Last Friday, my doctor signed me off work for three weeks with stress – again. It was a bit of a shock. It always is a bit of shock when it happens. You go into the doctor’s surgery with a mind full of work, wondering how soon you can get back into the staffroom and start marking, and whether you’ll find a place in the car park… then you drive home, to an empty house and the cat. That morning seemed to go on for ever. I didn’t know what to do with myself. Thinking I might like some soup for lunch, I delved into the vegetable drawer to see what I had to make it with and ended up making three different sorts: mixed vegetable, cauliflower and borsch.
My husband doesn’t like borsch.
My one and only husband seriously doesn’t like borsch, having seen it steaming from square stainless steel vats in the Hotel Cosmos in Moscow. And, unlike the Hotel Cosmos, I didn’t have sour cream to serve it with. However, I was gratified when, at Saturday lunchtime, he ate and enjoyed some of the cauliflower soup – which was as well as I’d made about one litre of the stuff.
Back to Friday afternoon, though. I ordered online a hand-mixer with rotary blades, so that I didn’t have to go to the trouble of pouring hot soup from the pan into my (existing) food processor in order to liquidise it, then I cleaned my house. On Saturday morning, I sorted out which bits of my food processor were broken (since about twelve months ago) and ordered replacement parts online, including a whisk attachment which looked more or less like the rotary blades on the hand-mixer.
You may wonder where all this is going, Dear Reader. I think what I’m trying to say is I’m struggling to get off the hamster wheel. I spent a large part of Saturday and Sunday preparing lessons for cover tutors and emailed it to my boss on Sunday night. Monday, Tuesday and today (Wednesday), I have used to catch up with marking. There are lots of other work-related things I could do now, which would relieve my burden when I do return to work. You can take the lecturer out of college but you can’t take the college out of the lecturer. I wish you could.
I’m aware that, during term-time, I don’t have a life, because I’m working all the time, including weekends and
several evenings per week. Don’t get me started on ‘teachers’ long holidays’, even though we college lecturers don’t get the same deal as school teachers. Stress and overwork – not pay – are the real reasons why schools and colleges cannot recruit and why young graduates who do enter the profession don’t stay. They’re burnt out by thirty. Same with doctors and nurses; my GP admitted as much when I saw him last Friday.
However, in spite of all the lesson-preparation and marking, my day-to-day existence has become more managable, the fridge cleared out, the newspaper read, a bit of reading done, two blog posts written. Now, I’m sitting here this evening thinking about reading some more womag stories with a view to understanding that market well enough to write an ‘acceptable’ womag story. This has always been the biggie in my writing career.
You may wonder what a post like this is doing on a blog about writing, especially on a blog called ‘Write On’. I confess that I’m not doing much writing at the moment, because of being overwhelmed by the above. A few days ago, I read Cate Russell-Cole’s post on CommuniCATE, Write to Combat Depression, which I recommend, although I find depression dries up my creativity. Over the last few months, I’ve only had the energy to read in the small amount of spare time I have and you may think that I’ve posted so many book reviews recently that I should rename this blog ‘Read On’. What I’d like to do is to write some more general diary-type posts from time to time, because I find other people’s lives interesting. Hope that’s all right with you, Dear Reader.