Tuesday, December 06, 2005


Ceremony Season

It’s that time again. Time to write off the evenings and weekends, wear a suit every day, and spread engaging-but-safe holiday cheer. Ceremony season is upon us.

Although I’ve done it enough times now to know the drill, there’s something about ceremony season that always makes me feel a little guilty. At some level, it just doesn’t feel enough like work. It’s certainly tiring enough – I start in the office like a regular work day, but get home in the wee hours – but at any given moment, it just looks like sociability. Say hello to folks, enjoy some chicken in white sauce (always, always, chicken in white sauce; I think it’s an anti-vegetarian conspiracy), make and maintain connections.

The cruel trick of ceremony season is that it comes at the same time as:

- holiday shopping
- family gatherings
- grading/exam time for faculty and students
- suddenly unpredictable nasty weather

So the faculty and students are on their last nerves (check out the number of faculty blogs devoted to procrastinating grading!), the family is claiming more attention, and the shopping days are dwindling – what better time to throw in snow days and late nights?

Paradoxically, the work that looks the least like work is often the most draining. The Wife is struggling valiantly to keep a lid on things as we get closer to Christmas, and it’s hard to be convincing saying things like “sorry I have to be late again, honey, but the President’s party really isn’t optional.” When she’s trying to corral a crazed ferret of a boy and a girl of random gait, that sentence just doesn’t work. Which I understand, but which doesn’t change the fact of obligations.

I’m thinking of issuing a deanly decree that next year, all performing arts events must have at least one weekday matinee performance, just so I can go home at night.

This weekend we sandwiched a wedding in there, too. It was nice, and I was glad to be there, but neither of us was worth much the next day. I guest-performed at a concert, which was great fun but also great stress. This week, multiple social events and contract negotiations. And the faculty and students are on their shortest fuses of the year.

Some cheese to go with the whine: one of this weekend’s errands involved buying toys for the local Santa to bring next weekend on a fire truck. As far as The Boy is concerned, the two coolest things in the world are Santa and fire trucks. (Throw in Spider-Man, and The Boy would actually, physically explode.) When Santa gets here on the fire truck, and The Boy hits the ceiling with glee, I’ll exhale and even smile.

Until then, it’s full-on WASPy repression. Keepin’ an even keel, cap’n...

'put-on-your-fancy-outfit' and 'don't-come-home-till-the-kids-are asleep' - gah! After meetings, this would be the part of your job I would dislike the most. (BTW, didya know that meeting hatred is the reason I stopped academia for private practice shrinkdom and coachville?)
yes, it sounds like a 5-7pm reception would be easy, right? for me it's not a babysitter to find, but a driver: that particular Thursday, like many days, has girl scouts, swimming, basketball and lego league, or some combination. you'd think 2 kids and 2 parents could cover it, but just one reception throws everything off.
You would make a lot of people happy if you could ensure that more of these obligations and events go off in the daytime (that's assuming that you have the space available at that time!).

I have two kids and a working spouse (ironically now at the same university though in a non-teaching position) whose schedule I have to juggle. Getting to these evening gigs is always a chore, never a pleasure. Which is sad considering that I'd really like to appreciate these special events more but not only do I have to move heaven and earth to get there, but all the while I'm mentally cataloguing the amount of marking I could have completed in the same amount of time.

With that, I'm back to another three essays before I earn my next blog break!
As a music prof, let me say AMEN! This is an exhausting time of year for us. In addition to the university holiday concerts, my own gigs, student recitals, and the adjunct party at my university (thoughtfully scheduled at the same time as final exams, so few could make it, much to the dean's surprise), I just about fall over every night. I'm also trying to get to my private students' concerts, too, and they ALL seem to attend different schools.

If I had a Nutcracker gig, as do some of my colleagues, I'd go...nuts. :)

But daytime? That's tough. Parents who want to hear their college students' concerts would need to get out of work, pull younger siblings out of school, etc., unless you mean matinees on the weekends.
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