I was chatting with a first-year teacher who said he realized this week that the honeymoon phase of the school year is already over.

I replied that I think of this as the piles phase.


Includes: Rearranging the classroom furniture, hanging up crisp new posters, setting up a gradebook or a seating chart or a folder full of documents, planning and fantasizing about the culture you'll create, the lives you'll change, and the learning that will take place.


Includes: Piles of submitted assignments to be graded, piles of emails, the spread of sticky notes on your desk forming into a pile, piles of people you were supposed to call back, piles of dishes in the sink, piles of things you've been meaning to say to your person, and so on, in every area of your life.

I mentioned this feeling to the 12th graders in my class.
Actually, the exact conversation was more like:

Me, after a pause and a sigh: Do you lately just feel -- ?
Student, cutting me off in the best way: Yes.

They of course have different piles: piles of college applications to process, piles of personal essays to edit, piles of recommendations to awkwardly ask for, piles of new classes that aren't easing up on them during senior year, piles of feelings related to being ready to transition into that next phase.

I feel you, kids. We're all in this boat.
And I admit that your suggestion to just close the blinds, turn off the lights, and collectively put our heads down for the rest of the period did not fall on deaf ears.

But I guess we all know that's not why we're here.

Your hard work is truly going to pay off.
I believe that.
(If I didn't you know I'd take that nap.)

And even though this pile is taller than I am, reading through your projects with my coffee and the windows open on this Saturday morning is secretly lovely.

And there's really only one way to eat an elephant: one bite at a time.

So goodbye, September. Here we go.

Swimming Pool

I can't get over photographer Maria Svarbova's "Swimming Pool" series. It's currently my favorite thing on Instagram, and I find my brain returning to its faded pastels, potent reds, the haunting symmetry, and the tension it creates so beautifully between stillness and movement.