Sunday, April 19, 2015

I'd prefer not to--Letter #42

Dear Governor Ducey,
This time, I’m asking you for some advice. It’s almost the end of my sabbatical. I wake up depressed and I can’t tell if it’s because I didn’t get as much as I wanted to done or if I’m dreading going back to the busywork that occupies a good percentage of my job. I’m looking forward to going back to my students because I like to teach, plus they offer some ballast to the unwieldy world of wondering if all your work is pointless or not—their very presence makes me believe that something valuable exists in what I do.
And yet, after sabbatical, it seems like I might be better able, having had time to evaluate and think through priorities, to say no to certain projects, yes to ones that are necessary and seem valuable, to choose better, overall, how I spend my time. B

But these letters, like the book of poems I revise, and the novel I reconsider, and the new nonfiction project, if weighed against the dollars that come in to your campaign headquarters to say, much more loudly, “no” to everything I really do think is important, should I keep writing them? The party of “no.” Sometimes, no just does sound better. It’s a lot easier than writing pages and pages on student work which is still way better than writing pages and pages of learning outcomes to prove to the state that I’m not doing nothing.

So should I write another letter? Yes, I guess I should. A sabbatical is a kind of break, but it’s also a kind of void. A black hole. A perpetual no. And in a lot of ways, I would like to be lazy. To just quit. But I will go back to work (just did some work—emailed a student--to spite the no) and I'll write one more letter because yes is the only antidote to no.

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