitfalls implicit in all that opportunity. It's easy to resent the everyday tasks that need to be completed. There's a danger that nothing at all will be accomplished, and that I will simply lose myself in the languor of the day.

Somehow I can find some merit in having my time allotted specifically and inextricably throughout the day. I guess that is a daily condition that few of us can ever avoid. So it makes sense to accept it and find ways to make our routine as efficient and beneficial as possible. However, this strategy makes arbitrary changes in routine all-the-more frustrating. Life is constant and gradual flux, and no matter what we do, we are going to be compelled to adapt to change. This fact makes the task of building routine seem futile.

Perhaps my love-hate relationship with routine is made more acute by the value I place on arts and culture. The word "routine" is commonly used in a derogatory manner when applied in the art world. One might as well accept the label "mundane". The common, time-worn efficiencies of routine are the death knell for the artist. Perhaps that is why someone involved in such pursuits experiences such resentment at the prospect of following an unyielding routine. Surely art necesitates changes in perspective that thwart the ordinary and the common. That may be why we see so many aspiring artists with substance abuse problems, or other variants of escapist pursuit.

Thus arises the question, how will lunch duty affect my work? And I'm not just talking about the work that earns my paycheck. How will it change my daily perspective, and why should the idea of it put me so ill at ease?


Blogger laurie said...

Very timely. It's at this point every summer that I consider the routine of the school year. So, in these last days of summer I make sure the kids and I suck the marrow of spontaneity, freedom, doing nothing and boredom. Jeez, what'd you do to end up with lunch duty!?

12:08 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Well, I never drew that particular duty in the five years I spent there. I guess I had it coming- everyone needs to take their turn.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous jefg said...

Isn't there any shred of a bright side to all of this? First period prep duty sounds like a great time to catch up on the things you didn't get to do the night before, and think about the day ahead. And, not having had in the past five years has to account for something...who did you know, and who have you not been kind to?
Enjoy your last week of freedom. Someday you too will wake up and be on vacation each and every day. Life is good.

4:24 PM  
Blogger Merge Divide said...

Oh yeah, there are numerous possible perspectives. The post was essentially the product of a pretty transitory mood. I've actually already adjusted to a low-level acceptance of the new schedule. First period prep will be great if my classroom isn't being used by someone else during that time.

6:06 PM  

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