Thursday, February 05, 2009

Feast or Famine

Truly, I'm not much of a party person.  I'm happy just to stay at my house, puttering around inside or outside, hanging on the computer,  writing, reading, knitting...fill in the blanks.

I don't mind driving--I like it--but, if I never had to stir out of my house, that would be fine with me.  I have enough people contact through teaching, phone calls, and the Internet.  Periodically, I work at the bookstore and reconnect with my friends there, or spend time at my parents' house, visiting with them and my siblings.  And, of course, I love to go to Austin to visit my kids.  So, I'm not without human contact, but I try not to be overwhelmed by it.

I used to give my Advanced Comp students an assignment at the beginning of the semester--to spend an entire day by themselves.  I cannot tell you the number of stunned looks I got.  "What?  You want me to spend a day by myself?  See a movie by myself?  Eat by myself? Shop by myself?"  I couldn't understand their reactions.  Who wouldn't revel in a day all to him- or herself?

Well, obviously, quite a few people, as it turned out.  I discovered that many people don't like to be alone.  Some of my students couldn't figure out what to do with the time, though I did have a couple of female students, who had small children, who loved it.  They could tell their husbands/boyfriends/parents that it was an assignment for a course--they HAD to do it for an essay they were writing--and that gave them a reason to take a "personal" day.  I had one student who went to the bookstore where I worked, ordered a cup of coffee, and spent about six hours reading, writing, and watching people.  She enjoyed it so much that she told her husband she wanted time off one day of the weekend, every weekend, for herself.  And she got it!

I don't understand the aversion to being alone.  It's thinking time; it's recharging time.  With all of the energy I expend teaching and talking, I need that time to regroup!  I'm getting more of it this semester than any semester in seven years, and I'm so grateful for it.  I know if I have to go back to a four-day week in the fall, I will miss my solitude.


Maureen O'Neal said...

I wish we were given that assignment! I would milk it as long as I possibly could.

I can not remember the last time I had a day all to myself. If I were to take a stab at it, it was probably in high school--a weekend, maybe.

--Maureen O.
Eng. 226

kim wells said...

Oh, I really really need time to myself. It's why, as much as I love my kids, I have to be able to send them to daycare sometimes. When I wasn't doing that, I had moments where I truly understood the Yellow Wallpaper. :)

I would have loved that assignment too. It's a great idea. Maybe I'll try it with a class someday.

Carlie said...

Do you mind having us do the assignment this semester. Only this time let's try for a week. I love social interaction, and I used to hate to be at home by myself. I would always have to be moving and shaking, but over the last few years things have changed for me. I am completely and totally content being at home by myself, and sometimes I even get irritated if I come home from a long day and my husband is there with friends hanging out. (he has a very flexible job in the oilfield) Even my friends have noticed the change. They always ask me why I never want to do anything, and I try my best to be nice when I say "Because I am tired of being around you and everyone else!" haha.
So if you need any volunteers for the assignment, I am in!

Kharamel said...

I never thought I would say this, but here goes--"Please, oh please, please give me homework!!!" You have no idea what it would mean to hear you say yes. I'll even pitch in and help those who can't do their own work. It may take me 5-10 days to do it, but that's the sacrifice you have to make for your fellow man sometimes. I'm sure my kids will also understand, if they can hear me when I tell them over all the arguing, loud music, and blaring televisions they have going all the time!

Please hurry and assign the homework.


dotsmom said...

Wow! I can so totally do this for you if that's what you want. So, tell anyone you need to that for your next essay, you need to spend a day alone!

"Solitude" is a good topic for a personal essay.