Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Sean Connery pops his head up like a whack-a-mole from the hatch of a Nazi tank, in the middle of a running gun battle, and says disapprovingly to his professor son, “You call this archaeology?” That’s me, on the topic of spring break.
You’ll excuse me for being brief. As we all know from public opinion, academics get way too much time off—spring break, summer break, Thanksgiving break, winter break, Mardi Gras break, Labor Day, MLK Day, Presidents Day, Valentine’s Day, and three or four mental health days as needed. So I need to hurry and get to the pleasures waiting for me this week, before the opportunity is gone and the next obligation to lark about is upon me. But before I head down to the infinity pool and swim out to the bar where they serve the sweetest, most perfect piña coladas on earth and put in my order for lobster, shrimp, crab, and steak for luncheon, I have a few things to take care of.
Namely: While I’ve finished reading hundreds of applications for our fall MFA cohort, I’m still in the middle of negotiating offers; I have to finish seven thousand words of essays for a book manuscript that needs to go out for peer review; I need to write people a couple of rec letters, get a couple of people paid, get myself reimbursed for travel expenses I couldn’t afford, give comments on grad writing, read a novel for my lit seminar, and correct citations for a paper I wrote for an MLA volume. I need to check carefully the new proof for the reprint of this issue of The McNeese Review. We also have relatives coming down this week from Illinois, and I’m the only daycare for my boys, who are also on break. It’s as if someone has told me I must build a house, by myself, from scratch, by Sunday night. On the plus side, they think I’m capable, and I know I am, if I can keep the rising panic down.
Our weather here is the weather of your snowbound dreams—warm and soft, the bottlebrush trees blooming in my front drive, pansies in the pots by the door, and the pollen from the live oaks collecting in pools in the gentle rain and drying in yellow rivers like saffron—what my friends and I used to drive 15 hours to reach for our college spring breaks.
Anyway, in the middle of all this my old friend Stepped Reckoner sent me a YouTube clip that suddenly triggered one of those moments of clarity that come in the middle of exhaustion and anxiety: There’s a thin margin between a good idea executed brilliantly, and an idea that goes thud. All it takes to succeed is perseverance and genius, and since my genius has been on break in Lauderdale since the late '60s, I substitute lots of coffee.
Have a productive break.