Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Driving and advising

So what of the first-year advising I wrote about the other day? (Thanks to folks for your suggestions, by the way – especially Bardiac!)

Well, I needed to get up at an ungodly pre-dawn hour, after very few hours sleep (due, I guess, to subconscious nerves that I have been unable to source) to get my way to the Greyhound station yesterday morning, which would get me to New University City (NUC) with plenty of time to get to the university and plan out what I would say to these poor new students. Except as it turned out, the bus schedule changed on Tuesday, and I missed the bus to NUC by 5 minutes.

There was sobbing in the bus station, let me tell you. This was my first real obligation at this new job where I want to keep options open and show them what a valuable and committed faculty member I am, and I was going to miss it!

Then I remembered that there was a car rental place around the corner. Now, you may remember that last Tuesday, I was unwilling to make the rented-car drive to NUC on my own – I’ve never really driven alone, and certainly not on the highway! – and so made someone come with me to drive the terrifying, fourteen-lane part. This time, there was no such person on the horizon. The clock was ticking, and I needed to get there, dammit. So I waited, still teary – this time more from fear than anything else – until they opened, and then rented myself a small car and drove here!! By myself! Granted, I didn’t use the major highway until I got lost on the back-road highway that was slowing me down, but I did use it, in the end (when it was down to six lanes)! And I even sped a lot (naughty me) and I got here in one piece, and with three minutes to spare.

The funny thing was, I entered an unprecedented Zone of Calm on this drive. Normally I am such an anxious driver that it becomes, potentially, dangerous. I think something in me knew that I would die – or at least not make it – if I didn’t calm the hell down. So I did. I demonstrated grace under pressure, which I didn’t, frankly, know I could do. In fact, I drove a thousand times better than I usually have – I usually do some erratic things. Those were banished. Forever, I sense.

This might sound like nothing to those of you who’ve been driving since you were sixteen. But it was a huge triumph for me. Yay, me!

The bad part was that because I arrived three minutes before my advising session began, I had had no time to plan what I was going to say. And the nerves and adrenaline that I had suppressed during my entry into the Zone of Calm all flared up as soon as I got out of the car and realized what I had just done. So I was, ahem, not at my best. And anyway, half my group didn’t show up to this supposedly mandatory session. But I’m taking Bardiac’s advice and maintaining regular contact with them over email, and I have strongly urged them to come and meet with me one-on-one over the next week. I could tell a couple of them were really scared – one looked to be on the verge of tears – but not wanting to admit it in front of each other. Seeing me alone might make it feel easier to talk about that.

And my department and little hallway continue to be glorious places of fun and chat and loveliness…

So it’s all good…And I’m a Real Live driver, now.

3 comments:

medieval woman said...

Hey congrats! That's great news that you've tamed the highway demons and also had a successful (if slightly nervous) first advising session. One good thing is - new students are so wrapped up in there own personal terror that you look like a calm, cool bastion of sanity and confidence no matter what you feel like on the inside! :)

Bardiac said...

Congrats on the driving thing.

Yeah, students generally take a look at us and think we have it more or less together until we definitively prove otherwise.

I hope the email contact thing works out well for you.

What Now? said...

Goodness, what an adventure! Congrats on your extraordinary composure and your ultimate success.