I was just sitting here in my office thinking about how I feel a little tired, didn’t sleep as well as I could have last night. Then a couple of students walked by–briskly, as the class down the hall where they were headed began six minutes ago—and I heard one of them say, “Oh, I’m doing pretty well, I mean, I’ve been averaging at least 4-5 hours of sleep a night.”

Okay. Last night I went to bed at 10, woke up at 7. That’s nine hours. Even with a bit of tossing and turning, in comparison, it’s a LOOONG time. I’d take this opportunity to say this is yet more evidence of the fact that I’m old, but the truth is I’ve NEVER been the type of person who can function on very little sleep. Even in college I didn’t pull all nighters, because even if I did study forever, if I was exhausted I’d fail anyway. I need my sleep. Big time. I swear I always sound like such mom with my students this time of year, as they shuffle in, dark circles under their eyes, clutching Mountain Dews and coffee cups, barely alive. “You need your sleep!” I say. I give them worried looks. I quote Mariah Carey, when she was having her nervous breakdown: “Sleep deprivation is REAL, people!” But they just smile at me, in a tired sort of way, and nod. They don’t hear a word, I don’t think. But at least I try.

Speaking of my students, a couple of people commented yesterday about wanting to come to UNC to take my class. I just want to say that I’m really flattered, but there are so many other, better reasons to come here: it’s a great school, beautiful campus, and, especially if you live in NC, so affordable. I love this place. I grew up on this campus—literally, I used to ride my skateboard around the pit while I waited for my mom or dad to finish office hours—and then came here as a student, where I got to see it in a totally different light. And being here as an instructor still feels so crazy to me. I have this postcard on my bulletin board, right next to my computer here. When I quit the Flying Burrito to come teach here—talk about an abrupt transition—my friend Jennifer gave it to me; it’s Lyle the crocodile, sitting at a desk with an InBox, sharpening some pencils. Jennifer said, “This is how I see you at Carolina, in your little office.” Of course, I’m not a crocodile. But the sentiment was sweet. And I’ve kept it there all of these seven-almost-eight years, to remind me, even on the frustrating days, what a great chance I was given when Marianne Gingher offered me this job.

Which leads me neatly into my next news item: I’m taking next year off from teaching. I’ll be here in the Spring, but come fall, I’m going try something else for a couple of semesters, i.e. just focusing on writing. What an novel idea. (No pun intended.) Truthfully, I went from waiting tables and writing to teaching and writing. I don’t really know what it’s like to just WRITE, no safety net, all by itself. It’s a little terrifying, to be honest. I know that at the end of August I might be sitting at home, twiddling my thumbs, feeling that it’s just WRONG that I’m not standing in front of a bunch of new faces, syllabi in hand. But this is a new start, and I’m excited to see what happens. And hopefully, come Fall 2006 I’ll be right back here, with my Lyle postcard in place. I hope so, anyway.

For now, though, the last two classes of the semester. Final revisions. Grades. And then…sleep. And more than five hours!

have a good day everyone!