Home My Vegetable Love Weathering Winter Taking Retirement Letters to Kate The Made-Up Self Essayists on the Essay A Self Made of Words
February 24, 1997

Today I was back in the pre-retirement world, getting ready for tomorrow's workshop in the art of the journal, a course I created this year as an outgrowth of My Vegetable Love, the journal I wrote two years ago. It's the last course I'll ever teach here, and happily (or sadly) it seems like one of the best I've ever taught. Eight gifted women and I, turning our days into daybooks, our lives into journals. I wonder if it's so lively because of the students or because it's a new kind of venture for all of us. I'm teaching something I've never taught before, and they're writing journals in a much more artistically self-conscious way than they've ever done before. And now I wonder if it's so precious to me because it's the last course of my career. Perhaps I shouldn't even be worrying such questions and simply be thankful that it's been so satisfying, especially when I remember how it was with my colleague Jix, who retired last year after teaching a course that according to him was one of the most disappointing of his career. Maybe, after all, there's a truth to the cliché of quitting while one's ahead, particularly given the recent growth of my retirement funds. But then again, what a pleasure it would be to have another go at this course. But then again, what a pleasure it would be to stop going back and forth like this. I wonder if everyone goes through such mood swings on the verge of retirement, or if it's just me and this day. But one thing's for sure-I can't ever remember myself having such ups and downs, such highs and lows, as if I were on drugs or had somehow lost control of myself.

Next Excerpt