Josna Rege

Posts Tagged ‘facing retirement’

510. School’s (Nearly) Out

In Aging, Education, Stories, Teaching, Work on April 9, 2022 at 1:56 am

As retirement looms—why does that sound ominous?—I’ve found myself thinking back over all the jobs I’ve done over the years. Counting them up, I’ve remembered at least twenty-five, from waitress, house-cleaner, and gas-station attendant to teaching assistant, research assistant, college professor; and everything in-between. It has always irked me that people outside the teaching profession think that college professors have a cushy life when, in fact, we’re always on the job, the classroom hours being just the tip of the iceberg. As I prepare to retire I’m still feeling defensive about the work I’ve done because to my mind it will never have been enough. I think the praise I value most came when, at age 21, I’d put in a day of hard labor on a farm and the manager (Pete Hill, our friend Michael’s dear father), said—with some surprise—that I certainly knew how to work. How much I’ve put that knowledge into action since then is one of the things I find nagging at me as the countdown begins.

I’ve already written about the paper round, Godine Press, the Merit gas station and the Blue Parrot, house-cleaning, the Posh Bagel, and Whetstone Press. There were so many more jobs in my early, checquered career: shop assistant at Party Favors in Coolidge Corner, circulation assistant, Widener Library, caterer in Belmont, free-lance laddu-maker, greenhouse worker, technical editor, Environmental Research & Technology, first employee of an (anti-)nuclear information and resource service (NIRS), newspaper editor and board secretary at a food co-op federation (NEFCO), newspaper stringer, The Winchendon Courier, medical receptionist (for a week), substitute teacher (for two whole days). And none of the above counts my unpaid or volunteer work. 

Teaching was a profession I came to late, in my thirties, and have been at for the past 35 years, in different capacities and at five different colleges and universities. Strangely enough, I haven’t written much about it—the so-called life of the mind.

I wonder why not? Something about not telling tales out of school, perhaps. Something to revisit after retirement?  In my current state of exhaustion I think, not bloody likely. For now, here’s a handful of teaching stories—one set in the 1980s and the rest between 2017 and 2020:

Reaganomics 101
teaching in the 80s

Why Should Not Old Women Be Mad?
an end-of-semester rant or, I’m so old that. . .

Scattergram, April 2017
teaching in the age of Trump

Free from Thought
still in the age of Trump

Zoom
during the pandemic 

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

507. Marking Time

In Aging, Nature, reflections, Stories, Teaching on January 23, 2022 at 11:39 pm

As this Spring semester of 2022 gets underway, every day is necessarily going to bring a succession of ‘lasts’, each one unnecessarily freighted with significance. For I have made the decision to retire. Never having believed in counting down the days before, I hardly know whether I dread getting to the last ‘last’ or whether I can’t wait. My last first day of classes is already history, and already I’ve found myself thinking about the very last meeting of my very last class. Will I tell the students and bring in Indian sweets to share? Or just slip quietly out and away? Can’t allow myself to think about it now.

But when all the ‘lasts’ are behind me, when the inevitable tears of sadness and relief have flowed, I hope there will be a period of blessèd emptiness—before this overactive mind of mine starts in on the ‘nexts.’  

Tell Me Another (Contents to Date)

Chronological Table of Contents

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