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Finally! What a great way to end the weekend (or start the week, I guess, depending on how you look at it). Here’s the truth: I was screaming myself hoarse in those last few seconds, jumping up and down. Amazing.

And now it’s Monday, the last week before Spring Break. This time last year, and the year before, we were in Florida, hanging out by the pool in eighty degree weather. We decided not to go this year for a variety of reasons, but I am nostalgic and wistful today anyway. There was something so amazing about climbing onto a plane here in cold weather, all bundled up, and then getting off a few hours later down there to see things blooming, the sun so bright and warm, and everyone walking around in shorts. It’s like a whole different world.

Once back from Spring Break, the semester always feels like it accelerates: the weather warms up, everything starts blooming, everyone is endlessly distracted by both these things, and the next thing you know, it’s the last day of classes. I know I’ll be happy when it comes, as I always am, but because I’m not going to be at UNC next year (I’m taking a year off) there’s a part of me that is somewhat sad to see things begin to wind down. I took Monkey up to campus on Friday: it was a beautiful day, and as we were walking across the quad, him darting out after squirrels, and I felt a little sad, knowing I won’t be teaching this time next year. What on earth am I going to do with myself? The mind boggles. I’ve been teaching for eight years now, and my life seems to be set to the academic calendar: to me, the year starts in late August, ends in late April. You go away over Fall, Christmas or Spring break. It’s incredibly exciting to think that I could, you know, just take off on a random Tuesday if I wanted to, but also kind of weird at the same time. The funny thing is that my father, who also teaches at UNC, is retiring after this semester, after being there for thirty-two years. So he’s completely in the “This is the last time I’ll grade midterms, this is the last time I have to order textbooks” mode. We keep joking that we’re leaving in tandem, that it’s a total Dessen exodus. If nothing else, THAT’S what I’ll do next year: hang out with my dad. We can sit around and drink iced tea during the late mornings on weekdays, celebrating the fact that we do not have to grade papers. Wouldn’t be bad. At all.

It is weird, though, to think about this time opening up for me. When I got offered my job at UNC, though, I was waiting tables at the Burrito, and that was a much stranger transition, to go from making salads to teaching Raymond Carver. Bizarre. There’s so much I want to do in my time off—maybe do a short story collection (once I’m not teaching them, I might actually want to do a few of my own) or try something else new and different. What I’d REALLY like to do is try out for Starting Over, just for the fun of it, but my husband has put his foot down on that one. So oh, well. Looks like I’ll be here, taking spontaneous weekday trips Just Because I Can. And writing. Hopefully. A lot.

Still, I will never be far from UNC, either figuratively or, actually, literally. Classes or not, I’ll always have basketball. Now: onto the ACC Tournament. Yes!!!

have a good day, everyone!