This time of year is always so tough. Working in academia, my life is (and always will be) based on the academic calendar. I can never decide if August is the beginning of the year, or the end. I work on a 12 month contract, so even though I’m in education, I don’t get the summers off. I still come in Monday – Friday, work 8:30 – 5-ish.
But there is a big change once the students are off campus. Everything slows down. I can actually find parking (which is good, since I have to drive to work because the bus only runs once an hour). Summer is the time when we all get our big projects (things that can’t be done without disrupting patrons) done – weeding the stacks, organizing the government documents, planning for new initiatives. It’s a great time of year, and a great time to work at Grand Valley (the campus is AMAZING in the summer). But then August rolls around. Faculty begin returning to campus (our new contract year starts August 6). We can start purchasing books again. Library instructions starts getting planned. And my calendar starts filling up.
For me, August is the start of the craziness – I know that my summer schedule is over and I have to rush to finish my projects while also fitting in the rest of my regular responsibilities. So it becomes this weird gray area of wrapping up the Summer, but also ringing in the start of the year. It’s both a mad dash to reach the finish line, and a wonderful fresh start full of promise (and new faculty to meet). It’s a super stressful time, but also one that I can’t help but look forward to. This one is especially stressful since I’m up for review in 2013, which means I have to have my portfolio together by the first week of January. Now, I’m not worried that I won’t get renewed, per se. I’m confident that I do my job, and that I’m meeting the requirements for service and scholarship. I’ve had positive feedback and have been offered some amazing opportunities that I wouldn’t get if I wasn’t trusted to be competent. But it’s still very stressful, knowing that, in theory, I could be told by my peers that I am not doing my job and do not deserve to stay. (Or more realistically, that I have failed to make my weirdly complicated job make sense and they have no idea how I spend all of my time.)
ANYWAY, it’s a fun time of year, even if it’s super stressful. I think the University acknowledges this, and that’s why I have three official picnics scheduled over the next two weeks.