Dear Students Who I Have Not Yet Met,
I would rather do anything else than write the Syllabus for your class.
I would rather go through the checkout line in Target during freshman move-in weekend or allow myself to get cornered at the department holiday party by that one awkward faculty member who doesn’t understand personal space, or drive to Prince Rupert, Canada, and then ferry to the capital of Alaska while listening to Gary Puckett and the Union Gap on repeat than write the Syllabus for your class.
I would rather become a vegetarian than write the Syllabus for your class. I would rather take my car to the dealership and buy the dealer-specific replacement rear wiper blade that I have been putting off buying for approximately 18 months, even though the blade that is currently on my car is dull and useless and hanging onto the mechanism by one lone corner while the rest of it flails against the window. I would rather try to buy coffee at the campus coffee shop at 9 AM on the first day of classes. Rather than write the Syllabus for your class, I would go through all the boxes in my basement that are still unopened from when we moved in three years ago and sort their contents into piles of keep and donate and sell and then organize a yard sale for my entire block.
I would rather spend all morning talking to a salesman named Chris or Joe or John about upgrading my smartphone and new contract options and service plans and how my monthly bill will now cost as much as a car payment.
I would rather sit through 15 hours of returning faculty orientation. And take notes.
I would rather schedule an appointment to speak with my department’s assigned contact in Human Resources about the changes in benefits to my University-sponsored health insurance plan and the sudden need for additional documentation to prove that my dependents are really my dependents when my only dependent is the child whose birth was paid for by said University’s benefits plan in the first place.
I would rather go shopping for jeans or foundational undergarments or practical-yet-cute footwear than write this damn Syllabus because I do not know what I will want you to read on November 22.
By November 22, we will be wearing sweaters and scarves and jackets and possibly those fingerless gloves that famous authors who wrote in unheated garrets wore, except for all the women on campus, who will instead be dressed like Han Solo in their vests and their knee-high leather boots pulled over their very tight pants, and all of the corporate coffee shops will be transitioning their seasonal menus from Pumpkin Spice Everything to Peppermint Everything, which will only add to the buzz of stress and excitement surrounding the quickening approach of the semester’s end. I have no idea what I will want you to read while you sit there in my class on November 22 wearing your boots and jeans and sipping your PSL because it is August and I am wearing flip flops and a sundress and sipping a Hemingway daiquiri and even if I did feel like assigning something for you to read, it would probably be the recipe section of Coastal Living or the latest edition of People magazine or maybe even that new Harry Potter book that J.K. Rowling said she would never write but did anyway because IT’S STILL SUMMER AND THAT’S THE KIND OF SHIT YOU READ IN SUMMER.
Asking me to generate a lesson plan for November 22 when it’s August is like asking me to plan a dinner menu three months ahead of time, which you might do for, say, a wedding, but I am not getting married on November 22. I have been married for over a decade and even then I did not plan a dinner menu because we eloped, unless you count ordering entirely too many celebratory margaritas at the Tex Mex place we went to afterwards as planning, and anyway no one is planning anything for November 22, celebratory or otherwise, because it is a Tuesday. A Tuesday! How can anyone expect anyone to plan anything for a Tuesday three months from now? What if I planned to have steak for dinner but instead felt like Chinese takeout? Or pizza? Or blowing off dinner altogether in favor of going to the early movie and just eating my way through an entire tub of popcorn, because god knows we all do that from time to time, especially in October, when we are barely halfway through the semester and Christmas is everywhere even though Halloween hasn’t yet happened, or in November, when we have been driven to desperation by the incessant onslaught of Pumpkin Spice Everything and women dressing like Han Solo?
What if I am a vegetarian three months from now?
What if you are a vegetarian three months from now?
What if your entire class has become vegetarian and on November 22, I have assigned an essay about searching for the best cabrito in Mexico when in reality, a better choice for my audience would probably be pretty much any recipe ever off the Thug Kitchen website? And what if I change the reading to “accommodate the needs of the class,” as my Syllabus says, because “the professor reserves the right to make changes to this document”? Isn’t that just false advertising? Won’t such a sudden, dramatic shift in curriculum planning frustrate the Han Solo pants off that one student who always follows the schedule—the one who has diligently copied every date into her perfectly maintained planner? The one who is visibly stressing about the seasonal transition to Peppermint?
I don’t want to be responsible for inflicting that level of instability on her life. On your life. On anyone’s life.
I don’t want to make promises I can’t keep.
I hear that Juneau is lovely this time of year. If I’m going to make that ride, though, I really should get that dealer-specific replacement rear wiper blade. And upgrade my smartphone.