Summerʼs coming to an end. Schools are starting. College kids are mostly off to campuses by now. On one of the morning news shows yesterday an anchor was getting all misty about the approach of fall, the end of fun. Even the weather seems (here in Iowa) to be involved in the nearly-autumn conspiracy, as the well-beyond-100° dewpoint-corrected temperatures, amazonian-humid, activity-incapacitating weather broke Saturday night, and both Monday morning and this a.m. began cool and dry (down around 60°), making for not-much-more-than-usual easy runs (ha — yesterday I had trouble breathing correctly for some reason, but I am hoping I made up for that today; and it seriously did feel cool, although this fat man still sweated like a sousaphonist wearing a wool uniform in a Memorial Day parade). Yes, it seems like fall is just around the corner rather than a month and more away.
And even I went back to school yesterday afternoon…
Having signed up to work as a substitute teacher (a little late, evidently, on Wednesday two weeks ago), I had to serve my time to be enriched in knowledge about bloodborne pathogens and other OSHA workplace issues, apparently now an annual rite of passage for Iowaʼs public employees/teachers and school staff members. Iʼll let you know if anything has changed (I doubt it) since I last received my indoctrination on these issues (or if the videos are any better than before, which is promised but I feel dubious). I will also have to submit my request for a substitute teacherʼs certificate to the state as my actual teaching license expires on my birthday (and as I think I noted here already, I had no interest in re-upping the full license any longer — the cost is too high, both for the license itself and the mandatory hours of coursework to comply with the regulations). So in a small and more or less indirect way, summer ends and school starts for me as well.
Last year, I could not work for a school or other IPERS*-involved entity for a full three months after my official date of retirement, so the start of school meant quite a bit less to me then. (I wish it still did, but I must bring in some more money than the retirement dole somehow. Why? Thatʼs tomorrowʼs post. — Say, readers, you wouldnʼt want to just send me two bucks a day for this ultimately engaging and worthwhile experience, reading the predictably regular blog posts? Just kidding, of course, although finding advertisers, as I had thought I had done earlier, would be helpful. I do realize no company wants to advertise on a blog that attracts at best noticeably less than a hundred distinct daily hits.) So itʼs onto the substitute list I go, knowing full well that this book junkie will have his text with him as I arrive at the training session yesterday afternoon, along with my big, red notebook for some very important “notes on the videos” that could just bring “Mistakes by Moonlight” to its finish (good thing not many read this blog).
I realized last winter, as my number of sub assignments began to increase (only for me to slam shut my door of opportunity by getting the Census job and having to give up all my future sub dates), that I could make the necessary amount of additional money each month if I just subbed about twelve times — even at Andrew rates of pay. Yesterday morning, while huffing and gasping through my abbreviated “run,” I realized that the typical teacher only has twenty workdays on average each month (not a reality which I enjoyed in my years in education), so my dream of balancing our income by subbing was a bit irrational. I had visualized working just eight days less than a fulltime teacher for about a fourth of the pay (and no benefits). Janet has quietly felt that my leap into early retirement may have been a misstep (which is why — repetitious note to self — I have to complete some more fiction and get back in the rhythm of sending stuff off regardless of the regularity of rejection) and my predawn realization yesterday gave endorsement to her view.
Is it in the fall that dreams fall apart? Because facing a school year, even at this removal/distance makes my visions of my post-educational career seem dim and futile. Sigh.
On the other hand (and I am so glad that my imaginary self is not an amputee so that the definitely plural other hands keep getting raised), hereʼs my best wishes to the students, faculties and staffs all returning to the educational grind. May each day be your stepping stone toward a fuller and brighter tomorrow.
Oh, and… Go, Public Education, the right of everyone!
(Do not let elitist, wealthy, voucher-avouching, selfish, private-school-worshiping Rightist tightwads take away our right to learn, freely and fully as we wish, regardless of our social status or nonexistent, inherited fortunes. Those high-society, Old Money aristocrats whining against public education — and the poor dupes-on-the-Right they have deceived on this and so many other issues — just want to keep all the privileges of knowledge and opporutnity to themselves and their miserly ilk.)
Education is everyoneʼs right. Itʼs just sad that not everyone sees the vastness of opportunity a valid education could make possible and available.
* For the uninitiated nonIowans who may be lurking out there, IPERS is the Iowa Public Employees Retirement System, into which I and my employing schools paid percentages of my income for thirty-four years until I became, after thirty of those years, “fully vested,” meaning that I could qualify upon retirement for full payments (based on the evidently minuscule average of my final three years wages), provided that my age (upon retirement) plus my years of service equaled or exceeded 88, the Iowa-famous “Rule of 88” that permits teachers and other public employees to retire at an almost reasonable age.
(Boy, do I still envy all those Armed Services retirees, like Janetʼs friend and high school valedictorian and my late brother-in-law Brian, who could get out with retirement while still actually quite young — and get fantastic private-sector jobs on top of those benefits. On the other hand, this particular freethinking coward would have made a truly pathetic, maverick soldier. And the Pale Grizzly thinks sheʼs a lone wolf? Ha!)